This guide is a short introduction to print and electronic resources in criminology. It contains information about resources available at Hofstra University as well as some links and information for resources on the Internet.
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Library 160: Introduction to College Level Research
This is an open access textbook on how to do research using library resources. It is produced and published in 2021 by scholars at Iowa State University.
Proquest Criminal Justice: This will be the major database for students in criminology and criminal justice courses.
Annual Reviews: With the information from the various encyclopedia entries go to Annual Reviews in Sociology (online database Annual Reviews) and try to find a recent annual review of scholarly literature in your area. You now know search terms and the names of major scholars so search under both. You may get new search terms out of Annual Reviews. For instance “gender” and “inequality” may turn up as terms to use along with “women” and “academic achievement.” Using Annual Reviews, however, only works if recent reviews have been written on your topic. It probably will not be the case if your topic is very narrow. Lengthy review articles tend to be written on broad topics. It may also not be the case if the topic is so cutting-edge that little sociological literature has been written on it, or, conversely, is so out-of-date that very little is being written on it lately. If the topic is more likely to be treated in another type of Annual Review (for example, Political Science, Psychology or Economics) you may want to check those reviews.
Sociological Abstracts: This database is specific to sociology and up-to-date. Do various searches on the terms and authors you have determined are central to your specific topic or questions. Look at the articles if possible and their bibliographies. One thing to ask yourself is, do these “fit together” in some sense, are they “talking to each other”, do they disagree with each other, cite each other or at least address the same or similar topics. Do they engage, speak to, disagree with, the ideas in the core articles in your topic you have found in earlier steps? If you can find a set of recent articles that do this you have begun to find a focus of discussion and this would be a place to start empirical research, i.e. thinking about how to collect data to prove or disprove the ideas/theories/hypotheses being debated in this set of articles.
Proquest Sociology. This is a smaller database than Sociological Abstracts but is surprisingly useful. It contains full-text and although it is described as "international" it appears to be more weighted toward U.S. issues. It is also good for social psychological topics.
PAIS, another Proquest database, may contain policy and political science articles not in the other Proquest databases.
PsychINFO, a psychology database, picked up by OneSearch, would contain some articles on forensic psychology.
JSTOR is always a good source. The vast majority of articles there are peer-reviewed and of high quality. You may have to set very strict limitors on the search since this database is so large and diverse. Select Sociology and/or closely related disciplines and set a date range to have the most efficient search. You can always broaden the search if you have set your restrictions too tightly.
Using Google Scholar: Google Scholar can be accesse from the Web. When used at Hofstra University or after logging on via MyHofstra it may allow you to use Journal Finder links to locate articles in some of our databases. Google Scholar defines scholarship to include items many professors would not accept for research papers. (It includes published and non-published papers, peer reviewed and non-peer reviewed papers, reports, studies from research institutes and non-profits.) On the other hand, it is quick, broad, and allows you to find information that is not from the, often "Western-dominated", sociological literature. I would suggest using only in consultation with your professor.
When researching modify your topic if necessary. Use synonyms. Try different databases. All of the above may help you to focus, narrow or otherwise modify your topic. That’s fine, topics emerge out of the matrix of the discipline’s previous work and a sophisticated topic in sociology or criminology reflects previous questions in the field. Digest the information you have gotten and try to identify, if possible, a list of up-to-date questions that are still be debated in the area. Once you have identified these and know something of where they “sit” in the literature you are now prepared to look for up-to-date articles.
Judgment, creativity and intuition should guide your research and in attempts to locate or create important questions, making linkages between various approaches and ideas and formulating hypotheses.
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