Dan Lett CRIM 1100
Research proposal guide
Final paper description (for reference)
Students will write a six-page research paper on a crime-related problem of their choice. The
assignment tests students’ ability to apply criminological concepts and theories to real-life issues
in a critical manner. You are free to use any concepts from the class for your study. Detailed
requirements for the research paper will be covered in class after Quiz #1.
The proposal is designed to prepare you to write your final paper. Things you need to do
in your proposal:
• Identify a crime topic that interests you — this can be anything from new laws,
emerging crime trends, new classifications of crimes, racial inequalities in sentencing,
the political significance of the media preoccupation with sensationalist crimes,
depictions of crime in popular culture (video games etc).
• You should identify a problem that you wish to study about your topic. For example, if
you are interested in bill C-51, you might identify “the erosion of rights of suspects” as
your problem. If you are interested in the way DNA is used to explain why people
commit crimes, you might identify “the return of biological theories of criminality” as a
problem to study. Maybe you are tired of arguments that violent video games make
children more violent, and wish to refute this using some real research findings.
• Concisely (4-8 sentences) describe exactly what the topic is, what the problem
is, and why it is an issue
• Identify data sources — you are studying a crime problem, so you need to get
information about what it is and why it is a problem. If you are skeptical about the
falling crime rate in Canada, the methodologies and results of the GSS and the CSI
would be reasonable data sources. If you are concerned with prisoners’ conditions in
Canadian jails, you might identify some personal testimonies or studies of prisoners’
conditions. If your problem is the “negative depiction of X population as criminals/
deviants in the media”, then you might identify specific media stories that demonize
your population of choice.
• Indicate your argument (2-5 sentences) — your paper is applying criminological
concepts to make some kind of argument about your topic. You need to identify what
you are hoping to argue. For example, you might be arguing that C-51 is likely to
make terrorism more likely; or perhaps you intend to argue that violent video games
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