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Prior to beginning work on this assignment, read Chapte

Prior to beginning work on this assignment, read Chapters 2, 7, and 9 from the text. Additionally, watch Bryan Stevenson at TED2012: We Need to Talk About an InjusticeLinks to an external site.. Looking ahead at your Capstone assignment in Week 5, provide an outline highlighting the major points of your assignment for review and discussion among your classmates and instructor. In your outline, include all major ideas your Capstone assignment will address, with brief two to three sentence explanations for each.

In your paper, outline the following:

  • Revise your thesis statement that you created in Week 1, which identifies your social and criminal justice issue.
    • Incorporate any feedback that you received regarding your thesis statement from your instructor.
  • Summarize your chosen social and criminal justice issue.
    • Describe what makes this an issue.
    • Provide data to show how this issue has made an impact on society.
    • Explain which social justice principles need to be addressed and why.
    • List the cultural and diversity issues present in your chosen social and criminal justice problem.
    • Evaluate how addressing your chosen issue contributes to the goal of a more just society.
  • Analyze the empirical research on your chosen topic.
    • You may use your Week 1 Annotated Bibliography to complete this section of the assignment.
  • Propose a possible resolution to your chosen social and criminal justice issue.
    • Evaluate which branches of the criminal justice system are impacted/involved and how they either help or hinder the issue.
    • Analyze how the criminal and social justice theories (in relation to the United States Constitution) and landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions impact your chosen issue and support your resolution.
    • Examine how the judiciary, corrections, and law enforcement systems address social equality, solidarity, human rights, and overall fairness for all and how these essential concepts impact your issue and resolution.
    • Evaluate how poverty, racism, religion and other sociocultural variables may apply to contemporary social and criminal justice by drawing information among the fields of, but not limited to, criminology, law, philosophy, psychology, science, and sociology.

As with all well-researched and organized writing, your topic (first) sentences of your paragraphs contain the major ideas of your assignment. Therefore, this outline can be used in the construction of the body of your Capstone Paper in Week 5. Please visit the Writing Center to access information on how to develop OutliningLinks to an external site..

The Capstone assignment Outline

  • Must be 1,000 to 1,500 words in length (not including title and references pages) and formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Writing Center’s APA StyleLinks to an external site.
  • Must include a separate title page with the following:
    • Title of assignment
    • Student’s name
    • Course name and number
    • Instructor’s name
    • Name of University
    • Date submitted

For further assistance with the formatting and the title page, refer to APA Formatting for Word 2013Links to an external site..


Typical Sections of a Research Paper

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should be able to:

• Outline the general structure of a social and criminal justice research paper, and dis- cuss the content included in each section.

• Demonstrate the necessary attention to detail with the supplemental materials pre- sented throughout the paper (figures and tables) and at the end of an APA-formatted paper (references and appendix), and be able to create a references section.

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CHAPTER 2Section 2.1 Overview of a Research Paper

The CRJ 422 Capstone project (research paper) can be described as research review because it presents and evaluates previously published research. In the research paper,

the researcher will present a thesis statement and provide a review of previous literature and studies on the topic. However, researchers are also engaged in original research, con- ducting studies focused on a specific topic or issue, or for the purpose of evaluating or advancing a new theory. This can involve asking individuals to complete questionnaires, conducting interviews, or making personal observations. Upon completion of the study, the researcher will produce a written synopsis, typically in the form of a research report, review article, or theoretical article. These may be presented in the form of articles in pro- fessional journals, can be included as book chapters or in newsletters, or provided in any number of other media outlets.

Chapter 1 provides information on how to identify and narrow the thesis statement for a sound social and criminal justice research paper. However, it is not yet time to begin the actual writing process. Much more needs to be done in terms of developing an effective outline and identifying the pertinent sections of the research paper that will be completed as the resource material is identified and compiled.

The research paper should include the following: title page, abstract, introduction, lit- erature review, conclusion, and references. This chapter will cover the basic outline that students should follow to produce a sound social and criminal justice research paper.

2.1 Overview of a Research Paper

A research paper does not pres- ent original data but will

include a thorough literature review and perhaps a suggested methodology and ideas for future research on the topic. A strong criminal justice research paper generally follows a specific struc- ture and is organized by the order in which sections of an APA-style paper appear. The author begins with a title page and abstract, then provides an introduction, presents a concise review of the literature, and ends with a comprehensive conclusion and references. Each of these sections will be covered in more detail in this chapter.

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Thorough research begins in the library.

