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Fundamentals of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Fundamentals of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Fifth Edition

January 2020 | 368 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.

Fundamentals of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice introduces students to the multifaceted subject of research methods and shows them why research is important in the field. This brief version of Ronet D. Bachman and Russell K. Schutt’s best-selling The Practice of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice simplifies complex concepts with real-world research examples found in everyday experiences in the criminology and criminal justice professions. The thoroughly revised Fifth Edition retains its celebrated strengths while breaking new ground with coverage of recently popular research methods and contemporary research findings.

Included with this title:

The password-protected Instructor Resource Site (formally known as SAGE Edge)
offers access to all text-specific resources, including a test bank and editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides. Learn more.

About the Authors
CHAPTER 1 • Science, Society, and Research Related to Criminal Justice and Criminology
What Do We Have in Mind?

Reasoning About the Social World

How the Scientific Approach Is Different

Alternative Research Orientations

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


Key Terms



CHAPTER 2 • The Process and Problems of Research Related to Crime and Criminology
What Do We Have in Mind?

Identifying a Research Question

The Role of Theory

Social Research Strategies

Research Standards


Key Terms



CHAPTER 3 • Ethical Guidelines for Research
What Do We Have in Mind?

Historical Background

Ethical Principles

More on the Institutional Review Board (IRB)

Research Involving Special Populations: Children and Prisoners


Key Terms



CHAPTER 4 • Conceptualization and Measurement
What Do We Have in Mind?


From Concepts to Variables: Measurement Operations

How Will We Know When We’ve Found It?

How Much Information Do We Really Have?

Did We Measure What We Wanted to Measure?

A Comment on Measurement in a Diverse Society


Key Terms



CHAPTER 5 • Sampling
What Do We Have in Mind?

Sample Planning

Sampling Methods

Units of Analysis and Errors in Causal Reasoning


Key Terms



CHAPTER 6 • Causation and Experimentation
What Do We Mean by Causation?

Causal Explanations

Criteria for Nomothetic Causal Explanations

Why Experiment?

What If a True Experiment Isn’t Possible?

What Are the Threats to Internal Validity and Generalizability in Experiments?

The Element of Time in Research

Causality in Nonexperimental Designs

How Do Experimenters Protect Their Subjects?


Key Terms



CHAPTER 7 • Survey Research
Survey Research in Action: Measuring Victimization

What Is a Survey?

Questionnaire Development and Assessment

Writing Survey Questions: More Difficult Than You Think!

Organization Matters

Survey Designs

Ethical Issues in Survey Research


Key Terms



CHAPTER 8 • Qualitative Methods and Data Analysis
What Do We Mean by Qualitative Methods?

Fundamentals of Qualitative Methods

Participant Observation

Systematic Observation

Intensive Interviewing

Focus Groups

Analyzing Qualitative Data

Techniques of Qualitative Data Analysis

Alternatives in Qualitative Data Analysis

Ethical Issues in Qualitative Research

Who Owns the Qualitative Data?


Key Terms



CHAPTER 9 • Analyzing Content and Police Data: Social-Network Analysis, Crime Mapping, Big Data, and Content Analysis
What Do We Have in Mind?

Analyzing Secondary Data

Social-Network Analysis

Crime Mapping

Big Data

Ethical Issues in Using Big Data

Content Analysis

Methodological Issues When Using Secondary Data

Ethical Issues When Analyzing Available Data and Content


Key Terms



CHAPTER 10 • Evaluation and Policy Analysis
What Do We Have in Mind?

A Brief History of Evaluation Research

Evaluation Basics

Questions for Evaluation Research

Design Decisions

Evaluation in Action

Strengths of Randomized Experimental Designs in Impact Evaluations

When Experiments Are Not Feasible

Qualitative and Quantitative Methods

Increasing Demand for Evidence-Based Policy

Ethics in Evaluation


Key Terms



CHAPTER 11 • Mixing and Comparing Methods
What Do We Have in Mind?

What Are Mixed Methods?

Types of Mixed-Methods Designs

Strengths and Limitations of Mixed Methods

Comparing Results Across Studies

Ethics and Mixed Methods


Key Terms



CHAPTER 12 • Summarizing and Reporting Research
What Do We Have in Mind?

