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The Practice of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice

The Practice of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Sixth Edition
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January 2016 | 544 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

“Most comprehensive research methods textbook in criminal justice and criminology”

—S. Hakan Can, Penn State University: Schuylkill Campus


The Practice of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice, Sixth Edition continues to demonstrate the vital role research plays by integrating in-depth, real-world case studies with a comprehensive discussion of research methods. By pairing research techniques with practical examples from the field, Ronet D. Bachman and Russell K. Schutt equip students to evaluate and conduct research. Covering research findings from critical areas in criminal justice, such as police use of force, cybercrime, and race, this text helps students understand the importance of research, not just the process.


The Sixth Edition of this best-selling text retains the strengths of previous editions while breaking ground with emergent research methods, enhanced tools for learning in the text and online, and contemporary, fascinating research findings. Students engage with the wide realm of research methods available to them, delve deeper into topics relevant to their field of study, and benefit from the wide variety of new exercises to help them practice as they learn.


Give your students the SAGE edge!


SAGE edge offers a robust online environment featuring an impressive array of free tools and resources for review, study, and further exploration, keeping both instructors and students on the cutting edge of teaching and learning. Learn more at

Chapter 1: Science, Society, and Criminological Research
Reasoning About the Social World  
The Social Science Approach  
Social Research Philosophies  
Quantitative and Qualitative Methods  
Specific Types of Research Methods  
Strengths and Limitations of Social Research  
Chapter 2: The Process and Problems of Criminology Research
Criminological Research Questions  
Social Research Foundations  
The Role of Theory  
Social Research Strategies  
Social Research Standards  
Chapter 3: Research Ethics
Historical Background  
Ethical Principles  
Research Involving Special Populations: Prisoners and Children  
Case Studies: Sexual Solicitation of Adolescents and Milgram Revisted  
Chapter 4: Conceptualization and Measurement
Case Study: Defining Youth Gangs  
Case Study: Defining Substance Abuse  
Case Study: Defining Poverty  
Case Study: Defining Inmate Misconduct  
Variables and Levels of Measurement  
Did We Measure What We Wanted to Measure?  
Chapter 5: Sampling
Sample Planning  
Sampling Methods  
Sampling Distributions  
Chapter 6: Causation and Research Design
Causal Explanation  
Criteria and Caustions for Nomothetic Causal Explanations  
Case Study: Media Violence and Violent Behavior  
Research Designs and Causality  
Case Study: Using Life Calendars: Do Offenders Specialize in Different Crimes?  
Case Study: Offending Over the Life Course  
Case Studies: Gender, Social Conrol, and Crime  
Units of Analysis and Errors in Causal Reasoning  
Chapter 7: Experimental Designs
History of Experiments  
True Experiments  
Case Study: Prison Classification and Inmate Behavior  
Case Study: The Effect of Incarceration on Employment  
Case Study: The Effectiveness of Drug Courts  
Case Study: The Effects of the Youth Criminal Justice Act  
Case Study: Reduced Caseload and Intensive Supervision in Probation  
Case Study: Does an Arrest Increase Delinquency?  
Validity in Experiments  
Factorial Survey Design  
Case Study: How Citizens View Police Misconduct  
Ethical Issues in Experimental Research  
Chapter 8: Survey Research
Survey Research in the Social Sciences  
Questionnaire Development  
Case Study: Measuring Violent Victimizations  
Writing Survey Questions  
