Research proposal guide
Final paper description (for reference)
Students will write a six-page research paper on a crime-related problem of their choice. The
assignment tests students’ ability to apply criminological concepts and theories to real-life issues
in a critical manner. You are free to use any concepts from the class for your study. Detailed
requirements for the research paper will be covered in class after Quiz #1.
The proposal is designed to prepare you to write your final paper. Things you need to do
in your proposal:
• Identify a crime topic that interests you — this can be anything from new laws,
emerging crime trends, new classifications of crimes, racial inequalities in sentencing,
the political significance of the media preoccupation with sensationalist crimes,
depictions of crime in popular culture (video games etc).
• You should identify a problem that you wish to study about your topic. For example, if
you are interested in bill C-51, you might identify “the erosion of rights of suspects” as
your problem. If you are interested in the way DNA is used to explain why people
commit crimes, you might identify “the return of biological theories of criminality” as a
problem to study. Maybe you are tired of arguments that violent video games make
children more violent, and wish to refute this using some real research findings.
• Concisely (4-8 sentences) describe exactly what the topic is, what the problem
is, and why it is an issue
• Identify data sources — you are studying a crime problem, so you need to get
information about what it is and why it is a problem. If you are skeptical about the
falling crime rate in Canada, the methodologies and results of the GSS and the CSI
would be reasonable data sources. If you are concerned with prisoners’ conditions in
Canadian jails, you might identify some personal testimonies or studies of prisoners’
conditions. If your problem is the “negative depiction of X population as criminals/
deviants in the media”, then you might identify specific media stories that demonize
your population of choice.
• Indicate your argument (2-5 sentences) — your paper is applying criminological
concepts to make some kind of argument about your topic. You need to identify what
you are hoping to argue. For example, you might be arguing that C-51 is likely to
make terrorism more likely; or perhaps you intend to argue that violent video games
have a more damaging effect than violent movies, for example. Your argument does
not have to be fully formed — I just need to be able to advise you on whether it is
reasonable or not.
• Identify as least TWO scholarly articles/books that you will use in your paper
(references + 4-8 sentences) — your final paper must reference at least five
academic sources. You need to find some criminological (preferably — sociology/
political science/psychology ok too, if it’s just 1–2) academic articles/books to help
make your argument. For example, if you are arguing that Canadian judges are too
lenient in their sentencing, then you will want to look at research on trends in
Canadian sentencing. If you are interested in DNA as a predictor of criminality, then
you should look at recent studies that attempt to link or refute the link between
genetics and criminal behaviour. To give another example, if you are arguing that
Harper’s “tough on crime” plan is not a factor in reducing the crime rate in Canada,
you should do some research on variables that have been identified to affect the crime
rate in Canada. Explain why you chose each article — tell us how it is related to a.
your topic; and b. your argument.
The response must fill one typed, single-spaced, standard-sized page (or two typed
pages double-spaced). You should choose a standard, size 12 font (e.g. Times New
Roman, Georgia, Helvetica or Arial). You will be penalized if the margins are
suspiciously sized. References are not required, but you may quote from your identified
articles if it helps you to explain your argument. References should be as short as
possible to make your point. For example: Dan’s irritating attention to detail is evinced
by his requirement that students “choose a standard font” (Smith, 2008, p. 1). You need
a references page for your data sources and academic articles. Use APA format for your
references page — correct citation style is a part of grammar/style. APA format is
described here: http://libguides.kpu.ca/apa
The proposal has to be written in sentences, with good style, presentation, and spelling.
You may use headings to divide the proposal, but it might just waste space.
This assignment is designed so that I can give you feedback and advice to help you
produce the best possible final paper. That said, the assignment is also graded, so it is
important that I see some evidence that you have put time and thought into your final
paper. You are all capable of identifying a good topic and coming up with a relevant
argument. If you are having problems, get in touch with me well before the deadline — I
am completely happy to sit and help you workshop your proposal.
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