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CJS4030 Criminal Justice Research Methods (Sabot): Research Method


1.      Statement of Problem

2.      Concepts/Conceptualization

3.      Hypothesis/Research Question

4.      Variables of Interest

5.      Operationalization

6.      Measurement, Validity and


7.      Research Design

8.      Sampling/Sample Design

9.      Data Collection Plan

10.    Data Analysis

11.    Ethics

12.    Conclusion/Look Toward the


*From Professor Sabot's Handout*

Discussion of Steps

Step 1:

  • State the general problem area.  What topic are you investigating and why?  Remember that a good topic answers the “so what” question.  Use what you have learned in class and supplemental course readings to identify a good topic worthy of research.

Step 2:

  • Conceptualization-- a mental process whereby fuzzy and imprecise notions/concepts are made more specific and precise.
  • What are the two (or more) concepts that you are trying to link? (These are your variables. Make sure you can identify the IV and DV)
  • Conceptualize your two main concepts.  Be sure that at least one concept is abstract.  For example, relating gender to the last year of school completed is not sufficient.

Step 3:

  • State the specific hypothesis/research question that you will examine.
  • Note: As discussed in class, and as you are seeing in many of the articles, in the social sciences, we often use research questions, as opposed to hypotheses.  Make sure you know which to use and why.  Assess the connection of such to whether quantitative, qualitative or triangulation of methods is most appropriate to help you make this decision.

Step 4:

  • Identify the independent variable and the dependent variable in the hypothesis.  How did you determine which variable was independent and which was dependent?
  • What variables, if any, will you control for and why?

Step 5:

  • Operationalization-- concrete empirical procedures that result in the measurement of variable.
  • Working with your conceptualization, operationalize your concepts.  Be very clear on how you will measure your concept.

Step 6:

  • At what level is each variable measured?
  • Discuss the reliability and validity of your measurements.  What techniques will you use to assess the reliability and validity of your measurements?

Step 7:

  • What type of research design will you use to collect and analyze your data?  Why did you select that design?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of the selected design?

Step 8:

  • Do you plan to sample?  If yes, what kind of sampling design will you use and why?  Explain your sampling procedure.  If you do not plan to sample, why not?

Step 9: 

  • What type of data collection technique will you use and why?  Note the advantages and disadvantages of the selected technique.
  • Remember that you will be collecting very simple data.  You may do a survey, interview, use secondary data (using one of the social data banks as discussed in class), or any other method you see fit.

Step 10:

  • What kind of data analysis did you do?  Did you do descriptive and/or inferential analysis and why?
  • Provide a discussion of the meaning of your data.  What relationships are shown?  Make sure to analyze not only the data- for the numbers- but for the meaning of such data.

Step 11:

  • What, if any, ethical considerations entered into your project?  How did you handle these issues?

Step 12: 

  • What does your research offer to the field of criminal justice in light of the previous research that you have read?  (This is where you tie in the articles to your research.  What do you offer that they don’t?).  What have you learned about social research in doing this project? 

*From Professor Sabot's Handout*