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Criminal Justice Research Methods Literature Review Assignment Guide

Recommended resources and strategies for completing the research for your Criminal Justice Literature Review.

How to Conduct Research for a Literature Review - Step-by-Step

The section below explains briefly how to conduct simple research. Use the tabs on the left to access best databases and websites for criminal justice research.  NOTE: You will be asked to login to the databases with your Western ID

STEP 1. Choose your topic according to the assignment you received.

STEP 2.  Use the Western Library Databases below to search for information that addresses what is already known about your topic. Begin your search with terms (words or phrases) related to your topicNOTE: Enclose multiple-word phrases in parentheses or quotes. This tells the database to search the phrase, rather than each word separately.

  • (juvenile offenders)
  • (Wisconsin law)
  • (adult court)
  • corrections
  • probation

Use them alone or in combination.

  • (juvenile offenders) AND probation
  • (adult court) AND probation
  • probation OR corrections

STEP 3. Review the list of results that pops up after you enter your search term. If there's the option be sure to click Full-Text to limit the list of results to only complete articles. Adjust the publication date to the periods you are interested in to filter out articles that may be too old to be relevant.

Notice titles and short descriptions that best match what you are looking for. Click on a title to bring up more information about the topic and access to the Full-Text version of the article (PDF or HTML). Skim the Abstract (summary). If the article looks like it may meet your needs, use the Email or Share tool to email it to yourself. Check for an option to send the citation along with the article. Repeat this process until you have a good selection. Email yourself more articles than the assignment requires. Once you begin reading the full-text version, you may find an article isn't as useful as you originally thought.

STEP 4. Open the article links in your email and read more in-depth. Things to watch for when doing a Literature Reviews:

  • how has the research evolved over time?
  • are there similar questions asked or issues discussed in more than one article?
  • what approaches or variables did the study look at?
  • what specific models have been used?


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