Research Report Goals

Types of Research Reports

Curbing the Frustrations of Writing

Displaying Data

Special Considerations for Reporting Quantitative and Qualitative Research

Ethics, Politics, and Reporting Research

Communicating With the Public



Key Terms



Appendix A. Conducting Literature Reviews and Finding Information
Appendix B. How to Read a Research Article
Appendix C. How to Use a Statistical Package: SPSS
Appendix D. How to Use a Qualitative Analysis Package
Appendix E. How to Use a Data Spreadsheet: Excel
Appendix F. Quantitative Data Analysis
Appendix G. Data Sets


Instructor Resource Site

Online resources included with this text

The online resources for your text are available via the password-protected Instructor Resource Site, which offers access to all text-specific resources, including a test bank and editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides.
Student Study Site

The open-access Student Study Site makes it easy for students to maximize their study time, anywhere, anytime. It offers flashcards that strengthen understanding of key terms and concepts, as well as learning objectives that reinforce the most important material.

For additional information, custom options, or to request a personalized walkthrough of these resources, please contact your sales representative.

Fundamentals of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice is full of useful content written in a way students will find understandable and engaging. Students will benefit from the way concepts are explained, highlighted, and used in the examples provided. The text goes beyond just presenting content to engaging students in the learning process while they are reading.”

Ashley Blackburn
University of Houston–Downtown

This book allows for an interactive learning environment even if the classroom is virtual. The key terms allows for easier sorting of the chapters and the chapter summaries simplifies all the information just taken in.”

Shannyn Botsford
Bryant & Stratton College

“This text is an overview of research methods in the criminal justice fields, also pertaining to criminology. It provides a basic foundation of the topics in research methods but then also goes through an in-depth breakdown of each step a researcher would go through conducting their study.”

Dennis Amo
Bryant & Stratton College

I would tell my colleague that they would have to try this book for their research methods course.  Why?—because it is easy for students to read and it is easy to construct a semester-long course around.  Moreover, the clarity of the writing will reduce the amount of students who are confused.  And, the companion websites are excellent. The instructor site provides everything needed for a semester-long class and the student site will help reduce the number of students who come into office hours confused.”

Kevin Beaver
Florida State University

“…the text is the perfect balance of comprehensive and ease of understanding. Also, it relies upon realistic examples and offers many different resources to both professors and students.”

Dena Carson
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

One of the few that include more than a passing glance at qualitative methods, plus options to include research on "Big Data", GIS, and more.

Dr Alexandra Davis
Sociology Dept, Eastern Washington University
April 30, 2021
Key features
  • A new chapter that incorporates intelligence-led policing methods includes a section on social network analysis (SNA), which provides case studies that highlight how it was used to examine the 9/11 terrorist network and how it could be used to investigate crimes.
  • New sections on 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 revised Chapter 1 provides a clear, succinct introduction retains the important discussion of how the scientific method helps to ensure research devoid of everyday errors in reasoning while also highlighting different types of research questions and provides a preview of some of the specific methods that are examined in the text.
  • New sections on recent developments in research methods reflect increased attention to the Internet as an avenue for research and include electronic surveys, a growing reliance on smartphones, the use of social media for social network analysis and other research, and the use of the Internet in qualitative techniques.
  • Updated examples of criminological research as they occur in real-world settings feature contemporary and interesting case studies on a variety of topics, including the effects of police wearing body cameras on both police and citizen injury, predicting burglaries, and more.
  • New chapter-opening quotes give readers insight on students who share the impact that their research methods course has had on them.


  • Increased focus on international research introduces students to the expanded use of research conducted in countries around the world, as well as global issues involving race, ethnicity, gender, and culture.
  • Careers in Research stories in every chapter highlight the career of a criminal justice professional that has used the methods discussed to show students how research impacts a variety of professions.
  • Research in the News sections engage students with recent headlines in the news to illustrate how research informs media stories and the impact research has on researchers and practitioners in criminal justice, as well as society as a whole.
  • Consistent ethics coverage throughout the text promotes research success and integrity.
  • Real-world criminal justice cases illustrate the methods described and help students better understand contemporary research and its application in the field. 
  • Exercises sets include SPSS exercises, Developing a Research Report activities, and Web Research activities.
  • Extensive use of graphics throughout adds simplicity and increases understandability of complex concepts.
  • Includes more coverage of qualitative research and mixed methods than other comparable introductory texts. 

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