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CHAPTER 2Section 2.1 Overview of a Research Paper

Title Page The title page (also called a cover page), along with the abstract, is typically the last section to be written. However, the title page and abstract are the first two pages of an APA-formatted paper.

There are precise formatting rules for the preparation of a manuscript in APA style. For example, the student should use Times New Roman 12-point font, double-spacing, and one-inch margins on all four sides of each page. On the title page are the running head and the page number at the top (all inside the top one-inch margin). The running head label is in mixed case, but the actual running head found on every page of the paper is all caps and limited to 50 characters (note that the words “Running Head” appear only on the title page). For example, a research paper that covers the effects that participation in a drug court has on recidivism rates might include DRUG COURTS AND RECIDIVISM across the top of every page. The last elements of the title page are the title of the research paper (no more than 12–15 words long) and the student’s school affiliation. Author notes, if included (check with your instructor to find out if these are necessary), should appear toward the bottom of the cover page. This is all double-spaced and centered toward the middle of the title page. Titles of research papers often begin with “A Study of . . . ,” “An Investigation of . . . ,” or “An Experiment on . . .” and are often used for indexing in data- bases (Sternberg, 2000). The title needs to be clear and concise and must convey specifi- cally what the paper is about, but it also needs to be creative and enlightening in order to attract the attention of potential readers. An example title page is shown in Figure 2.1.

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CHAPTER 2Section 2.1 Overview of a Research Paper

Figure 2.1: Sample title page


An Investigation of the Effects of Drug Court

Participation on Recidivism Rates

Clint Westwood

CRJ 422 Criminal Justice Capstone

Professor Callahan

August 25, 2012

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CHAPTER 2Section 2.1 Overview of a Research Paper

Abstract The next page of a research paper is the abstract. This might be the most difficult single paragraph for students to write, but it is one of the most important. The abstract provides a synopsis of the main points of the paper, identifying the thesis statement, an analysis of the literature review, and a brief summary of the conclusion. APA style limits an abstract to 120–150 words, so this paragraph must be succinct (the word count fea- ture in Microsoft® Word can eas- ily calculate this value). Because the student cannot summarize the purpose, thesis statement, literature review, and conclusion until the paper is completed, this is the last piece of the paper to be written.

An abstract for a research paper should cover the following areas (preferably in this order):

1. background and purpose: 1–2 sentences; 2. thesis statement: 1 sentence; 3. literature review: 2–3 sentences; and 4. conclusion: 2–3 sentences (Dunn, 2011).

To stay within the 150-word maximum limit, each of the preceding listed items needs to be no more than three sentences long. The abstract paragraph, appearing on page 2, is never indented. In addition, numerals (4, 6) should be used rather than spelling out the numbers (four, six), as the “numerals under 10” rule does not apply in the abstract. For a sample abstract, see page 2 of the sample papers located in the appendix.

After completing the abstract, students should add keywords (no more than five) that would help others if they were searching for the paper or topic in a database. Abstracts are vital because they are indexed and cataloged into databases like EBSCO and ProQuest. Future researchers looking to identify and retrieve articles in a given subject area will do so largely based on the abstract.


The abstract must be a clear and succinct synopsis of the main points of the research paper.

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CHAPTER 2Section 2.1 Overview of a Research Paper

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Just like meeting someone for the first time, the introduction provides a chance for your research paper to make a great first impression. It should introduce the topic, give background information, and state the paper’s purpose.

Introduction Although the introduction sec- tion is the introduction to the paper, it won’t appear until page 3 of an APA-style research paper (the title page is page 1, and the abstract is presented on page 2). The introduction provides the organization for the content of the remaining paper. Students should consider the introduction as the first impression. The reader needs to know what the paper is all about and why it is important to read. As such, it is recommended that students write the introduc- tion section after the paper has been written, in order to ensure a consistent parallel from the intro- duction through the conclusion.

An introduction has three major goals: (1) introduce the topic or issue, (2) develop the background, and (3) state the purpose and rationale for the research paper, including the thesis state- ment. This template can be particularly useful for those learning to become proficient in writing a research paper.

In the opening paragraph of the research paper, the goal is to convince the reader that the issue is worthy of study. This can be done in a number of ways. For example, statis- tics about the topic or issue can be given to convince the reader that this issue has merit and is important to study. Or, a particular behavior can be described in such a way as to illustrate that it is pervasive in daily life and matters to nearly everyone. Regardless of the technique, the first paragraph of an introduction should grab the reader’s attention and demonstrate that the topic is important. Dana Dunn (2011), an expert on writing, offered advice for possible openers in the introduction, which he called opening gambits—see Writing in Action: Possible Openers for an Introduction Section to a Social and Criminal Justice Research Paper for his suggestions.

