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The Practice of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice

The Practice of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Seventh Edition

January 2019 | 616 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

The authors are proud sponsors of the 2020 SAGE Keith Roberts Teaching Innovations Award—enabling graduate students and early career faculty to attend the annual ASA pre-conference teaching and learning workshop.

Very practical approach to teaching research methods and very student friendly. This text “breathes life” into the research process. Sherill Morris-Francis, Mississippi Valley State University


The Practice of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice, Seventh Edition demonstrates the vital role research plays in criminology and criminal justice 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 critically evaluate and confidently conduct research.


The Seventh 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. This edition incorporates new topics like intelligence-led policing, social network analysis (SNA), the evolution of cybercrime, and more. 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.


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About the Authors
Chapter 1: Science, Society, and Research Related to Crime, Criminology, and Social Control
Reasoning About the Social World

The Social Science Approach

Alternative Research Orientations

More on the Role of Values in Research

Quantitative and Qualitative Methods

Highlighting a Few Specific Types of Research Methods

Strengths and Limitations of Social Research

A Comment on Research in a Diverse Society


Chapter 2: The Process and Problems of Research Related to Crime and Criminology
Identifying a Research Question

Social Research Foundations

The Role of Theory

Social Research Strategies

Social Research Standards


Chapter 3: Ethical Guidelines for Research
Historical Background

Ethical Principles

The Institutional Review Board

Research Involving Special Populations: Prisoners and Children


Chapter 4: Conceptualization and Measurement

Variables and Levels of Measurement

Did We Measure What We Wanted to Measure?

A Comment on Measurement in a Diverse Society


Chapter 5: Sampling
Sample Planning

Sampling Methods

Sampling Distributions


Chapter 6: Causation and Research Design
Causal Explanations

Criteria and Cautions for Nomothetic Causal Explanations

Research Designs and Causality

Units of Analysis and Errors in Causal Reasoning


Chapter 7: Experimental Designs
History of Experiments

True Experiments


Validity in Experiments

External Events


Treatment Misidentification

Factorial Survey Design

Ethical Issues in Experimental Research


Chapter 8: Survey Research
Survey Research in the Social Sciences

Designing Questionnaires

Writing Survey Questions

Organization of the Questionnaire

The Cover Letter

Survey Designs

Errors in Survey Research

Ethical Issues in Survey Research


Chapter 9: Qualitative Methods: Observing, Participating, and Listening
Fundamentals of Qualitative Methods

Participant Observation

Systematic Observation

Intensive Interviewing

Focus Groups

Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research


Section IV: Topical Research Designs
Chapter 10: Analyzing Content: Research Using Secondary, Historical, and Comparative Data and Content Analysis
Analyzing Secondary Data

Historical and Comparative Methods

Oral History

Historical Process Research

Content Analysis

Methodological Issues When Using Secondary Data

Ethical Issues When Analyzing Available Data and Content


Chapter 11: Social Network Analysis, Crime Mapping, and Big Data
Social Network Analysis

Crime Mapping

Big Data

Ethical Issues When Using Big Data


Chapter 12: Evaluation and Policy Analysis
A Brief History of Evaluation Research

Design Decisions

Evaluation in Action

Quasi-Experimental Designs in Evaluation Research

Nonexperimental Designs

Qualitative and Quantitative Methods

Policy Research: Increasing Demand for Evidence-Based Policy

Basic Science or Applied Research

Ethics in Evaluation


Chapter 13: Mixing and Comparing Methods
What Are Mixed Methods?

Strengths and Limitations of Mixed Methods

Comparing Results Across Studies

Ethics and Mixed Methods


Chapter 14: Analyzing Quantitative Data
Introducing Statistics

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 15: Analyzing Qualitative Data
Features of Qualitative Data Analysis

Qualitative Compared With Quantitative Data Analysis

Techniques of Qualitative Data Analysis

Alternatives in Qualitative Data Analysis

Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis

Ethics in Qualitative Data Analysis


Chapter 16: Summarizing and Reporting Research
Research Report Goals

Writing Is Not Easy!

