Relationship between theory and research in criminology

Criminology is the intersection of theory, research, and practice. The first writing assignment focuses on the relationship between theory and research. The goal of this assignment is to demonstrate how research is used to support or refute the theory.

The first step is to choose a theory. At this point we have not discussed the full range of theories, so where is a list of possible choices.

Rational choice
Routine activities (either micro or macro level)
Differential association
Social learning
Social structure-social learning
Techniques of neutralization
Social control/bonding
Control balance
General strain theory
Institutional anomie
Reintegrative shaming
You are also free to choose a theory not mentioned on this list, but please get it approved first.

With theory in hand, the second step is to find three articles that test your chosen theory. These must be articles that present empirical data, operationalize the concepts from the theory, and compare the empirical results to theoretical expectations. You cannot choose articles that summarize large swaths of research (literature reviews), or secondary sources (textbooks, readers, or websites).

You cannot use the articles from the text. They must be articles you find on google scholar or Academic Search Complete. Google Scholar is an excellent resource for this exercise (as a search engine of academic literature). Most articles can be obtained when on-campus or off-campus when using the remote login. Do not pay money for an article.

Step three: Read the articles. Understand the research questions, methods (sample and variables), results, and implications.

Step four: Write. Each paper should have three specific sections. This should end up about 4-5 pages.

Explain your chosen theory. Note all concepts, how they are related to one another, and how they are related to crime.
Summarize each article. What were the research questions? How did they go about answering the questions? And what were the results?
Generalize the results to make statements about the empirical validity of the theory. To what extent is the theory supported by the research that you reviewed?

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