Scientific method class
To design an empirical study for this research paper, you need to read at least 3 empirical studies to see how other researchers studied this topic”
here is how to prepare to write the research proposal paper. The outline of the paper is provided in the syllabus:
1) overview of the problem and a relevant theoretical model;
2) literature review (minimum 3 peer-reviewed empirical articles, ideally at least 5 scholarly sources);
3) section on data and methods;
4) section on discussion and interpretation of potential results
When choosing a topic you want to research, make sure you get a good idea of what has already been done in the area of your interest and what other researchers findings are (you dont want to re-invent the wheel!). Thats why you need to review the existing literature first.
Search university online databases Criminal Justice Abstracts and Academic Search Complete, read the latest issues of journals such as Criminology, Criminology & Public Policy, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, and other respected outlets. A good place to start is Google Scholar enter the keywords for your search, restrict the date of publication to the last 10-15 years, and look through the abstracts of articles to get a sense of what type of studies were done on the topic that interests you (it can be any topic within criminal justice).
After reading through the studies that are most interesting to you, see if you can identify gaps in the methods or findings or the state of knowledge on the topic. This way, you can formulate a new research question that has not been addressed yet. Alternatively, you can think of some way to improve/expand on the existing studies to address the same research question they are addressing, but in a new research design, using somewhat different methods or approaches, on a novel population or using a different type of sampling that has a potential to bring new knowledge.
Now, here are the main elements that I expect to see in your research paper.
When you narrowed down your research idea and figured out the theory behind it, lay out your theoretical model (draw a diagram if appropriate). Write down your null and alternative hypotheses as appropriate.
Next, figure out how you are planning to measure the key concepts identified in your research hypotheses. Choose and discuss your methods (survey, experiment, secondary data analysis, etc.), sources of data, units of analysis, and sampling strategy.
Next, discuss what kind of results you expect to obtain and what these results would mean for your hypotheses and theory.
Bonus points would be awarded if you can discuss the limitations of your research and possible alternative explanations for the findings that you expect, potential threats to validity of your inferences, etc. (that is, you should be able to assess your project skeptically)
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