Research Report Types

Displaying Research

Ethics, Politics, and Reporting Research



Appendix A: Questions to Ask About a Research Article
Appendix B: How to Read a Research Article


Instructor Resource Site

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  • test banks that provide a diverse range of ready-to-use options that save you time. You can also easily edit any question and/or insert your own personalized questions;
  • multimedia content featuring original videos that meet the learning needs of today’s media-savvy students and bring concepts to life;
  • sample course syllabi for semester and quarter courses that provide suggested models for structuring your courses;
  • editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides that offer complete flexibility for creating a multimedia presentation for your course;
  • exclusive access to full-text, influential SAGE journal articles, which have been carefully selected to tie important research and scholarship to chapter concepts; and
  • lecture notes that summarize key concepts by chapter to help you prepare for lectures and class discussions.


Student Study Site

SAGE edge for students enhances learning, it’s easy to use, and offers:

  • an open-access site that makes it easy for students to maximize their study time, anywhere, anytime;
  • eFlashcards that strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts;
  • eQuizzes that allow students to practice and assess how much they’ve learned and where they need to focus their attention;
  • chapter summaries with learning objectives that reinforce the most important material;
  • chapter-specific study questions that allow students to engage with the material;
  • exclusive access to influential SAGE journal and reference content that ties important research and scholarship to chapter concepts to strengthen learning; and
  • exercises and meaningful Web links that facilitate student use of Internet resources, further exploration of topics, and responses to critical thinking questions.

The textbook is straightforward, clear and easy to follow. Even students with minimal knowledge of research methods should be able to follow.”

Mercedes Valadez Ph.D
California State University, Sacramento

I will strongly recommend this text to my colleagues as an undergraduate research method textbook!”

Yongsok Kim
Bemidji State University

Very practical approach to teaching research methods and very student friendly. This text “breathes life” into the research process. The authors took the time to explain all concepts, even ones that would pose a problem for someone new to research.”

Sherill Morris-Francis
Mississippi Valley State University

I won't be teaching this until the summer now. But I plan on reviewing it to use for that semester

Dr Katie Swope
Counseling & Psychology, Carlow University
September 23, 2019

The book seemed appropriate for an undergraduate research methods course. I particularly appreciate all the examples and case studies to make it relevant for the students in the law enforcement class.

Dr Julie Brines
Law Enforcement/Justice Admin, Western Illinois University
September 25, 2019
Key features


  • 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. Students will explore how research has impacted some of the biggest headlines such as the link between mass killings and domestic violence, the impact of violent video games, data on gun violence, and police stops of African American drivers.
  • A new chapter on Social Network Analysis, Crime Mapping, and Big Data (Chapter 11) explores methods for intelligence-led policing.
  • New student quotations contain real stories from students who have taken a research methods course about how the class has helped them in their careers.
  • Emerging topics in research have been added or expanded, such as the role of values in research, the Institutional Review Board, errors in survey research, and qualitative data analysis.
  • Case studies have been updated throughout to focus on challenges currently facing the criminal justice system, such as school shootings, police decision making, the evolution of cybercrime, and networks of terrorist cells.
  • New sections of “research in a diverse society” discuss the importance of making sure our samples, measurements, and methods are inclusive and sensitive to the diverse nature of our society.
  • A discussion of research philosophies has been streamlined and is more integrated in the discussion of different types of methods.


  • "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.  
  • Real-world criminal justice cases and issues illustrate the methods described, capturing student interest and helping them better understand contemporary research and its application in their field of study
  • Expansive, up-to-date exercise sets for SPSS use in data analysis, ethics, and Internet research help students master the concepts and techniques presented.
  • SAGE edge provides students helpful tools, including eFlashcards, practice quizzes, and more, in one easy-to-use online environment.

For instructors

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