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SOC 2600 Introduction to Criminal Justice Studies

Creating a Research Plan

1. Identify a research topic/thesis

  • Does your topic meet the requirements of the assignment;
  • Is your topic possible to complete given the available resources and services?
  • Do you need to broaden or refine your topic? 
  • Old Dominion Idea Generator

2. Identify types and timeliness of information needed

  • The way information is delivered changes over time, by format and sconsiders audience. 

    • Do you need recent content?

    • Original research or industry reports?

    • Personal perspectives like in interviews or newspaper editorials?  

3. Know where to look for your information

  • Knowing what type of information you need helps you identify where to go to find that information. Not all information is found o the same search platform.

    • Library Search for books and articles 

    • Subject Databases for more refined searching

    • Websites and social media platform 


Finding a Topic

1. Use the following questions to help you generate topic ideas:

  • Be original! Is there something about you that makes you unique and is also a good research topic?
  • What is going on in current events? Is there a news story that you would like to research further?
  • Do you have hobbies or interests that you would like to know more about?
  • Career or school related interests?
  • Do you have a strong opinion on a current social or political controversy?
  • Is there an aspect of one of your courses you are interested in learning more about?


2. Browse some of these sources:


3. Make sure it is a manageable topic that can be done in the number of pages you are allotted.  It may be helpful to avoid overused topics as there can be an overwhelmingly amount of information (death penalty, abortion, immigration etc.)

  • Topic is too broad?  You'll find too much information
  • Topic too narrow? You won't find enough information
  • Concept mapping helps you visualize your ideas. explore what you know, what you want to know, and where you want to lead your discussion. 


4. Ask Yourself Questions About Your Topic…

  • What do you already know about your topic?
  • What do you want to know about your topic?
  • What aspects of your topic interest you: historical, sociological, psychological, etc.
  • What time period do you want to cover?
  • On what geographic area do you want to focus?

The Flow of Info

Information does not stay the same. It evolves over time. 

Information evolves overtime and changes in format, content, and quality. When choosing information, consider the flow of information. Are you selecting the best resource available?

Scholarly v.Trade v. Popular Publications

Comparing 3 types of articles
  • How to tell if it is scholarly, trade, or a popular article. 

When doing research, you will come across three main types of articles, Scholarly, Trade, and Popular. There is a time and place for each type of article.   Scholarly: Highly reliable, use freely. Written by scholars for scholars Trade: Use with caution, written by people in the industry for people in the industry  Popular: Avoid, authority and reliability hard to determine.


When doing research, you will come across three main types of articles, Scholarly, Trade, and Popular. There is a time and place for each type of article. 

  1. Scholarly: Highly reliable, use freely. Written by scholars for scholars
  2. Trade: Use with caution, written by people in the industry for people in the industry 
  3. Popular: Avoid, authority and reliability hard to determine. 

List of possible topics for research



  • Cybersecurity
  • E-business
  • Ethics
  • Glass ceiling
  • Online retail
  • Outsourcing
  • Sweatshops
  • White collar crime

Crime and Law

  • Acquaintance rape
  • Animal rights
  • Assisted suicide
  • Campus violence
  • Capital punishment
  • Civil rights
  • Drinking age, legal
  • Drug legalization
  • Gun control
  • Hate crimes
  • Insanity defense
  • Mandatory Minimum sentencing
  • Patriot Act
  • Police brutality
  • Prisons and prisoners
  • Roe vs. Wade
  • Serial killers
  • Sex crimes
  • Sexual harassment
  • Three Strikes Law


Drugs and Drug Abuse

  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine
  • Doping in sports
  • Drug testing
  • Drunk driving
  • Heroin
  • Marijuana
  • Nicotine


  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Charter schools
  • College admission policies
  • College athletes
  • College tuition planning
  • Distance education
  • Diploma mills
  • Education and funding
  • Grade inflation
  • Greek letter societies
  • Hazing
  • Home schooling
  • Intelligence tests
  • Learning disabilities
  • Literacy in America
  • Mascots in Sports (Chief Illiniwek)
  • No Child Left Behind
  • Plagiarism
  • Prayer in schools
  • Sex education
  • School vouchers
  • Standardized tests


  • Acid rain
  • Alternative fuel/hybrid vehicles
  • Conservation
  • Deforestation
  • Endangered species
  • Energy
  • Global warming
  • Greenhouse effect
  • Landfills
  • Marine pollution
  • Nuclear energy
  • Oil spills
  • Pesticides
  • Pollution
  • Population control
  • Radioactive waste disposal
  • Recycling
  • Wildlife conservation

Equity and Social Issues

  • Abortion
  • Adoption
  • Airline safety/security
  • Affirmative Action programs
  • AIDS
  • Apartheid
  • Birth control
  • Child abuse
  • Child rearing
  • Discrimination in education
  • Employee rights
  • Gambling/online gaming
  • Gang identity
  • Gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender
  • Gay parenting
  • Gender discrimination
  • Genetic screening
  • Homelessness
  • Identity theft
  • Interracial marriage
  • Poverty
  • Race relations
  • Reverse discrimination
  • Suffrage
  • Suicide
  • Test biases
  • Textbook biases
  • Welfare

Family issues

  • Battered woman syndrome
  • Child abuse
  • Divorce rates
  • Domestic abuse
  • Family relationships
  • Family values


  • Abortion
  • AIDS
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Alternative medicine
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Artificial insemination
  • Autism
  • Birth control
  • Bulimia
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Dietary supplements
  • Drug abuse
  • Dyslexia
  • Exercise and fitness
  • Fad diets
  • Fast food
  • Heart disease
  • HIV infection
  • In vitro fertilization
  • Medicaid/Medicare reform
  • Obesity
  • Organic foods
  • Prescription drugs
  • Plastic surgery
  • Sleep
  • Smoking
  • Stem cell research
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Vegetarianism/Veganism
  • Weight loss surgery

Media and Communications

  • Body image
  • Censorship
  • Children's programming and advertising
  • Copyright Law
  • Freedom of speech
  • Materialism
  • Media bias
  • Media conglomerates/ownership
  • Minorities in mass media
  • Political correctness
  • Portrayal of women
  • Reality television
  • Stereotypes
  • Talk radio
  • Television violence

Political Issues

  • Affirmative Action
  • Budget deficit
  • Electoral College
  • Election reform
  • Emigration
  • Genocide
  • Illegal aliens
  • Immigration
  • Impeachment
  • International relations
  • Medicaid/Medicare reform
  • Operation Enduring Iraqi Freedom
  • Partisan politics
  • Prescription drugs
  • Social Security Reform
  • Third parties
  • Taxes


  • Child abuse
  • Criminal psychology
  • Depression
  • Dreams
  • Intelligence tests
  • Learning disabilities
  • Memory
  • Physical attraction
  • Schizophrenia

Sexulaity and Gender 

  • Abortion
  • Birth control and Pregnancy
  • Body image
  • Cultural expectations and practices
  • Discrimination
  • Eating disorders
  • Education
  • Feminism
  • Health Access
  • LGBTQ issues
  • Marriage and Divorce
  • Media portrayals
  • Parenting
  • Prostitution
  • Sex and Sexuality
  • Sports
  • Stereotypes
  • Substance abuse
  • Violence and Rape
  • Work discrimination