Research Methods, crju 5003, Fall 2016

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Research Methods, CRJU 5003, Fall 2016
Professor: Callie Marie Rennison, PhD Tuesday, 5pm-7:45pm

Email: Location: NO 3210

Office Hours: Tues 4:00-4:50pm or by appt.
Course Description/Objectives

This course reviews/introduces methods for research design and data collection in criminology and criminal justice. Topics covered are intended to enhance student's abilities to be sound consumers of research, and to provide students with the tools needed to successfully conduct basic research in the areas of crime, victimization and other justice issues. It introduces students to the research methods used to conduct criminological and criminal justice research, exposes them to some classic research, and instructs them how to read and think critically research monographs.

Required Texts
Best, Joel. (2012). Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists. Updated second edition. University of California Press.

Bachman, Ronet & Schutt, Russell K. (2015). The Practice of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Third Edition. Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA.

Highly Recommended Software
Student version of SPSS. ANY VERSION WILL DO. If you want to purchase your own version, it is available for about $200 online. Or, some online stores lease it for 6 months for about $46. For example:
SPSS is installed on all machines in the data labs as well.
Recommended Readings
Pyrczak, F., & Bruce, R. (2013). Writing Empirical Research Reports. 8th edition. Pyrczak Publishing.
Galvan, J. (2014). Writing Literature Reviews. 6th edition. Pyrczak Publishing.
Kirkpatrick, L., & Brooke, F. (2016). A Simple Guide to SPSS for Windows. 12th edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Patten, M.L. (2000) Questionnaire Research: A Practical Guide. 2nd edition. Pyrczak Publishing.
Patten, M.L. (2005). Proposing Empirical Research: A Guide to the Fundamentals. 3rd edition. Pyrczak Publishing.
Additional readings may be required and will be available either online on Canvas or in the library in a variety of journals. I may assign other material as the semester progresses and/or I may alter the reading schedule (presented below) so be prepared to be flexible.
Lab Space and Usage
Your paper will require you to use SPSS software. As mentioned above, you may wish to purchase this (or you may have access already). If you don’t wish to purchase it and do not have access at work or home, you can use computers at the university that have this software. For example, you can use the Lab machines in the SPA suite (Lawrence Street Building, suite 500). The lab is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You will need to get authorization for after hours by going to the front desk in (again, suite 500) and obtaining the form from Gabrielle Makray. Once completed, she will process the form. I’ve no idea how long it may take so do this with plenty of time before you think you’ll need it.
Your login information for the lab computers is the same as the logon to the student e-mail. PLEASE NOTE that the system sometimes does not synch right and UCD personnel have to ‘activate’ your account again. If a student does have problems they can ‘activate’ their account using this link:

If you have activation issues, you may also contact Rob Drouillard, our I.T. Coordinator in The School of Public Affairs at:, Office- 303-315-2211


Participation is a must. You are expected to read the assigned readings before you come to class so you can discuss your thoughts/questions regarding them. In addition, take advantage of class time to work through issues on your class project.
Thought Papers. (together these count toward 25% of your final grade). Several “thought” papers are required in this class. These papers are to be about five to seven pages in length, typed, double-spaced, 12 point font, with standard margins. The purpose of these papers is to demonstrate your comprehension of the material and your ability to apply it at the level expected for a student in graduate school. Failing to turn in any thought paper will result in a zero for this portion of your grade. All papers must be typed and double-spaced using 12-pt font. All papers much use APA style or the paper will have 25 points deducted immediately. No paper may be emailed to me. Papers must be submitted via Canvas. NO LATE PAPERS ARE ACCEPTED.
THINK I WILL ADD SOME APA ASSIGNMENTS AND SOME LITERATURE REVIEW ASSIGNMENTS. Also add in a review of a journal article so they can see the parts..
Paper 1 covers phase 1. (25% of your final grade) This is the first half of your final paper. This formal, graduate level paper should take the form of a detailed research proposal. The Patten book Proposing Empirical Research will be very useful for this phase of your paper. The finished paper should include the following sections at a minimum: Introduction, Literature Review, Theory (if relevant), Methods (with subsections such as sample, instrumentation, & procedures).

Do not use the programs available on the web to generate survey instruments (e.g., survey monkey). Any online computer generated instrument will not be fielded meaning you will get a zero on phase 2.
Paper 2 covers phase 2. (25% of your final grade). This phase requires that the student make at least 20 copies of their instrument and administer them to appropriate respondents. In addition, you need to provide me with two copies of the survey that I will fill out and return to you. You will need to develop a code sheet for the instrument. When you receive your 20+ completed instruments, you must code each instrument, clean the data, and enter the data into SPSS. The report for this phase begins where phase 1 ended. It is in essence the beginning of detailed “Results/Findings Section” in an empirical report. You need to discuss the findings, a discussion and your conclusions. This portion of the paper should include a publishable table of all variables (with coding information) as an Appendix.
The product turned in for this portion includes all completed surveys, code sheet, and Part II of the paper (including tables and references).
Exam. (25% of your final grade). The only exam which covers all material in the course will be given on the last day of class (Monday, May 7th).
Your assignment(s) are due the moment you walk into class on the day they are due. If you have some sort of conflict, see me well before the assignment is due (at least two weeks). You may turn in your papers/assignments early. I do not read papers or assignments prior to the due date in order to give you feedback. LATE PAPERS ARE NEVER ACCEPTED.
Missing exams
You will not miss the exam for any reason that you have not cleared with me at least 2 weeks prior to the scheduled exam date. Failure to do this will earn you a zero on the exam. Make up exams will be given at my convenience and will be 100% essay.
Course Grade Scale
100 point scale:

87-89 B+ 77-79 C+ 67-69 D+ 59 or less F

93-+ A 83-86 B 73-76 C 63-66 D

90-92 A- 80-82 B- 70-72 C- 60-62 D-


If I have information to pass on to you (i.e., location of a particular article, change in class location, cancellation of class), I will inform you via email on Canvas.
I do not take attendance. If you do miss class you do not need to call me when you are not coming to class, nor do you need to bring me a doctor’s notes or other documentation to miss a regular (i.e., test day being a major exception) class. Though I don’t take role, please note that missing class is not a good idea. It is clear that students who exhibit poor attendance do poorly at best. Further, if you miss class, I cannot offer a one-on-one lecture to cover what you missed. Be sure to make a buddy who can fill you in on the missed material.
Dropping the Course
Please refer to University requirements regarding drop days and policies. If you are on the class roll at the end of the semester, you will be given a grade.
Students with Disabilities
Students with disabilities who believe that they may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact the Disability Access Services Office as soon as possible to ensure that such accommodations are arranged in a timely fashion.
Academic Honesty
Cheating/Plagiarism is simply not tolerated. If you have questions about what plagiarism does and does not constitute, please see me and we can discuss it. It is better to ask and be certain than it is to suffer the severe consequences of this activity. Should an assignment be plagiarized, or you be found to behave in an academically dishonest fashion, you will be awarded a zero for that assignment, and you will be referred to the appropriate university authorities.

"Life is like a monkey, it just keeps flinging poo at you."

The trick is to keep going even when you’ve been hit.

I am a stickler regarding personal responsibility. I will not hound you for assignments, nor will I remind you of things for which you are responsible. I do not "give out" grades - you earn them. I don’t review for exams – that is what the entire semester is all about. This means that when a grade is earned by you, I will not change it.
Course Calendar
Jan 23 Syllabus/ Assigning/selecting research topics

Where are the readings located?

How do I get the most out of these readings?

What do I expect to get out of this class?

What is a peer-reviewed academic journal article?

What are the expectations of graduate school-level writing?

Graduate school and expectations.
Jan 30 Best’s Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists.
Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes (2000). “Full Report of the Prevalence,

Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings From

The National Violence Against Women Survey” NCJ 183781. (It’s long! May not want to print. You need to be able to discuss statistics in the report using information gleaned in Best’s book.)
Thought Paper 1 is due
Feb 6 M&B, Ch 1, Crime, Criminal Justice, and Scientific Inquiry
M&B, Ch 2, Theory and Criminal Justice Research
Thought Paper 2 is due
Feb 13 M&B, Ch 3, Ethics and Criminal Justice Research

Thought Paper 3 is due
Feb 20 M&B, Ch 4, General Issues in Research Design
Feb 27 No Class. In DC at the National Academies
March 5 M&B, Ch 5, Concepts, Operationalization, and Measurement
Thought Paper 4 is due
M&B, Ch 6, Measuring Crime
Rand, Michael, R. and Callie Marie Rennison. (2002). "True Crime Stories?

Accounting for Differences in our National Crime Indicators" Chance. 15:1.
March 12 ACJS Annual Meetings – No class
March 19 Spring Break
March 26 M&B, Ch 8, Sampling
Thought Paper 5 is due
April 2 M&B, Ch 9, Survey Research and Other Ways of Asking Questions
Phase 1 paper due
April 9 Lecture on how to deal with your surveys – coding, cleaning, entering into SPSS
2 copies of your survey instruments are due to me – I will be filling them out and returning them to you so be prepared to code and clean them.
April 16 M&B, Ch 7, Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs

White, M., Goldkamp, J. & Robinson, J. (2006). Acupuncture in drug treatment: Exploring its role and impact on participant behavior in the drug court setting. Journal of Experimental Criminology. 2(10):45-65.
M&B, Ch 10, Field Research
Lucia, S., Herrmann, L. & Killias, M. (2007). How important are interview methods and questionnaire designs in research on self-reported juvenile delinquency? An experimental comparison of Internet vs paper-and-pencil questionnaires and different definitions of the reference period. Journal of Experimental Criminology. 3(1):39-64.
M&B, Ch 11, Agency Records, Content Analysis, and Secondary Data

Cobbina (2008) “Race and Class Differences in Print Media Portrayals of Crack Cocaine and Methamphetamine”.
April 23 M&B, Ch 13, Interpreting Data

M&B, Ch 12, Evaluation Research and Policy Analysis
April 30 Report findings on your research paper

Phase 2 paper due
May 7 Last day of class: The Exam

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