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Criminal Justice: Get Started

A guide to Criminal Justice resources and library research.

Finding topic ideas

For topic ideas try looking at:

Relevant current events (see related news feeds on Home page of this guide)

Class discussions or readings

Presentations at relevant conferences

Articles in discipline related journals or trade publications

TOOLS for Getting Started

Assignment Calculators/Planners & Understanding Your Assignment

wall of post it notes

Image from Giorgio Montersino via Flickr

Concept (or Mind) Mapping Tools

concept map example


Gather Reliable Background Info


                          Policing in America cover    Encyclopedia of Juvenile Justice cover   

The following electronic resources are useful for getting background information on topics of interest and keywords to use in your search for scholarly articles.


CQ Researcher 

Browse by topic or conduct a "Quick search" for a broad term.  The results should give you related issues to consider focusing your research on, and you can link to reports on these issues that include overviews, outlook, chronology, maps/graphs, etc.

Gale Virtual Reference Library

Included in its "Social Science" and "Law" sections, this database provides us with the Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice; Terrorism: Essential Primary Sources; Policing in America; World Encyclopedia of Police Forces and Correctional Systems; The U.S. Justice System: An Encyclopedia; West's Encyclopedia of American Law.

Oxford Reference Online

Provides the following reference resources: The Oxford Companion to American Law; A Dictionary of Law Enforcement; The Oxford Dictionary of Law; The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States; The Oxford Guide to United States Supreme Court Decisions; Dictionary of the Social Sciences.  Click on "Subjects & Books" for a complete listing. 

Opposing Viewpoints in Context

Featuring viewpoint articles, topic overviews, full-text magazine, academic journal, and newspaper articles, primary source documents, statistics, images and podcasts, and links to Websites on hot social issues.

Sage Reference Online

Includes the following reference titles:Encyc of Activism & Social Justice; Encyc of Community Corrections; Encyc of Crime & Punishment; 21st Century Criminology Ref Handbook; Encyc of Interpersonal Violence; Encyc of Juvenile Justice; Encyc of Law & Society; Encyc of Law Enforcement; Encyc of Murder & Violent Crime; Encyc of Prisons & Correctional Facilities; Encyclopedia of Psychology & Law; Encyc of Race & Crime; and more!



Encyclopedia of Criminological Theory an ebook available via the library catalog. Examines all the key theories and theorists behind them, presenting them in the context needed to understand their strengths and weaknesses.  (2010)