Spring 2022

A note about this syllabus:

Many students fail to read the syllabus, even though it provides all the information that a student will need for the class and it serves as a de facto contract in which the faculty member sets out the class requirements and the student agrees to abide by them if they remain in the class. Please make sure you read this syllabus from start to finish before the drop/add period ends. You are expected to consult with it for scheduling of topics, assignments, etc. throughout the semester as well.

Course Overview

This course entails completion of a capstone project. The project will involve conducting an empirical research study, and presenting the findings verbally as well as in a scholarly paper.

Educational Goals and Expected Learning Outcomes

After taking this course students should be able to:

– Understand, interpret, and evaluate the validity of published research studies in the social sciences.
– Write effectively as scholars in the social sciences.
– Speak effectively as scholars in the social sciences.
– Write as experts on the topic of criminal justice and/or criminology that they have selected for their Proseminar projects.
– Speak as experts on the topic of criminal justice and/or criminology that they have selected for their Proseminar projects.

Student Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to demonstrate the following skills in specific ways:

– Content competence: Students are expected to read, understand, and apply principles of scholarly research. Understanding of these concepts will be evaluated in the development and completion of their Proseminar research projects.
– Critical thinking skills: Students will be required to think critically and utilize analytical skills throughout the course of the semester in the development and completion of their Proseminar research projects.
– Communication skills: Students will be required to demonstrate proficiency in oral and written communication through meeting discussions, the final Proseminar paper and presentation.
– Information literacy: Students will engage in online and print research to access peer- reviewed, scholarly sources that will increase their ability to acquire pertinent information and data. This will be evaluated through assignments and development and completion of the final Proseminar paper.
– Ethical development: Students will be expected to engage in the process of scholarly research with integrity and honesty. This will be evaluated in the data collection methods used for the final Proseminar research paper as well as student adherence to use of American Psychological Association (APA) formatting and citations in their papers.

Performance Requirements
Because this is a required class, all students must earn a grade of “B” or above in this course. Please note that a “B-” will not suffice, nor will an incomplete/no-grade.

Other Guidelines
• Lectures may not be video- or audio-recorded without prior consent from the instructor.
• Plagiarism will not be tolerated.
• Laptops are not permitted for use in the classroom without prior permission from the instructor. All in class notes should be recorded using pen/pencil and a paper notebook.
• All phones should be silenced or set to vibrate prior to the beginning of class. Use of cell phones during class is not permitted. I reserve the right to take cell phones or other electronic devices that are causing a disturbance in class.
• Students who continually disrupt class through any form of distracting behavior (including cell phone use, private discussions, sleeping, etc.) may be asked to leave the classroom.

Other General Information

Code of Conduct
The Department of Criminal Justice requires all students to possess the highest, most impeccable standards of honesty and integrity. Criminal Justice professionals, in particular, must be exemplary role models in society. Students are expected to conduct themselves at all times in a manner which reflects the highest standards of ethical behavior, and which complements the Department and the discipline.

Academic Integrity Policy
The Department of Criminal Justice regards incidents of academic dishonesty (including, but not limited to, cheating and plagiarism*) to be violations of the Department Code of Conduct as well as violations of the University Academic Integrity Policy. Students who engage in behavior constituting academic dishonesty will be penalized. Penalties may include failing the assignment, failing the course, and/or removal from the major. In addition, incidents of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean, as required by University policy. A second offense will result in a hearing before the University’s Academic Integrity Board where additional penalties may be imposed.

*“Plagiarism occurs when the writer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common knowledge) material without acknowledging its source” (Writing Program Administrators, 2003). Plagiarism is considered a form of academic dishonesty, and includes the sale or purchase of term or research papers, providing false or misleading information, or altering or falsifying academic records.

