Criminal Justice Research Process & Terminology Paper

Criminal Justice Research Process & Terminology Paper

Research in the field of Criminal Justice has undeniably grown into one of the largest consolidated efforts toward its role at a science. Its efforts for collecting, analyzing and reporting data can be subjected to many complexities during research, as with many other sciences. With formidable gains in technology and the professional experience of many of the fields scholarly trained experts aiding its findings, it has become a valuable tool for many in the field of criminal justice. According to Frank Hagan, critics of many applications of scientific research to the criminal justice system view such efforts as either elucidation of the irrelevant, obscure jargonizing, or academic intimidation—a detailed elaboration of what any person with common sense knows Hagan pg, 2, 2010).” This report will examine the scientific approach to criminal justice research, while exploring much of the new terminology and knowledge made available from the course curriculum. There are many research methods available in the criminal justice field. Most of them observe, collect, report, and make attempts to remedy problems yielded through its studies. Much of it is analyzed and carefully researched using scientific research, sociological and psychological theories, and in many instances statistics that provide knowledge that in some instances aid in policy and program development for the professionals who use its data to minimize problems. According to Mihaela Tomitã, criminal statistics have remained the main instrument of knowledge of crime lately as a number of specialists and researchers have conducted significant studies and combined qualitative research methods with quantitative ones (Tomita, 2010).” Many facets of this report will offer examples of the terminology and point out its importance to all professionals in the criminal justice field. Implementation of general rules aimed at the effectiveness of its data collection will ultimately assist in solidifying the notion that the field is one that employs scientific ethics who findings can be ethical and helpful in assisting criminal justice professional with everyday challenges that accompany their profession.

Frank Hagan argues that “many of the terms used in everyday conversation originated in social science research; however, little credit is given for these theoretical accomplishments because the discoveries, once labeled, were quickly absorbed into conventional wisdom (pg 4, 2010).” He attributes this discovery to “the common sense approach” He supports his assertion with an excerpt from a 1987 entry from authors Brown & Curtis who noted: “Many practitioners within criminal justice have met with repeated failure over the years because they relied upon only their common sense. Thus, millions of dollars have been spent on police patrol efforts that do not reduce crime, judicial practices that are widely perceived as unfair, rehabilitation programs that do not rehabilitate offenders and countless other failures (Hagan, pg. 3, 2010).” There have been many challenges of the years to criminal justice professionals in their efforts to mend the tear in our social fabric. One can argue without a foundation from which to build, the problems would continuously become more complex and stalled. Having sound terminology and knowledge available to professionals in the field would prove beneficial in supporting the incorporation of scientific research, collection and data, and ultimately solutions that influence the professional ethics of those who work in the field.

According to Hagan, “rather than viewing certain elementary research concepts and procedures in scientific methodology as foreign elements, the criminal justice professional may, once he or she has mastered them, discover very valuable tools for assessing current and future directions in the field (pg. 5, 2010).” He maintains many professionals in the field of criminal justice will see benefits from tools available and be able to dismiss a lot of anxious moments that will at times challenge everyday situations encountered on the job. He lends support to the usefulness of this terminology and knowledge by asserting “in most cases, they simply lack conceptual frameworks, scientifically acceptable tags, or sufficient knowledge of the language of research methods to defend their views in an appropriate manner (pg. 5, 2010).” Although, one can argue with a degree of certainty, the importance of knowing proper terminology and knowledge; it becomes even more prevalent for professionals who conduct criminal justice research.