Organization of the Questionnaire  
The Cover Letter  
Survey Designs  
Ethical Issues in Survey Research  
Chapter 9: Qualitative Methods: Observing, Participating, and Listening
Fundamentals of Qualitative Methods  
Case Study: Life in a Gang  
Participant Observation  
Case Study: The Researcher as Hooligan  
Systematic Observation  
Case Study: Studying Public Disorder and Crime  
Intensive Interviewing  
Case Study: Jurors’ Stories of Death  
Focus Groups  
Case Study: An Analysis of Police Searches  
Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research  
Analyzing Content: Secondary Data Analysis, Comparative Analysis, Content Analysis, Crime Mapping, and Big Data
Analyzing Secondary Data  
Case Study: Police Protection by Neighborhood  
Comparative Methods  
Case Study: Homicide Across Nations  
Content Analysis  
Case Study: Media Portrayals of Abducted Children  
Crime Mapping  
Case Study: Social Disorganization and the Chicago School  
Case Study: Gang Homicides in St. Louis  
Case Study: Using Google Earth to Track Sexual Offending Recidivism  
Big Data  
Case Study: Predicting Where Crime Will Occur  
Case Study: Predicting Recidivism With Big Data  
Methodological Issues When Using Secondary Data  
Ethical Issues When Analyzing Available Data and Content  
Chapter 11: Evaluation Research
A Brief History of Evaluation Research  
Evaluation Basics  
Questions fo Evaluation Research  
Case Study: Family Justice Center Initiative  
Case Study: Process Evaluation of an Anti-Gang Initiative  
Case Study: How Does the Risk Skills Training Program (RSTP) Compare to D.A.R.E.?  
Case Study: Cost-Benefit Analysis of Therapeutic Communities  
Design Decisions  
Evaluation in Action  
Case Study: Problem-Oriented Policing in Violent Crime Areas—A Randomized Controlled Experiment  
Quasi-Experimental Designs in Evaluation Research  
Case Study: Decreasing Injuries from Police Use-of-Force  
Case Study: Drinking and Homicide in Eastern Europe  
Nonexperimental Designs  
Case Study: Vocational Education for Serious Juvenile Offenders—A One-Shot Design  
Qualitative and Quantitative Methods  
Policy Research: Increasing Demand for Evidence-Based Policy  
Basic Science or Applied Research  
Ethics in Evaluation  
Chapter 12: Mixing and Comparing Methods
What Are Mixed Methods?  
Case Study of Convergent Parallel Design: School Security and Discipline  
Case Study of Exploratory Sequential Design: American Indian Homicide  
Case Study of Embedded Design: Investigating Rape  
Strengths and Limitations of Mixed Methods  
Types of Mixed Methods Designs  
Comparing Results Across Studies  
Case Study of Meta-Analysis: The Effectiveness of Anti-Bullying Programs  
Case Study of Meta-Analysis: Do Parent Training Programs Prevent Child Abuse?  
Case Study of Meta-Synthesis: Female Drug Dealers  
Ethics and Mixed Methods  
Chapter 13: Quantitative Data Analysis
Introducing Statistics  
Case Study: The Causes of Delinquency  
Preparing Data for Analysis  
Displaying Univariate Distributions  
Summarizing Univariate Distributions  
Cross-Tabulating Variables  
Regression and Correlation  
Analyzing Data Ethically: How Not to Lie About Relationships  
Chapter 14: Analyzing Qualitative Data
Features of Qualitative Data Analysis  
Qualitative Compared With Quantitave Data AnalysisAlternatives in Qualitative Data Analysis  
Techniques of Qualitative Data Analysis  
Alternatives in Qualitative Data Analysis  
Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis  
Case Study: Narratives of Desistance from Crime and Substance Abuse  
Ethics in Qualitative Data Analysis  
Chapter 15: Reporting Research Results
Research Report Goals  
Case Study: Seeking Higher Education for Inmates  
On Writing Research  
Research Report Types  
Displaying Research  
Special Considerations for Reporting Qualitative or Mixed-Methods Research  
Ethics, Politics, and Reporting Research  
Appendix A: Questions to Ask About a Research Article
Appendix B: How to Read a Research Article


