Research Process, Terminology and Criminal Justice

A research process is a study based on scientific survey backed by a logic explanation of cause and reaction. In any research, there has to be an initial assumption of the possible occurrences. These assumptions in research are referred to hypothesis. After formulating an assumption or a hypothesis, the researcher narrows down his or her task into proving or disapproving it. Collecting, organizing and interpreting researched data are referred to statistics (Bennett, et al., 2003). According to Bennett et al. (2003) statistics helps a researcher to make valid and reliable decision based on knowledge of a particular subject.

Criminology is open to a variety of research methods depending on the subject of the study. However, it is very important for a researcher to keep in mind the four categories of research no matter what kind of method they may choose to use. These categories of research are descriptive research, exploratory research, explanatory research and evaluative research. In descriptive research, a researcher defines and describes a social phenomenon with respect to the subject of the study (Hagan, 2010). According to the description of Hagan (2010), exploratory research is more concerned in the meaning behind an action as opposed to explanatory research which describes the cause and effects of an action. Evaluation determines the effects of interference from individual’s actions (Hagan, 2010).

Criminology and criminal justice researches will in essence be more yielding if qualitative and quantitative methodologies are combined. Criminology is a study of human behavior as well as factors that influence or lead to criminal activities. There are human behaviors and character that greatly influence on a person’s mental stability, hence there is a personal response to natural occurrences. Criminology by extension also deals with the impacts or effects of criminal activities to the society and how this influences the society. As a social science, criminology is split into two approaches. The first approach is the classicistic approach and the second category is the positivist approach.

Positivist approach of criminal study is based on the argument that a person loses their mental control due to any reason. This causes them to be destabilized and hence vulnerable to commit crimes since they are not in complete control of their thoughts. However, the classicistic approach differs on this argument by maintaining that every individual has the ability and the rationale to make decisions. This approach disputes the notion that a person can lose their ability to make decisions under any circumstance. The two approaches are distinct with almost equally valid backing explanation, hence the need for both qualitative and quantitative methods of research must be employed.

Every action that leads to a crime is a decision made either out of rage and haste or deliberately committed as a criminal offense. However, in both approaches, one thing is common. Despite the distinct philosophy, the two approaches are similar in the fact that in both there is a psychological effect that leads to crime. Crime does not just happen without a cause. It is fuelled and driven by particular forces which I have mentioned earlier as factors influencing criminal activities. The causes of criminal activities can be established if a study of a criminal’s behavior is done before and after the crime is committed. The study a criminal’s behavior provides explanation before the crime gives an insight on the causes of criminal activities while the post crime study offers the effects of the crime itself.

Criminology as a science involves a number of terminologies as it is synonymous to any social and scientific study. It is of paramount importance for a researcher to know and be able to understand such research terminologies in order to be effective in conducting a research. While making a research on criminology, a researcher needs to have a plan on how to go about it (Dantzker & Hunter, 2000). There are procedures to follow while undertaking a research. The first thing to do is to know the purpose of the research by defining what, why and how the research should be done. At this point a researcher formulates the hypothesis to help and give a sense of direction in the research.

The research language is very crucial not only for criminology researches but also for any form of research. In this respect, a researcher should decide the design or method of doing the research. As suggested earlier, in such a broad and sensitive area of that study as criminology is, it would be more conclusive if both quantitative and qualitative methods are used. After deciding which research method should be used, another question arises: which data collection methods will be used in the research? This can be achieved through constructing a questionnaire or sampling depending on the subject matter. After collecting data, an analysis must be taken which is also referred to a data processing. Data processing is basic process of converting data into meaningful and useful information.

All of these distinct stages are very vital for a research process to be successful and viable. Field work information and data analysis give a reply regarding which approaches of the paper work will show more accuracy. Knowledge on the right terminologies used in criminology is of a great importance (Dantzker & Hunter, 2000). Some of the words used in the general corporate world may mean totally different when it comes to criminology and hence caution must be emphasized while using unfamiliar vocabulary. Being unable to understand the meaning of the words, like quantitative and qualitative analysis, can be tragic for a person who pursues a career in criminology. Due to the nature of this career, research and field work are inevitable. Being a social study of the human character and cause of reaction, the research in this field is the order of the day. Legitimate results can only be reached with the help of a comprehensive research obeying the rules and regulations set for a legitimate research.

As pointed out throughout this paper, all processes of research and acceptable procedures to conduct a research are important to be followed in order to ensure quality and comprehensive work (Dantzker& Hunter, 2000). The concepts of conducting a research are well described above and a few terminologies with respect to researching processes are also mentioned. It is clearly implied throughout the paper how tragic it can get if knowledge on some of the key researching concepts is overlooked. I agree with the author when he asserts that human behavior can be monitored in any circumstances. However, I still believe that the mind can be disoriented and thereby the act of crimes can be committed without individual’s control. The disparity in this case is that it is almost impossible to tell the difference between intended act of crime and unintentional one. This notwithstanding, it is obvious that more often than not the positivist approach is less exercised.


Bennett, J. O., Briggs, W. L., & Triola, M. F. (2009). Statistical reasoning for everyday life (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson/Addison Wesley.

Dantzker, M., L &Hunter, R., D. (2000).Research Methods for Criminology and Criminal Justice: A Primer. Woburn, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Hagan, F. E. (2010). Research methods in criminal justice and criminology (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice.