Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Criminal Justice

Analysis of the Subject Field

  • Currentness of collection: Because the curriculum is directed toward developing knowledge, skills, and abilities required by middle managers and highly specialized professionals, collection emphasis has been and remains on current materials; however since the criminal justice program has been a major program for so long, the collection also contains a fair amount of retrospective materials which may be supplemented from time to time if special opportunities arise.
  • Language: English is the primary language of the monograph and serials collection. Materials in other languages are selectively ordered in consultation with area studies bibliographers. Gifts are also accepted from MSU School of Criminal Justice faculty and graduates in other countries. [Korean criminal justice publications have been received in this fashion (1998).]
  • Geography: The major focus is on the United States and Michigan. However, due to the large number of international students who have participated in the criminal justice program over the years, and the increasing internationalization of criminal justice issues, materials about criminal justice in and from other parts of the world are collected as identified.
  • Types of materials and formats: Monographs and serial publications are the most commonly acquired types of publications. This includes indexes, abstacts, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and specialized bibliographies. Transactions and proceedings are acquired selectively, as are major microform or print collections. Due to the demise of the Instructional Media Center Library and an increase in demand for film and videos to support the criminal justice curriculum, the library has started purchasing requested items in this area as well on a limited basis. Textbooks by MSU faculty or in primary emphasis areas may be acquired. Electronic databases at present include Criminal Justice Abstracts, Criminal Justice Periodical Index, and NCJRS, as well as a number of additional databases covering gray literature.
  • Data:  Adding research data is a potential step for this subject collection. For local guidelines see  http://libguides.lib.msu.edu/c.php?g=139267   For possible depositories consult Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science List of Data Repositories and DataBib.  For a specific example see  the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data. at the University of Michigan.

MSU School of Criminal Justice and Research

Empirical research is an integral part of Michigan State University’s land-grant mission.  Specifically, MSU scholars seek to apply research findings to real-world problems with the goal of  developing solutions, improving lives, and advancing knowledge. The faculty at the School of Criminal Justice actively contribute to this mission, conducting interdisciplinary research on a range of topics related to crime, victimization, justice, and law.

Major projects have been funded by these organizations:

  • U.S. Department of Justice
    Bureau of Justice Assistance
    Community Oriented Policing Services
    National Institute of Justice
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Forensic Science Foundation
  • U.S. Department of the Army
  • U.S. Department of Air Force
  • U.S. Department of Defense
  • Michigan State Police
  • Michigan Department of Human Services
  • Mott Foundation
  • Michigan Department of Community Health
  • Guggenheim Foundation.

These research projects inform policy and practice through outreach and engagement efforts as well as professional training opportunities.  The integration of cutting-edge research into undergraduate and graduate coursework also provides a unique opportunity for student learning and practical experience.

More about Criminal Justice Research

Qualitative versus quantitative studies in criminal justice

Qualitative studies are typically those that wish to gain understanding regarding the interactions that take place within a certain social world. For example, someone wanting to study how gang leaders function in their world, how they interact with others (including gang members, leaders of other gangs, and regular people) and how they perceive their role in the community would find that a qualitative approach would be best. Some of the most common ways to conduct a qualitative study are observation, participant observation, and interviews. It is best to think of qualitative studies as wanting to understand the actual ways that a social world functions and how the participants in a particular social world go about living, working, interacting, and feeling about their place in that setting.

A quantitative study is where researchers typically want to identify whether or not a statistical relationship exists between variables and how strong or prevalent such a relationship is. For example, if someone wants to understand the relationship between individuals’ level of education and their tendency to commit property crime, then they would most likely have to examine this relationship through the quantitative approach. The most common way that this study would be conducted would be to use a survey or to construct measures of educational achievement and crimes committed from official sources, and then conduct statistical analyses to identify any potential relationships between the variables of education and crime type. Surveys in criminal justice and criminology official records are the most common form of data used for statistical analysis in quantitative social science studies.

Quantitative studies are favored by leading Criminal Justice journals.

Source : How to Write a Literature Review, Journal of Criminal Justice Education, Vol. 24, Issue 2, 2013, pp.218-234

Previous research has found that CCJ scholars rely heavily on secondary data resources (e.g. Uniform Crime Reports and National Crime Victimization Survey, NCVS) when conducting research (Kleck, Tark, & Bellows, 2006). Another large data source for CCJ researchers is the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), which has made numerous CCJ datasets available to researchers since the 1970s (Hagan, 2012).

The use of secondary data by scholars in CCJ is an attractive option for obvious reasons. First, the use of previously collected data eliminates the enormous amount of time associated with designing a research project and data collection. Naturally, then, secondary data analysis also reduces the financial cost of collecting original data. Two disadvantages of using secondary data include delays in public access to the data, along with the year(s) in which the data were actually collected. To date, virtually no attention has been paid to the age of data being analyzed and published in the field.

First, conducting primary data collection typically requires considerable financial resources. Receiving such financial resources through grant agencies is highly competitive and requires a considerable amount of time. This places junior faculty at a disadvantage because they have limited time to produce a body of scholarship that is tenure-worthy. In the absence of having such funds, untenured faculty are apt to mine data warehouses such as the ICPSR and the NACJD which store significant numbers of datasets ready for quick analysis. Interestingly, because reviewers for top-tier journals are receptive to articles formulated from these data reservoirs—even those with data older than 10 years—there is little incentive for scholars to collect their own data. In fact, because of the potential for these datasets to generate multiple articles, there is even less incentive.

Source : Is Criminology Out-of-Date? A Research Note on the Use of Common Types of Data, Journal of Criminal Justice Education, Volume 25, Issue 1, 2014, pp.16-23

Michigan State University