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CHAPTER 2Section 2.1 Overview of a Research Paper

Writing in Action: Possible Openers for an Introduction Section to a Social and Criminal Justice Research Paper

• An everyday experience that readers will immediately recognize: “The criminal justice system is ever changing, as new laws and procedures are being developed on a daily basis.”

• The absence of research in an area important to understand: “High-speed pursuits are an important part of local law enforcement, but little literature exists that identifies the strengths and weaknesses of high-speed pursuit policies.”

• A rhetorical question that redirects readers to examine their own feelings about the issue: “How would you feel if your son or daughter was caught smoking marijuana while in high school?”

• A compelling fact or statistic that is typically surprising: “When the legal drinking age was increased from 18 to 21, drunk driving crashes and fatalities decreased by 66% in the first year.”

• A metaphor or an analogy that joins two seemingly disparate beliefs or ideas: “When investi- gating juvenile delinquency, all of the major influences on the juvenile’s decisions should be evaluated to identify the weak link—the juvenile cannot make proper decisions without the entire chain of influences being positive and working together.”

• An historical reference that helps to indicate change over time: “The perceived increase in the rate of rape offenses since 1950 may be due to an increase in reporting rates rather than offense rates—for instance, in 1950, rape was reported at 1 per 250,000 population, but by 2000, rape was reported at 1 per 100,000 population.”

The opening paragraph, following the opening sentence, should also clearly state why this topic or issue is of importance and why it is important to review the research that fol- lows in the literature review.

Subsequent paragraphs in the introduction should include the presentation of the thesis statement and a description of any terms or concepts pertinent to the research. At this point, students should remember that some terms may be general and well known, while others may be specific to a certain topic or issue, and thus need more explanation.

Literature Review Although briefly defined in Chapter 1, literature review (or a review of the literature, or sometimes a “lit review”) is a fairly generic term that can be used in a number of con- texts. For the social and criminal justice research paper, the literature review will require students to develop and write an integrated synopsis or summary of prior research con- ducted on a contemporary criminal justice topic or issue.

In a research paper, the literature review is more than just the student’s summary of prior research. It provides support for the thesis statement, including the rationale for the stance. The literature review may include an historical overview of the topic or issue,

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CHAPTER 2Section 2.1 Overview of a Research Paper

any prior theoretical explanations for the topic or issue, and/or a description of prior research that shows support for or against the thesis statement.

As the main portion of the research paper, the literature review should be comprehensive and include all relevant information to show a depth of knowledge and insight into the topic. However, students should understand that not every piece of information needs to be provided and that it is not expected that all relevant literature will be cited in the research paper. Students should review as many resources as time allows, and then decide which resources are relevant and pertinent to the thesis statement and which resources will provide the most thorough analysis of the topic. Given the extensiveness of the literature review, it is important to describe the most appropriate way to write one.

Galvan (2006) offered a comprehensive set of writing instructions for literature reviews. Begin by identifying the broad problem area (e.g., “peer pressure is related to the use of drugs by juve- niles”), but avoid global statements (e.g., “juve-

nile drug use is increasing”). Early in the review, indicate why the topic being reviewed is important. Distinguish between research findings, such as journal articles, and other sources of information, such as the opinions of politicians or popular media reports. In addition, researchers provide a great service to readers when they can identify why a par- ticular study is important and cite a classic or landmark study as such. If commenting on the timeliness of a topic, be specific in describing the timeframe and give the reader some context as to why that is an important detail.

Analysis of the Literature The analysis, synthesis, and evaluation components of the literature review are all impor- tant components of the research paper. Analysis means that the student has reviewed relevant literature (e.g., prior research studies) and has analyzed each resource in terms of the thesis statement. The analysis involves identifying the topic, and reviewing the data and conclusions posed by the prior researcher. Again, students should remember that just because a resource covers the topic of the thesis statement, this does not mean the resource needs to be included in the literature review.

But analysis is much more than identifying sources and choosing a direct quote or para- phrasing a portion of the material. An analysis consists of examining the written work to identify key concepts and ideas, to determine the overall benefit of the information.

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The literature review synthesizes all relevant information into a comprehensive body of support for the thesis statement.

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CHAPTER 2Section 2.1 Overview of a Research Paper

Creating a template with key questions to answer is a beneficial way to ensure that all resources are analyzed in the same manner, within the same focus. Students should also remember that the point of the analysis is to evaluate and develop their own assessment of the information in order to identify that information which is important in addressing the thesis statement.

