Identify the theory and the theorist(s). Next, discuss the origins of the theory you chose (e.g., historical events, earlier theories that influenced its development, background of the theorist(s) that influenced its development).



CRJ 560 Criminological Theory

Research Paper Assignment



In order to allow you to demonstrate your grasp of theory and the applicability of theory to policy and future research, each of you will draft a 7-9 page research paper. The other purpose is for you to have the opportunity to engage with a theoretical perspective of interest to you in more detail. Finally, this project serves to advance your research, analytical, and writing skills.  There are five components to the assignment. Discuss the points below in the order listed, and separate the sections using headings. You must pick a theory for which there is significant research testing it, or you will not be able to complete the assignment. Quotes are restricted in your paper to one short quote per page, i.e. four lines. Any quote included must only be something that is suitable to quoting.  When explaining concepts, you must paraphrase, as I need to ensure that you understand the material.


Be mindful of your audience. It is not me. Your audience might be policy makers or supervisors in a criminal justice agency or advocates who work with offenders to help them in their rehabilitation.

1.      Introduction: Identify the theory and the theorist(s). Next, discuss the origins of the theory you chose (e.g., historical events, earlier theories that influenced its development, background of the theorist(s) that influenced its development).  The information in this section means that you must pick a single theory (not a theoretical school) and that includes identifying the theorist(s). You cannot say that you focused on control theory when there is more than one control theory. Whose control theory is your focus, and what is the name of that theory?


2.      Theoretical Provisions: Discuss the causal arguments of the theory you chose (i.e. what are the provisions used to explain crime?).


3.      Theoretical Testing: Describe and analyze the empirical/scholarly/peer-reviewed studies that researchers used to test the causal arguments of your theory, and discuss your responses to the following questions. The bulk of your sources should be tests of your chosen theory, such that they allow you to address this section. All of those sources must be addressed in this section in a literature review format rather than a discussion of each source individually.

a.       What types of offenses did researchers testing your chosen theory examine?

b.      What conclusions did the authors draw about the ability of your chosen theory to explain, in whole or in part, the types of offenses examined? Specifically, did they find the theory offered a viable explanation for the commission of these offenses, or did they find the theory was ineffective in explaining the commission of these offenses?

c.       What was the basis of the conclusions that the researchers drew?

d.      What limitations did the researchers note about their studies, and what did you find to be limitations?

e.       Based on your assessment of the studies testing your chosen theory, how valuable do you find your chosen theory for explaining crime generally, a specific category of crime (e.g., violent/personal) or a specific type of crime (e.g., terrorism, robbery, murder, theft)?


4.      Future Research: Based on the points you raised in the second content area, address what you see as general issues that future research needs to examine.  Address the following questions in doing so.

a.       What offense(s) would you study if you conducted a study testing this theory? Consider what you noted in section 3e.

b.      What would you hypothesize about the offense(s) given the provisions of your chosen theory?


5.      Conclusion: Summarize the main points and then discuss at least one policy recommendation that you would advocate to address the offense(s) you discussed in section 3e. Remember that you must ground the recommendation(s) in the provisions of your chosen theory.  


You need to use a minimum of eight sources. Preferably, all of the sources should involve a test of your chosen theory, but at minimum, six of the sources must be a test of the theory. If you cannot find that many sources for your paper that meet that requirement, then you need to pick a new theory that allows you to meet this requirement. You should obtain academic research articles like those assigned for the course and if the theorists wrote a book solely on the theory, you can use that book in your research [e.g. Travis Hirschi’s Causes of Crime; Steven Messner and Richard Rosenfeld’s Crime and the American Dream; John Braithwaite’s Reintegrative Shaming].  No textbook is an acceptable source.  All in-text citations and reference list citations, as usual must be in APA format.  Use the library website to find appropriate sources. Sources must be from 2000-the present unless a source is a landmark document. Check with me if you are unsure about whether you have a landmark source.

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