Criminology and Criminal Justice

Criminology is a behavioural science that studies crime and criminal justice, drawing from knowledge in law, psychology and sociology, as well as other disciplines. Use this guide to begin your research, and contact Julie Lavigne, the Legal Studies Librarian, for online or telephone consultations. 

The easiest way to find books and articles, both in print and online, is by searching on the Library's main page.

The easiest way to find books and articles, both in print and online, is by searching on the Library's main page. Note that many of the best books are still only available in print, so you may still have to spend some time looking in the Library. The vast majority of journal articles, however, are available online.

Search using keywords. Once you have your results, click on "Books" on the left-hand side of the screen in order to view just the books and e-books, or click on "Peer-Reviewed Journals" as well as  "Articles" to see just academic journal articles. To search just articles and e-books, also select "Available Online". If you still have a very large results list, you can also use some of the following to further limit your results:

  • Publication Date = Only choose this if you have been given specific instructions about how recent your resources should be, or if you know that the topic you are researching has drastically changed at a certain point in time. For example, the laws around immigration changed substantially in 2002, so you would only want pre-2002 resources if you were trying to compare the new system to the old.
  • Subject = Looking at the list of suggested terms may help you pinpoint more specifically the aspects of your topic that truly interest you.

Some books to help you get started include:

Another important source of secondary materials is grey literature, information published outside the usual ambit of scholarly or academic publishing. A lot of the research and reports produced by governments and international organizations such as the UN is actually grey literature. For more on how to research this type of information, see the Library's How-To guide on Grey Literature.

Another useful resource might be government information. See our Government Information Subject Guide for more details.

Omni, the Library's main search, is the best place to start looking for journal articles, as it covers a wide range of interdisciplinary journals in which criminology topics may be found, including the vast majority of social science journals subscribed to by the Library. More advanced researchers, however, may wish to also search in some of the databases that specifically target criminology journals.

Criminal Justice Abstracts

  • Use to find abstracts (summaries) for articles in criminology and law-related fields, as well as government documents. Because it searches abstracts only, you should try to keep your keywords fairly general; however, there is often a link provided that you can then follow to access the full text.


  • Use to find articles in the behavioural sciences, including criminology. Particularly handy if you want to search for research articles which report on studies using a specific type of research methodology (e.g., qualitative research). To do this, choose the "Advanced" search option.

Sociological Abstracts

  • Has abstracts for articles in sociological journals, as well as social planning and policy. Criminology-related topics in this database might include things like violence studies, social psychology, and gender-related research.

You may also find it useful to consult some of the law databases for criminology research. See the Law Subject Guide for more details on which databases to use.

Browsing criminology and sociology journals can be a good way to familiarize yourself with some of the recurring research topics or to view examples of research methodologies. Here are some suggested titles:

Criminology can be an intensively research-based discipline. Specific methodologies are reviewed in detail in the two main research methodology courses in criminology, CRCJ 3001 and CRCJ 3002, but here is an overview to get you started.

The two main types of research methodologies used in criminology are quantitative and qualitativeQuantitative research methods tend to focus on the distribution and causes of crime, and include the gathering, sampling, and statistical evaluation of data via methods such as surveys and field research. Qualitative research methods also include field research, as well as interviewing, ethnographic research, and content analysis, with a view to furthering theory by documenting the experiences of offenders and other people involved in the criminal justice system.

To find examples of articles that use particular research methods, your best bets are PsycINFO or SAGE Research Methods. For more information on how to do this, see CRCJ 3001 (quantitative) or CRCJ 3002 (qualitative). 

General Criminology Sources:

Many universities that have criminology programs will have research institutes producing very high-quality research studies. These include:

The National Criminal Justice Reference Service is a US-funded resource with justice and drug-related information to support research, policy, and program development worldwide.

Learn more about restorative justice via Restorative Justice Online, an initiative of the Prison Fellowship International's Centre for Justice and Reconciliation.


Legal Research:

For help with legal research, consult the resources listed in the Law Subject Guide. More detailed help can be found in the Canadian Legal Research and Writing Guide, originally created by a lawyer who was also a legal research instructor at UBC.



Many associations and organizations, both governmental and non-, are a good place to find research, policy, and guidelines on various topics related to criminology. Some suggestions are below.





Make sure you check with your professor which citation style he or she would like you to use when referencing your work in your assignments. The most commonly used citation style in criminology at Carleton is APA. MacOdrum Library has a tip sheet to give you some guidance, or you can consult the APA section of the website for the Online Writing Lab of Purdue University, which is extremely helpful. For information on other citation styles, check out our How-To page on Citing Your Sources.

Avoiding plagiarism:

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to plagiarize is "to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own [or] use (another's production) without crediting the source".

  • 5 tips to avoid plagiarism:
  1. TAKE NOTES: writing down page numbers and references throughout your research is a good way to save time when you need to quote and cite sources.
  2. NEVER copy and paste material unless you cite it properly.
  3. At the end of each paper/report you must CITE ALL SOURCES  you have used, whether you quote them directly or paraphrase the ideas.
  4. LEARN AND USE citation style guides and citation management tools.
  5. When in doubt, ask for help!

A couple of other texts that you may find useful:

Content last reviewed: May 5, 2020