As noted in Chapter 1, plagiarism is an important issue in any research paper. It is impera- tive that students avoid plagiarizing and give credit where credit is due. “Three different acts are considered plagiarism: (1) failing to cite quotations and borrowed ideas, (2) failing to enclose borrowed language in quotation marks, and (3) failing to put summaries and paraphrases in your own words” (Hacker, 2009). Students must remember that unless the material is common knowledge or their own original idea or concept, citations must be presented. And when in doubt, cite it!

Synthesis of the Literature Although the analysis is important, it is not enough. The goal is to synthesize the main ideas presented in each resource with a critical, evaluative viewpoint. Consider the fol- lowing literature review examples, adapted from Reaves (2004; reprinted by permission of Dr. Celia Reaves). In the first example, analysis has been completed, but the product looks more like a book report than an integrated review of the literature. Note that all of the citations and authors in the following example are fabricated (thus not presented in the references section at the end of this book).

Robinson (2005) did a study on the benefits of an antidrug after school program on young children. The results indicate that these children become better commu- nicators and more likely to tell parents or teachers of drug use by peers. Robinson studied 85 children in an after school program in Gainesville, Florida.

Jennings (2004) wrote a book chapter about the educational benefits of an anti- drug program for young children. She says the long-term effects of these programs haven’t been studied in children who attended at a young age. She says, “We are focusing on drug problems that haven’t occurred yet. Kids this young don’t know what drugs are, so why are we telling them now?” (p. 65).

Girven (2001) stated there are distinct advantages to reaching children early, before drugs become an issue. She says that children are more likely to learn in an after school type of environment than in the classroom, particularly if the educa- tion is part of a fun activity.

According to Mitchell (2004), when very young children are given information about drugs, they are less likely to give in to peer pressure in older grades. He said this not only helps them identify the drugs but also gives them resources to call on when being pressured.

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CHAPTER 2Section 2.1 Overview of a Research Paper

Lawrence (2003) pointed out that in numerous research studies, drug education has not been shown to be effective for young children. This is because there is not enough evidence that starting drug education early makes a difference.

Two researchers (Gregg & Chimel, 2006) conducted a study of a variety of after school programs. They found similar results, showing kids are more likely to resist peer pressure and drug use if they have been educated about drugs at an early age.

In another study, Reeves (2002) found that children who had been given antidrug education in an after school setting were more likely to remain drug-free in later years. They also had more friends because of the program activities.

Similarly, Reid (2001) found the same basic result. She looked at children who attended an antidrug after school program. Once again, children who were given drug education earlier were less likely to give in to peer pressure and more likely to stay drug-free.

In the format of the above literature review, each article referenced is written as an indi- vidual paragraph. The literature review indicates a thorough analysis of the topic, but there is no synthesis to the presentation of the information. Synthesis means searching for underlying themes and making connections across studies; it is not just the analysis of dif- ferent studies. Below is an example of the same information, but rewritten with synthesis:

Providing antidrug education in an after school program to young children has some advantages. It makes them more likely to resist peer pressure (Mitchell, 2004; Gregg & Chimel, 2006; Reid, 2001) and they are more likely to remain drug-free (Reeves, 2002; Reid, 2001). In addition, they are better communicators and learn more in an after school setting (Robinson, 2005; Girven, 2001).

In contrast, some researchers point to the lack of research support for giving anti- drug education to young children. Several researchers (Jennings, 2004; Lawrence, 2003) state that drug education has not been shown to be effective for young chil- dren, and the long-term effects of such programs have not been studied. As Jennings (2004) puts it, “We are focusing on drug problems that haven’t occurred yet. Kids this young don’t know what drugs are, so why are we telling them now?” (p. 65).

In this second example, the text is shorter and more concise. The references that show a similarity in a particular argument or thought are grouped together. The intellectual ben- efit of a well-written literature review is that the author has provided concise analysis and synthesis of the information for the reader, and the reader is provided with rich context for understanding the material.

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CHAPTER 2Section 2.1 Overview of a Research Paper


Have you successfully argued your thesis statement?

Conclusion The conclusion section is all about interpreta- tions. Students should carefully analyze the mate- rial and data in the literature review section and provide a concise conclusion that links the thesis statement to the literature review. In other words, the conclusion should show how the literature review supports the thesis statement.