Hagan discusses the probabilistic nature of science and the power many social scientist, criminologist, and criminal researcher’s have given the premise that certain effects will often under specific circumstances yield similar results, although, not in every one (2010). Hagan notes; “in predicting general patterns, trends, and relationships among groups, social scientists do not expect these patterns to hold in each individual case or do not expect absolute determinism (pg. 7, 2010).” One can argue, here that criminal justice professionals who have precise tools and research methodology to follow can be more successful and effective in the performance of their jobs. Operating spontaneously or assuming every situation is the result of similar circumstances may introduce bias, prejudice, and most importantly hinder arrival at a solution. Using information from gains achieved in a Chicago project, he paints a picture as to the progression of criminal justice research’s march towards acceptance as a scientific entity. In this project which was introduced in 1994, human development and the content of factors to be studied was a good example of detail that should accompany this type of research model. He lauds the methods of research from this study as “the largest longitudinal study ever undertaken in criminal justice/criminology, noting that the NIJ’s Project of Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods was unprecedented in scope. It examined a broad range of factors at the community, family, and individual level that were believed predictors of crime and deviance (pg 11, 2010).” Additionally, support for knowing and utilizing terminology when evaluating and analyzing research studies and data was detailed in another exhibit that explored crime analysis in regards to applied criminal research (2010). He listed the following types of crime analysis introduced and researched by Steven Gottlieb, Sheldon Arenberg, and Raj Singh’s Crime Analysis (1994) as the classic work in the burgeoning applied research field of crime analysis: Crime Analysis, Intelligence analysis, Operational analysis, and Investigative analysis (pg. 13, 2010). Understanding research methods and the complexities or benefits data collection has on the operation of criminal justice systems and ethical implication that often challenge its very existence can be as simple as understanding much of the terminology associated with being effective. One example, although there are many is the concepts of qualitative and quantitative research, which Hagan asserts are “sensitizing ideas or terms that enhance our understanding (pg 14, 2010).”

Qualitative research is different from quantitative in that qualitative is categorized to “reflect a historical, intuitive, or observational approach and suggests that the physical and social science are distinct entities (pg 14, 2010).” On the hand, according to Hagan, quantitative research tends to ne “concerned with measuring social or in the cases of criminal justice, reality (pg 14, 2010).” In an examining the application of variable in the research process, Hagan reveals the term“researchese.” He defines this terminology as “the language of research, which he insist is a valuable international language and a useful tool for negotiating and understanding the latest literature in the criminal justice field (Hagan pg. 15, 2010).” In examining operationalization, he explains the as terminology that describes how a process will be measured, where he adds “working definition or operational definition are other terms used to refer to this process. The notion of operationalization can be defined in response to the statement: “I measured it by (pg 16, 2010).” In discussing variables and their relevance, the author reveals variables are concepts that have been operationalized or concepts that can vary or take on
different values of a quantitative nature (pg 16, 2010).” He goes on to explain “variables may be dependent or independent, citing dependent variable ties to outcome and independent variables association with predictors (pg 16, 2010).

These very important research methods are unique in definition, however, Hagan maintains that the differences may be tied to the premise that “although both legacies are pure ideal types may represent dead ends in criminal justice research; moderate expressions of these strategies have a role in enhancing our understanding of criminal justice (pg.14, 2010).” Most professionals in the field of criminal justice will continue to use scientific research as a tool for improving problems that continue to challenge the criminal justice system. Bennett, Briggs, & Triola, adds to the discussion by introducing the importance of utilization of variables in criminal justice research. They point to “confounding variables” as available tools for researchers. They assert variables involve the utilization of “control groups in helping to ensure that we account for other variable that could affect or continue to change a study’s results (pg, 25, 2009).” Arguably one can assume that these tools along with the implementation of critical thinking in research methods. i.e., identifying the problem, analyzing the data, recording the results, and seeking solutions that seek to improve the situation lends credibility to support effective scientific research that will ultimately keep the task honest and ethical.

The criminal justice since has grown into an impressive institution in modern society. Being able to identify the daunting task of applied science and research will aid in its efforts to continue to grow and become a formidable guide for criminal law professionals in the United States and many other parts of the world. There aren’t many who would go on record believing crime may ever become non-existent, however, the criminal justice efforts in becoming better stewards at understanding it and fixing what can be fixed may arguably be tied to scientific research and the professional ethics of it criminal justice practitioners.

Bennett, J., Briggs, W., & Triola, M. (2009). Statistical Reasoning for Everyday Life (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Addison-Wesley, Inc

Hagan, F. (2010). Research Methods in Criminal Justice and Criminology (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Tomita, M. (2010). Multidisciplinary Exploration of the Social Environment for Effective Criminal Justice. Social Work Review, I(3), 121-128. Retrieved from