Student Study Site
SAGE edge for Students provides a personalized approach to help students accomplish their coursework goals in an easy-to-use learning environment.
  • Mobile-friendly eFlashcards strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts.
  • Mobile-friendly practice quizzes allow for independent assessment by students of their mastery of course material.
  • A  customized online action plan includes tips and feedback on progress through the course and materials, which allows students to individualize their learning experience.
  • Learning objectives reinforce the most important material.
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected to support and expand on the concepts presented in each chapter.
  • Interactive exercises are geared toward helping students understand how to read and process research. With questions based on real research examples, students will see how research methods are used in practice.
  • Web exercises facilitate student use of internet resources and responses to critical thinking questions.
  • Web resources provide further exploration of topics, research, and insights.
  • Video and multimedia links appeal to students with different learning styles.
  • SPSS Student Datasets, SPSS Datasets, and Codebooks to be used to answer the SPSS exercises at the end of each chapter
  • Appendices for easy download.
Instructors Resource Site
SAGE edge for Instructors supports teaching by making it easy to integrate quality content and create a rich learning environment for students.
  • Test banks provide a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit any question and/or insert personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • Sample course syllabi for semester and quarter courses provide suggested models for structuring one’s course.
  • Editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides offer complete flexibility for creating a multimedia presentation for the course.
  • A comprehensive list of articles on teaching research methods that offers helpful tips to use as you teach your research methods course.
  • Video and multimedia links appeal to students with different learning styles.
  • Lecture notes summarize key concepts by chapter to ease preparation for lectures and class discussions.
  • Suggested student group projects and mini-projects designed to promote students' in-depth engagement with course material.
  • Interactive exercises are geared toward helping students understand how to read and process research. With questions based on real research examples, students will see how research methods are used in practice.
  • Appendices for easy download.
  • Tables, figures, and exhibits from the printed book available in an easily-downloadable format for use in papers, hand-outs, and presentations.
  • Web exercises facilitate student use of internet resources and responses to critical thinking questions.
  • Web resources provide further exploration of topics, research, and insights.
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected to support and expand on the concepts presented in each chapter.

“This is my primary text and because the book is both comprehensive and accessible I plan to continue to use it.”

Mark G. Harmon
Portland State University

“The clear and concise writing of the material facilitates understanding. Reading this text is not an overwhelming task for my students.”

Margaret Pate
Radford University

“Ample examples of criminal justice research studies”

Eileen M. Ahlin
Penn State Harrisburg

“Most comprehensive research methods textbook in criminal justice and criminology”

S. Hakan Can
Penn State University: Schuylkill Campus

“Making research accessible to students (increasing their confidence)”

Sanjay Marwah
California State University East Bay

“…It is more extensive than the previous books I used…I anticipate that students will find this text easy to understand.”

Raymund E.Narag
Southern Illinois University Carbondale

“Thorough coverage of the topics…extensive use of learning and teaching aids (highlights, exercises and key term descriptions)”

Charles E. Wilson
University of Detroit Mercy

Great textbook. Up to date, relevant, easy for my students to understand, examples are excellent. Can't rate this highly enough.

Ms Allyson Franklin
Social Science , John Jay Clg Of Criminal Just
October 2, 2016

Very thorough and easy for students to follow.

Ms Lindsay E. Leban
Sociology Dept, University Of Florida
July 25, 2016
Key features


  • New real-world research examples engage students with a variety of contemporary topics including the effects of incarceration on employment, the effects of police wearing body cameras on both police and citizen injury, the perceptions of citizens regarding police misconduct, and an investigation into the lives of gang members.  
  • A new chapter on qualitative data analysis summarizes the different techniques using a case study of interviews with drug-involved offenders. Students learn how the qualitative data software program NVivo helps researchers organize and analyze qualitative data.  
  • Updated “Research in the News” boxes feature the latest media stories which have made an impact both on researchers and practitioners in criminal justice and society as a whole.  
  • New “Careers and Research” profiles highlight the relevance of research in today’s job market by demonstrating the use of research methods within a variety of professions.  
  • New end-of-chapter exercise questions refer students to a chapter-specific video posted on the Study Site, in which researchers discuss their experiences with a method presented in that chapter.  
  • New empirical data sets featured on the Study Site give students access to new subsets of data including the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2014 General Social Survey, 2013 Monitoring the Future Data, NCVS lone offender assault data for 1992 through  2013, and a 2012 State level data set with social and crime indicators.  
  • New SPSS and Excel exercises that correspond to the chapter material provide students with extra practice of the research methods being explained.    


  • Real-world criminal justice examples capture student interest and help them better understand contemporary research and its application in their field of study.
  • More tables, graphs, illustrations, and photos than other comparable textbooks make the subject matter more accessible, understandable, and engaging for students.
  • Expansive, up-to-date exercise sets for SPSS used in data analysis help students master the concepts and techniques presented.
  • A chapter on Reporting Research Results (Ch. 13), not found in other texts, provides coverage of the research proposal, research report goals and types, displaying data, and ethics.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 3

Chapter 8

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