The End RESEARCH METHODS
Final Paper Assignment
In an 8-10 page paper (excluding title page or References section), you will describe a
The End RESEARCH METHODS
Final Paper Assignment
In an 8-10 page paper (excluding title page or References section), you will describe a secondary research project on a topic of interest in social science. Your paper should demonstrate all you have learned throughout the class in properly applying research methods knowledge to criminal justice topics using any dataset you are comfortable with (for example, from the ICPSR or the NACJD assignments earlier in the course – you may even use the same dataset you used for those assignments). A detailed reading of your textbooks should assist you in making the paper a quality product!
The paper will contain the following elements:
1. Title Page, running head, abstract
2. Short Introduction: Identify the topic, your thesis statement, and give an explanation of why it is important (maybe parts of week 1 assignment)
3. Background and Need: Introduction and Framing of the Research Issue/Problem
a. Literature Review: What do we as a field already know about the topic? (week 7 assignment)
i. In-text citations are especially important in this part
b. The current study: How does your research address a hole in the literature? (you might have a very brief summary of your dataset/methodology here, which will lead directly into the next section…)
4. Objectives: What is the point/goal of your study?
a. Research Questions: What are you specifically trying to learn? This should be a very detailed question that is more specific than your overall topic.
5. Method: How are you going to answer your research question(s)? This is where you’ll describe the dataset in detail.
a. Subjects for Study: From whom or on what did the original researchers collect data? How did they select them? This should include a detailed discussion of the sampling strategy or selection process. This is also the most likely place to address ethics considerations for the participants.
b. Measurement: What are the key variables in the dataset that your analysis will focus on and how did the original researchers define and measure them? (conceptualization and operationalization)
c. Data Collection Methods: How did the researchers actually collect the data? What methodological approach did they use to get the data from/about individuals/groups/etc.? Sometimes this is called ‘Procedure(s)’ where you spell out step-by-step what the participants did/how they actually obtained the data from them
d. Analysis: What is the thing you are trying to learn and why will this particular dataset will tell you that information? What statistical tests would you do to get the answers to your research questions? (This section should both address descriptive statistics for all your variables, as well as at least 1 inferential test)
6. Results: Describe your findings in both table and written format. How did you clean, recode and/or create indices (if needed), and analyze the data, etc.? At least 1 table is needed, though you may easily include more, and all tests need to be described in written format. This part should not include any discussion or interpretation of the results, but instead just simply state the findings themselves (in a clear, easy to understand way) and leave the broader discussion for the next section.
7. Discussion: How do the results you found inform the overall field of study? Often there are tie-ins from the literature review in this part and you may expand on the results here – what does it mean and why does it matter?
a. Limitations: Critically analyze the dataset and your results to address anything that might need to be known to have a full understanding of how much the findings can be generalized to new populations or different contexts.
b. Implications for policy and/or future research: What impact could your study results have? Does it inform new policy decisions or give strength to an existing policy? What new ideas or research questions have you thought of in this process to study at a future time?
8. Significance/Conclusion: Why should others care about your research?
a. This is the very last place where you can make the case for why your study matters – these should be strong statements the sum up the research and need for better understanding of the study topic overall
9. References Cited: Minimum of 10 scholarly, peer-reviewed research articles required
a. You may have as many additional references as you would like, however please be sure they are reputable, respected, scholarly sources – not Wikipedia or someone’s blog
b. Each of these citations should also be properly cited ‘in-text’, meaning in all the other sections of your paper where you state facts will need to give credit to the original author(s) of those facts by an in-text citation
Keep in mind that proper formatting and grammar are important!! You will need to do at least a few rounds of revising and editing to create a good final paper, so please have early drafts done in advance of the deadline to give yourself a chance to polish it up before you turn in the final copy to me for grading.