***For questions regarding Academic Dishonesty, the No-Grade Policy, Sexual Harassment, or the Student Code of Conduct, students are encouraged to refer to their major department’s handbook, the Undergraduate Course Catalogue, the Rams Eye View, or Graduate Course Catalogue, and the University Web Site. Please understand that improper conduct in any of these areas will not be tolerated and may result in immediate ejection from the class.***


Graded material for this class will include participation in meetings throughout the semester, the final Proseminar research paper and presentation. Grading will be weighted as follows:

Proseminar Meetings 25%
Final Proseminar Paper 60%
Final Proseminar Presentation 15%

Final grades will serve as a measure of students’ overall performance and will be assigned based on the following scale:

A 93 – 100% D+ 67 – 69.9%
A- 90 – 92.9 % D 63 – 66.9%
B+ 87 – 89.9% D- 60 – 62.9%
B 83 – 86.9% F 59.9% and below
B- 80 – 82.9%
C+ 77 – 79.9%
C 73 – 76.9%
C- 70 – 72.9 %

Please note that in fairness to the entire class, I do not give extra credit assignments. It is your job to exhibit mastery of the subject in the exams and assignments that are administered to the entire class.

Proseminar Meetings

You will be required to meet with me in person or via Zoom once every two weeks at a time that is convenient for both of us to discuss progress on your data collection, data analysis, and writing of your data/methods, results, and conclusion sections. These meetings will be integral to the success of completing your research and the Proseminar paper by May. If you would prefer to meet more frequently than once every two weeks, I am happy to accommodate that.

The Proseminar Paper

Based on the final research proposal that you completed for CRJ 508, you are to engage in data collection, data analysis, and a final research paper presenting your findings. This paper should be a rather extensive study (of your selected phenomenon within criminal justice and/or criminology) and should be a paper that could potentially be published in a scholarly journal. The final paper should include:

I. Introduction*

Here, you should discuss your topic of study, why it is important in the justice field and what your study will contribute to our broader knowledge in the field of criminal justice/criminology.

II. Literature review*

This is a comprehensive and exhaustive review of published research that has already been conducted regarding your topic of study. In this section, you should link your particular area of focus to this existing research. How are you expanding on our knowledge? How does your study fit into these existing studies?

III. Research Methods*

This section should include identification and discussion of the hypotheses and/or research questions guiding your study, your sample and/or data source, and your intended analytical strategy.

IV. Results/Findings

This section should include the results of your analysis, what these results mean for your topic of study, and how they relate to your hypotheses and/or research questions.

V. Conclusions

This section should include the implications of your findings for policy, crime theory, and additional research. Limitations to your study (in terms of errors in implementation, issues of validity, reliability, and generalizability) should also be discussed here.

Additional information regarding format and expectations for this paper will be discussed in some detail during the first class meeting.

Additional requirements:
The paper should be written in using proper American Psychological Association (APA) format. We will be discussing proper citations in class. Grammar, spelling, and proper use of APA formatting will all count towards both the draft and final paper grades.

The paper must include at least 10 outside sources. The use of empirical research that has been published in scholarly journals is expected. Other valid sources may be used (please note that Wikipedia and other online encyclopedias are NEVER a valid source for academic papers).

There is no hard page requirement for this assignment, but most papers I see are usually between 30 and 40 pages in length. I have seen some 20-page papers that are fantastic and some 50 – 60 page papers that are not so fantastic, so use your judgement about when you are finished. We will talk about a page number you should target in greater detail in our individual meetings throughout the semester.

* Sections I-III should already have been completed in your CRJ 508 proposals. It is likely that you will make some revisions, particularly to your methods section, for the Proseminar paper.

Presentation of the Proseminar Paper

Near the end of the semester, you will be required to make a brief (10-15 minute) presentation of your paper to the Proseminar class, highlighting aspects of the paper described above. This presentation should mimic the type of presentation that one would make at an academic conference, like the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology. We will talk about these presentations and what will be appropriate for presentation of your specific research study during our meetings throughout the semester. Use of PowerPoint, Prezi, Canva, or some other visual presentation software is highly recommended.


Required Textbook
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (any edition is fine).

Other Required Readings
As mentioned above, articles will be assigned on a regular basis to supplement the textbook. These articles will be available on D2L. It is the responsibility of the student to access these supplementary materials and ensure that they have read them prior to class.

Recommended Reading
Maxfield, M. & Babbie, E. (2011). Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology (Sixth Edition). Wadsworth/Cengage Learning (ISBN: 978-0495-81169-5).

As many published research studies as you can get your hands on!

Schedule (subject to change)

Date Topic
TBD – based on Doodle poll outcome

Review of Syllabus

Course Introduction and Outline of Expectations

TBD – based on Doodle poll outcome Paper Presentations