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Current Issues in Criminal Justice (CRIM 385)
This class help page is designed to guide you through a variety of resources that may be helpful to you as you research your topic for your paper on current issues in criminal justice. Information on these topics can be found in books (electronic and print) and journals as well as on reliable web sites. Be sure to check your assignment for the exact requirements in regards to the types of sources you can use!!
Books are the best way to gather background, gain a general understanding of your topic, and then explore subjects in-depth. Reference Books, either in electronic or print, are an excellent starting point.
Credo Reference includes articles and essays from nearly 450 reference books. You may wish to limit your results to "law". Additional resources are listed at the bottom of each essay.
Sage Reference Online includes information from over 80 Sage encyclopedias. Criminal Justice is well-represented in this collection. Choose Advanced Search and limit your results to the subject "Criminology and Criminal Justice" for the most relevant results.
To see if information can be found in full-length books (print and e-books), search FLITE's online catalog. Trying Subject, Keyword, and Title searches may turn up useful results. To limit your results to e-books, from your results page, click on Availability - Online or Format - Ebooks. FLITE provides access to over 30,000 books, so the possiblity of finding book resources for topics in criminal justice is very high.
If nothing can be found, however, you may want to try Google Books. This is helpful - though by no means comprehensive - because you can search the contents of the books by keyword.
Search Google Books for your topic. If you find a "snippet" from a book that looks promising, click on "Find in a Library". Then click on "Connect to the catalog at Ferris State University Library".
Getting the Book
To get books sent to you, you have a variety of options:
If the book is available as an e-book, you can click on the link that says "connect to this electronic resource." There is a lot you can do with e-books if you download them rather than just read them on the screen. See this guide to finding online books for more information.
If Ferris owns the title in print, you can request the book be sent to you through the Interlibrary Loan form. The book will be sent to your home; to return it, you either have to send it back via UPS, return it to the Kendall Library in Grand Rapids, or bring it to the Big Rapids campus.
If Ferris or some other library in Michigan owns the book, you can request it be sent to your local public library through MelCat.
If no library in Michigan owns the book, you can also request it through Interlibrary Loan; however, this does take some time and the book will be sent to the Big Rapids campus.
This database provides selective full-text coverage to journals in the fields of law enforcement, corrections administration, social work, drug rehabilitation, criminal and family law, industrial security, and other criminal justice fields. Citations come from over 250 U.S. and intertional criminal justice journals and extend back to 1981.
With citations dating back to 1968, Criminal Justice Abstracts is prepared in cooperation with the Criminal Justice Collection of Rutgers University Library. Indexing journal articles, books, and government reports, Criminal Justice Abstracts covers such topics as crime trends, crime prevention and deterrence, juvenile delinquency, juvenile justice, police courts, and sentencing. Criminal Justice Abstracts no longer shares a search interface with Sage Criminology.
The Sage Criminology is an all full-text database with very deep backfiles, so you research your topic over a longer time span, providing you with a broader scope. Sage Criminology no longer shares a search interface with Criminal Justice Abstracts.
Academic OneFile is a database with articles covering a very large range of topics, and is always a good source to look for articles in any discipline.
Getting the Article
Once you've found citations relevant to the topic you're working with and you need to get a copy of the articles, you'll need to verify whether FLITE owns the particular journal in which each article was published. Many databases now have a link called "Find It", which gives you the range of options available to find the material. If the full text of the article is available, you will be able to find the article by clicking on the link.
Sometimes the Find It button will provide a link to the Library Catalog. This indicates that the journal is found in FLITE's print collection. If you are off-campus and can't come to FLITE, simply order the article through Interlibrary Loan and mention you are an off-campus student in the Notes field.
Find reliable publications on the the Bureau of Justice Statistics' web site and at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service web site .
Search for reliable resources in government documents in Google's US Government search engine.
Why Develop a Search Strategy?
Before starting a search, it is helpful to clarify what you are looking for by developing a search strategy. Developing a search strategy is a useful practice for several important reasons.
