When conducting scholarly research, knowing which resources to utilize is oftentimes the biggest hurdle to writing a quality research paper. Many subject areas, including Criminal Justice, have such a depth and breadth of resources to search through that it can seem daunting to pick out the ones that are best suited for your information need. The purpose of this blog is to help demystify the resource selection process for Criminal Justice research in general, and more specifically for Correctional or Prison Administration research. Hopefully, by the end of this blog, you too will be able to pick out the best resources to use while you conduct your research.
A great place to start your research, especially for background information on your topic, is with reference materials. While they probably won’t be prominent resources cited in your paper, reference materials such as subject encyclopedias and dictionaries can be extremely helpful in providing foundation information on a given topic. The following are just a sampling of the reference materials available that cover our topic.
Bosworth, Mary.Encyclopedia of Prisons & Correctional Facilities. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 2005.
Dewey Library / Reference HV 9471 B675 2005
Levinson, David. Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment. Thousand Oaks, Ca.: Sage Publications, 2002.
Dewey Library / Reference HV 6017 E524 2002
Sifakis, Carl. The Encyclopedia of American Prisons. New York: Facts on File, 2003.
Dewey Library / Oversized HV 9471 S54 2003
Similar to reference materials, websites can be a great source of background information on a given topic. There are several quality websites that focus on corrections and administration. One such site is the Corrections Connections Network . In addition to offering current news articles from across the nation, this site also has a searchable archive all the news articles that have been featured on the site from 2000 to present. They also have the past three years of their online magazine, Corrections Connection, readily available to read. Another potential source of information is a series of podcasts posted to the site. Each show features an interview with a prominent member in the field of criminal justice on a unique topic. One of their recent shows featured an interview with Dr. William Sondervan, Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Associate Professor Ben Stevenson, both of the University of Maryland-University College. They discussed how correctional administrators are dealing with the considerable budget cuts that occur in most correctional systems around the country.
If your research is focused on New York State, the New York State Department of Correctional Services should be the first resource consulted. The Department of Correctional Services produces many research reports concerning the inmate population and other aspects of the operations of the Department. These research reports and publications are all available, full-text, through their Research Reports and Publications) Annotated Listing.
They also have the DOCS Newsroom, which is a collection of official press releases issued by DOCS, Fact Sheets that offer summary of key points on timely topics, News Links that contain news and press releases related to DOCS, and DOCS/TODAY, which is their quarterly newsletter.
Once you have a firm grasp on your research topic, a search of the Minerva Catalog will likely be your next source of information. While you can search the catalog using general keyword search terms and likely find some success, a better search strategy would be to search using various subject headings. Every book in the catalog is grouped together via a subject heading. If you can find the subject heading that best categorizes your research topic, the quality of the search results will be far greater as opposed to using a general keyword search. Try using the following subject headings in Minerva:
Prison Administration – United States
Correctional Institutions – United States – Administration
Jails – United States – Administration
Prisons – United States – Officials and Employees
Correctional Personnel – United States
Jails – United States – Management
Corrections – United States – Administration
Correctional Institutions – Personnel Management – United States
If it is articles that you are after, then you will definitely want to conduct your search in the Criminal Justice Periodicals Index database. You can get to this database by searching for it by title in the search box on the Databases and Indexes page, then clicking on its title. CJPI is a subject specific database, meaning that is only indexes journals that pertain to the study of criminal justice. Corrections is one of the several areas of specialization that CJPI focuses on, which makes it a great database to search for articles on correctional and prison administration. A majority of the articles indexed in CJPI range from 1981 to present, with a few articles included that date as far back as the 1970’s. Roughly one third of the journals indexed in CJPI are available full text, ranging from 1988 to present. CJPI is constantly updated on a weekly basis, so you know that you are searching the most recent and up-to-date criminal justice scholarship. For detailed information and a walkthrough on how best to search the CJPI database, please visit the Guide to Criminal Justice Periodicals Index.
For a comprehensive search, please note that we have two other major criminal justice databases, Criminal Justice Abstracts and NCJRS Abstracts Database (both a web version and an easier interface from CSA
If you have any questions or need help with research on a criminal justice topic, please contact Mary Jane Brustman, who is our Bibliographer for Criminal Justice. She can be reached by sending an email to email@example.com or by calling 442-3540.
Blog post created by Matthew Laudicina