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Criminal Justice: Research Process


This guide contains resources intended to help students in their research on criminal justice and related topics.  Open the various tabs across the top for different aspects of criminal justice research. 

What is Information Literacy?

Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning.  It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning.

Information literacy (IL) is defined as a process by which students come to:

  • Recognize when they have a need for information
  • Identify the kinds of information needed to address a given problem or issue
  • Develop a search strategy and find and evaluate the needed information
  • Organize the information and use it effectively to address the problem at hand
  • Use the information legally and ethically.

In addition to finding and choosing  the kind of information that is required, keep in mind not to copy other people's writings (plagiarism), and to give credit or cite accordingly.


How to Cite

Tips for Starting Research

Know what you need:

  • State your topic in one sentence. This helps you identify keywords/phrases that describe your topic.
  • How many pages do you need to fulfill your assignment?  Knowing how many pages you need to write helps pinpoint just how much information you will need.
  • How many and what kind of sources are required?  Knowing how many and what type of sources you need helps you choose a database and limit to the sources you need whether it be scholarly journals, books, newspapers, and/or statistics.

If you need additional research help, ask a librarian.

Criminal Justice Topics


Criminal justice research combines multiple disciplines to understand both the nature of crime and how to respond to the violence and injustice of criminal activity.

Some topics include:

  • Criminology
  • Cybercrime
  • Terrorism
  • Mass incarceration
  • Criminal law and procedure
  • Law enforcement
  • Corrections
  • Human Trafficking
  • Forensic Investigative techniques
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Discrimination
  • Race and crime
  • Prisoner reentry
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Domestic Violence
  • Child Abuse

Guidelines for Evaluating Websites

Currency: the timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Is the information current or out-of date for your topic?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: the importance of the information for your needs.

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable using this source for a research paper?

Authority: the source of the information.

  • Who is the author/publisher/source/sponsor?
  • Are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations provided?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations given?
  • What are the author's qualifications to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or e-mail address
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source?

Examples: .com (commercial), edu (educational), gov (U.S. government), org (nonprofit organization) or .net                            (network)

Accuracy: the reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content.

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or referred?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem biased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar, or other typographical errors?

Purpose: the reason the information exists

  • What is the purpose of the information?  To inform?  Teach?  Sell?  Entertain? Persuade?
  • Do the authors/sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact?  Opinion?  Propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional, or personal biases?

Credit:  CSU Chico librarians.