Qualitative Methods in Criminology - CRCJ 3002
Methods used in conducting qualitative research. Topics include field research, interviewing, ethnographic research, content analysis and ethics.
This guide will help you find some further resources to supplement your course reading and help you complete your assignments.
1. Choosing an Essay Topic is a good general guide to get you started on identifying a research problem for your course.
2. Dive deeper in a research topic with some background reading in the social and behavioral sciences. The following are 2 good titles:
- Wiley Handbook on the psychology of violence HV6493 .W55 2016 (4th floor and online)
- International Encyclopedia of the social and behavioral sciences 2015 (online)
3. Take the time to build your search strategy once you have selected a topic and before you start your research. This means writing down your research question and identifying 2 or 3 concepts that are essential to answering the question.
4. The Library's main search engine, Omni, is a good place to start to see how much information there is on your topic. Remember that your goal is to find a manageable amount of information! If you find too much information, you may need to narrow your topic; if you find too little, you may need to broaden it. You will likely also need to search specialized databases in the social and behavioural sciences.
5. Track your research and manage your sources. Keeping track of what you learn from the sources that you use will help you both save time and create your bibliography as you work through your writing assignment(s). You can do this in various ways, including citation management software which is easy to learn and will help you document your research. The Library offers clinics on citation managment software every semester.
There are a number of texts that discuss qualitative and other research methods in the library, including:
Advancing qualitative methods in criminology and criminal justice HV7419.A38 2012 (Floor 4)
Analyzing qualitative data : systematic approaches H62 .B438 2017 (Floor 4)
Case study research : design and methods H62 .Y56 2009 (on Reserve)
The craft of research. 4th ed. Q180.55.M4 B66 2016 (Floor 3 and online)
Criminological research : understanding qualitative methods HV6024.5 .N65 2004 (Floor 4 and online)
Encyclopedia of social measurement (online)
Handbook of narrative inquiry : mapping a methodology H61.295 .H36 2007 (Floor 4 and online)
The quality of qualitative research H62.S38 (Floor 4 and online)
Research design : qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches H62 .C6963 2018 (Floor 4)
In addition to the methodology texts mentioned on the previous page, there are many good websites that discuss how to actually analyze your qualitative data; for example:
"QUAL: Qualitative Research", Research Rundowns
"Qualitative Research", Wikipedia (look in particular at some of the references at the end)
If you pursue more advanced research in the future, you will want to look into software that helps you manage large amounts of data, both qualitative and quantitative in nature. The main software package used at Carleton for qualitative data analysis is called NVIVO. It helps with keeping track of data, coding and analysing data, creating charts, etc. See the library's pages on NVIVO for complete information on how to obtain and use the software, as well as the pages on research data management more generally.
Qualitative research studies may be published in any scholarly journal, and on the next page you will find some information on some of the other databases you can use to search for these; however, here is a short of list of some of the titles held by the Library that focus particularly on qualitative research in criminology. These are all available electronically. You can search within the journal or browse the tables of contents for each title directly.
The American Society of Criminology maintains a lengthy list of criminology journals, many of which we have in the Library. A more detailed list of qualitative research journals, many of which have a criminology focus, can be found here.
Journal articles, books, and other materials providing help and/or information on the methodology of qualitative research in criminology may be found by searching in the following databases:
- PsycINFO - for articles in psychology and behavioural sciences
- SAGE Research Methods - for articles on a wide variety of topics, including criminology
- Sociological Abstracts - for articles in sociology
- Criminal Justice Abstracts - for articles in criminology and law
- Communications & Mass Media Complete - for articles in communications, journalism, and media studies
- Gender Studies Database - for articles on sexual diversity issues, violence against women, etc.
- PsycINFO allows you to search by methodology when using the Advanced Search. After entering your keywords, scroll down to choose one or more methodologies. For all other databases add "qualitative study" or the specific type of study you wish to find (e.g., "discourse analysis") as an additional search term.
- SAGE Research Methods includes resources (articles, books, and videos) about research methodologies, but also resources discussing results of research studies. Search for your desired methodology or general topic, then narrow your results by discipline (eg, Criminology and Criminal Justice).
- If you are trying to find studies on media portrayals (eg, how the media reports on certain types of crime), the Communications & Mass Media Complete database can be useful, in addition to one of the more specific social sciences / sociology databases also listed here..
- You may want to search other databases not listed here, depending on your exact topic. Browse Databases or check Subject Guides for related topics, as well as other Course Guides.
Style guides are available in both print and electronic format.
The main style guide for CRCJ 3002 is the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 6th ed. (BF76.7 .P83 2010 - copies at the Research Help Desk and on Reserve), known as the APA style guide. APA has some information and quick answers available on their website, and a Google search will lead you to many other useful online resources for APA style. Also check out APA @ Purdue's Online Writing Lab.
The following books will help in using the the APA style guide:
- Concise rules of APA style BF76.7 .C66 2005 (Research Help Desk)
- Mastering APA style : student's workbook and training guide. 6th ed. BF76.8 .M37 2010 (Floor 5 and Research Help Desk)
Another commonly-used style in criminology is Uniform Legal Citation, more commonly known as "McGill". Used specifically for legal citation, you can find print copies in the Library, with the most recent versions at the Research Help Desk and on Reserve (KE259.C35 2018). There is a tip sheet created by the Library, and Queen's University has also created a useful online guide.
Other recommended style guides to help you with your writing include:
- The Broadview guide to writing. 6th ed. LB2369 .B23 2017 (Reserves)
- A writer's reference. 7th ed. PE1408 .H2778 2011 (Research Help Desk)
See Citing Your Sources for further help with style guides.