For this project, you must select an appropriate topic, which has been approved by the professor, from the general area of ethics in criminal justice. A dropbox is provided for you to submit your topic to the professor by the end of Module 6. The professor will advise you of the appropriateness of the topic. The completed project must be submitted by the end of Module 8.
Project 2 is a literature review. A literature review is not just a recitation of several articles relating to a topic of interest. Rather, it is a synopsis of what is known about the subject area you have chosen. You are expected to read either abstracts of articles or original sources for information relating to this literature review. A minimum number of twenty (20) sources would be considered acceptable. This doesn’t mean that you should read 20 articles or books in their entirety. Rather, you should consult at least 20 sources for information related to your literature review. For instance, you may be interested in racial profiling and the extent to which is raises ethical issues about the conduct of police officers who engage in that practice. Why is racial profiling an ethical issue? Is it lawful or unlawful? Can it be regulated by enacting departmental policies? How can police officers be controlled so as not to engage in racial profiling? What are some of the consequences of racial profiling for minorities and others who might be targeted by police? Another topic might be prosecutorial misconduct. A prosecutor may be prosecuting a defendant who happens to be a former contender for the prosecutor position in the community. While evidence exists that the defendant has committed some crime, the current prosecutor discovers some evidence that shows the defendant’s innocence, but she withholds that evidence. This is prosecutorial misconduct and violates a fundamental evidence principle known as “discovery.”What are various forms of prosecutorial misconduct? How can prosecutorial misconduct be regulated or minimized or eliminated?
These are two of hundreds of ethical issues and topics that can be used as the basis for a literature review.
Select a topic of interest, usually something you have read about in the text for this course, and develop an outline for how you might frame this literature review.
The literature review will have an introduction and a conclusion. You must clearly state the topic of your paper in the introduction and indicate its importance and relevance. The introduction should capture the reader’s interest. One way of doing this is to state the paper’s goals. You intend to present information about topic X that will illustrate the prevalence of the problem, how citizens have been affected or impacted by it, and some of the proposals various professionals and others have advanced for how the problem can be resolved. Not everyone agrees on the same solution to the same problem. Different problem solutions should be cited, therefore. By the same token, the conclusion should summarize the main findings of your paper. This should also include any final criticisms you may have of the research studies you have selected to use in your literature review.
The body of your literature review should discuss what is known about the subject you have chosen as your paper topic. What does the literature say about racial profiling or prosecutorial misconduct, for instance? You should discuss the substance of the different articles you read, and their relevance for the topic. Is there agreement among these articles about the topic, or is there lack of agreement? Many articles have contrasting views about the topic, and this makes for an interesting discussion as you discuss these and present their major findings in an organized fashion. What do the articles tell you generally about the topic and your particular literature review goals? The substance of your paper should indicate whether there is a clear problem stated. Be sure your paper is not too broad. Stay on the topic you have selected.
The substance of the paper should consist of two parts: (1) published research findings, and (2) your analysis and interpretation of these findings. Do not simply summarize each article. Rather, extract the important points made and tie them together with other articles that share the same views. If you find a set of articles that have contrasting views, then group them accordingly and discuss their major points. Highlight these differences for an interesting discussion of research findings. Be very thorough. Don’t just agree with what different authors say. You are at liberty to take issue or disagree with their viewpoints, giving your own interpretation at critical points. Your summary of what has been presented will be your own criticisms of what has been presented anyway.
You are encouraged to use the resources of the Excelsior library and/or the Internet, the “information highway,” as places to look for articles pertaining to the subject. You can use newspaper articles, research articles in journals, many of which are available online for your perusal, and any other sources. If you live near a library, you can examine research articles directly; although your paper can be written totally from materials accessed online.
Below is a general discussion of paper preparation that you may find useful for compiling your literature review.
Reviews of the Literature.
A literature review is designed to familiarize persons with any relevant information pertaining to the topic being studied. Opinions vary concerning the extent to which a literature review should be conducted. Some persons may be concerned with identifying all available literature on a given subject, whereas others are content to review literature in major professional journals for the most recent ten-year period. It is usually not necessary to discuss all relevant and available literature available to you. A positive feature of a literature review is to highlight representative ideas from current articles and books on the subject investigated. For instance, if there are 1,000 articles on a particular topic that reflect varying and opposing points of view, investigators may select 20 or 30 of them that seem to represent the major viewpoints and conflicting opinions and/or findings.
The question of how many articles should be included in a literature review is difficult to answer in quantitative terms. If the research topic is relatively new, it is likely that little or no information exists in the available literature that bears directly on the subject. Researchers may be forced to cite available literature that is only remotely connected to the topic under investigation. For example, in the 1950s, little, if anything, was known about the impact of electronic data processing systems on school structure and administration. However, there were articles in existence that examined the impact of electronic data processing systems in petroleum refineries and airlines reservations offices. If you elected to study this automation form and its impact of school systems, you would include in your literature review only information which was indirectly relevant to this chosen topic. Any pioneering effort (a research project delving into previously unexplored social/psychological/criminal justice/criminology areas) is subject to this significant limitation. On the other hand, if there is an abundance of material on a given topic, it is up you to determine how many articles will be selected for a representative review. There are no clear-cut standards to dictate how many articles should be reviewed. Again, the matter of how many articles or research studies are considered reasonable. Reviewing too many articles may be regarded by some persons as too much or overkill. Others may consider a particular literature review to be too inadequate, even if 50 articles are reviewed. It depends. Guidelines suggested earlier (approximately 20 articles/research reports/documents should be adequate. When you feel comfortable with the articles you have reviewed, this subjective criterion will usually be fine.
Footnoting and referencing in literature reviews can be handled quickly and easily by following certain conventional procedures established by such professional associations as The American Psychological Association. Although several footnoting and referencing styles exist, some are much simpler to follow than the others. For instance, “Smith (2004:222-224) indicates that…” is considerably less awkward than “James R. Smith, Problems of the Inner City, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, New York, NY, 2003, pps. 222-224, indicates that… Another style of footnoting is “Smith (15) says that… In the first footnoting case [Smith (2004:222-224)], a list of references is compiled and placed at the end of the proposal. The entire reference to Smith’s work is included there. The second instance [Smith (15)] is indicative of a referencing system that numbers the authors alphabetically. Smith (15) means that this work is the fifteenth in the list of references included at the end of the proposal. This is not an especially desirable footnoting style, however. What if researchers want to add one or two more references to their list of references? Then they will have to renumber all references and make those renumbering changes throughout the entire proposal. The first footnoting style is preferred because of its simplicity. Multiple articles or writings by a single author in the same year are also handled easily. What if Smith has written three articles from which you have quoted? These can be cited as Smith (2004a), Smith (2004b), and Smith, (2004c).
The literature review should have an effective summary, highlighting the important findings that bear directly upon the problem to be studied. This helps the reader to understand the relationships between the various articles presented. Of course, it is assumed that the researcher has presented the articles reviewed in a coherent fashion and has woven them together meaningfully in the main presentation. A summary following their presentation will be of great assistance and value to readers as well as to the researcher.
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