- Helps focus your search
- Gives you something to work with
- Saves you time in the long run
- Helps you find larger amount of relevant information
Buliding a Search Strategy
Think about the focus of your question. Summarize your topic in one or two sentences or questions; try to be as specific as possible.
Example: I want to learn about women prisoners who are mothers.
Identify key concepts. Using your summarization, idenitfy the two or three main concepts.
Example: women prisoner mother
Select terms to describe your concepts. Remember to include other words that describe these concepts including synonyms, plurals, and variant spellings.
Example: women woman female; prisoner prisoners inmate inmates; mother parent
Combine the terms into a search statement. Connect the terms that are similar with the word OR. OR tells the database that any or all terms must be included. The results will include any, but not necessarily all of these terms. Use paraentheses to group like terms together and to clarify the relationship between terms.
Example: (women or woman or female) (prisoner* or inmate*) (mother or parent)
Connect these OR concepts with the word AND between the parantheses.
Example: (women or woman or female) and (prisoner* or inmate*) and (mother or parent)
Build on what you've found. The research process is not linear but cyclical. When you find articles that seem relevant, use the subject headings, or descriptors, and citations from those articles to expand your search. This process will help you re-evaluate your ideas and refocus your search if necessary.
What if you absolutely cannot think of other search terms to describe your topic? This website KwMap.net may be useful in helping you come up with other terms. Remember you can always email or call me too!
This power point has more information on developing a search strategy: Getting Started With Research
For more information on the research process, check out this fun tutorial: The Research Process
Whenever you are quoting or using information from a source, you must credit or cite that source. Failure to do so is plagiarism which can lead to expulsion from the University.
To learn more about citations, check out this FLITE Citations page.
Print out the FLITE APA Citation Guide and use it to properly format your citations.
Another good resource for APA help is The Owl at Purdue University
Don't forget! Ferris' Writing Center will critique your papers, including biographies and works cited pages via email. Find more information at their website.
To avoid Plagiarism:
- Take clear, accurate notes about where you found specific ideas
- Write down the complete citation information for each item you use
- Use quotation marks when directly stating another person's words
- Always credit original authors for their information and ideas
For more information about Plagiarism, please explore the Plagiarism web page provided by the Ferris State University Writing Center.
Know How to Use Your Information Tools (Work Smarter, Not Harder)
- Take five minutes as you start to come up with search terms and save hours of time later on
- Do your research early
- Begin with general searches, then become more specific
- Note which database you searched and what search terms you used in your searches; when you learn new terms, you can go back and try those terms in the databases you've already searched
- Look for a marked list function to save searches
- Save your searches either by printing material, emailing citations, saving to a flash drive, or using a bibliographic database like RefWorks or Citation Machine
- Ask for help!
Plagiarism is the act of presenting another's work or ideas as your own. Plagiarism is often unintentional, but it occurs whenever you use someone else's ideas or words without giving them credit. It can be obvious - purchasing a term paper or turning in a project done by someone else. It can be putting other's ideas into your own words. It can be cutting and pasting text from a web site. A simple rule: Do not copy text from Web pages or other sources without identifying and giving credit to the original author.
Here are some ways to avoid plagiarism, taken from PILOT, the FLITE Information Literacy Online Tutorial.
One of our missions at FLITE is to offer all off-campus students access to the high-quality research materials available through the library. FLITE's subscription databases are available to all current Ferris students, faculty, and staff, including off-campus students. Our Distance Education web site should help you with any questions you may have about reaching FLITE from wherever you are. Be sure to study it c arefully and return to it often. If you experience problems logging on, please call (231) 591-2669 or (800) 4-FERRIS (ext. 2669).
Contact: Stacy Anderson / Email / Phone: 231-591-3635 / Office: FLITE 140C
Don't forget, you are welcome to come to the Oval Information Desk and ask for help any time. You can also call us 231-591-3602 or chat with us.
Last update: January 12, 2010