Even with a clear link to the thesis statement, writ- ing the conclusion can be difficult. The conclusion should help the reader understand why the anal- ysis and information in the paper should matter to them, as well as make them satisfied to have read the paper. In other words, “[T]he conclusion allows you to have the final say on the issues you have raised in your paper, to summarize your thoughts, to demonstrate the importance of your ideas” and is “your opportunity to make a good final impression and to end on a positive note” (The Writing Center, 2012).

There are several strategies for writing an effec- tive conclusion. Table 2.1 identifies these strate- gies and explanations.

Table 2.1: Effective strategies for writing a conclusion

Strategy Explanation

Play the “So What” game Whenever a statement is made, ask “So what?” or “Why should anyone care?” Then answer the ques- tion in the conclusion. This strategy can be used as the conclusion is being developed.

Return to the theme in the introduction Brings the reader full circle, using key words or parallel concepts used in the introduction.

Synthesize, don’t summarize Summarize the main points, but don’t simply repeat information. Show how the points made and examples used fit together.

Propose a course of action, solution, or ques- tions for further study

Redirect the reader’s thought process to help apply your information and ideas to the reader’s own life or to see broader implications.

Point to broader implications If the paper is about a criminal theorist, point to his or her influence on later theorists. If the paper is about an innovative technology, point to its impact on the criminal justice system.

Adapted from The Writing Center, 2012

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CHAPTER 2Section 2.2 References, Tables, Figures, and Appendices

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Remember to include all of your resources in the references section.

Students should include a discussion of any limitations found in the various studies pre- sented in the literature review. In addition, the conclusion should also provide a wrap-up of the information, and comments about future research on the thesis statement.

2.2 References, Tables, Figures, and Appendices

The remaining section of the research paper includes the references and possibly an appendix. In addition, students may want to gather figures and tables to include

within the text to enhance the presentation of the material. These additions are explained in more detail in the following sections.

References The references section is vital to a research paper because it pro- vides the “intellectual path” the author followed to form, shape, and write the paper. The task of preparing citations and refer- ences “is, however, one of the most important topics regarding manuscript preparation because through citations and references you make or break your reputa- tion as a careful and thorough scholar” (Smith, 2000, p. 146). The references section is not a bibli- ography and does not list every resource that was reviewed. However, the section will contain a listing of every resource refer- enced and cited throughout the

paper. The references section starts at the top of its own page, immediately following the conclusion section.

It is important for students to understand the connection between parenthetical citations (resource information found within the text of a paper) and reference citations (resource information found on the references page). In APA format, the in-text citation includes the author(s)’s last name(s) and the year of publication within parentheses, for both direct quotes and paraphrased material. This information then connects to the full resource cita- tion that is placed on the references page. All resources cited within the text must have a corresponding full citation on the references page, which includes the author(s)’s last name, first initial, year of publication, title, publication, city and state of publication, and name of the publisher. An easy way to remember this connection is to put the reference citation on the reference page at the same time that the parenthetical citation is first placed within the text.

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CHAPTER 2Section 2.2 References, Tables, Figures, and Appendices

Given the complexity of preparing dif- ferent reference types in APA format, there are software programs (e.g., End- Note Plus™, WPCitation™, Manuscript Manager™) that aid in the bibliographic gathering of reference information. (The online library links its databases with RefWorks.) Some programs also aid directly in the preparation of research papers or manuscripts. These types of programs are fine for helping track and

organize bibliographic citations; however, do not use them in manuscript preparation. Why? First, letting the computer program do the APA formatting means writers won’t learn the details themselves (using a familiar analogy, children learn to do math by hand prior to being given a calculator). Second, if an instructor deviates from APA style (such as two spaces after a period rather than one), odds are that the software cannot be altered to follow some APA rules and not others. Try to conquer APA format first, and then, if appropriate, use a computer program to ease the workload.

Tables and Figures Tables and figures can be included in a research paper if the student deems that they will aid in the comprehension of the material. Tables are typically used to present quantitative information, whereas figures are typically used to present graphical or pictorial results.

In general, students should use these features sparingly, as they are complicated to pre- pare (more APA rules), and when used indiscriminately, tables and figures can be confus- ing to the reader. In general, it’s easier to write text in a paragraph than to prepare a table or figure in APA format. But if there is a great deal of quantitative data, a well-prepared table can be efficient and can help advance the discussion. A well-placed bar graph can be effective in showing a significant comparison in the literature.

After gathering and analyzing the data, selecting a graphic approach can be efficient at times. Tufte (1983) suggested that clear, precise, and efficient graphs should do the following:

• show the data; • encourage the viewer to think about the

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