Department of Criminal Justice Studies

The Department of Criminal Justice Studies requires all majors to successfully complete CJ 680, the Field Course in Criminal Justice. The centerpiece of CJ 680 is the requirement that students engage in directed field study OR complete an internship. In either case, students are required to complete a series of assignments based either on the field study or internship that are geared toward producing a final paper at the end of the semester.

Regardless of what option is ultimately chosen, all students are expected to draw on the entirety of their education (both formal and informal) to date, with particular emphasis on their classes in criminal justice studies. Students are also expected to complete all assignments in the syllabus as specified.

Your final product should be a thoroughly edited, smartly organized research paper based on the field study or internship. All papers should fit within the general guidelines of a 20-25 page paper. You should expect to have much more information than can fit in a 20-25 paper, and your paper is expected to be the result of a process of narrowing and focusing the object of study to a key thesis supported with ample evidence from the internship or field study and placed within larger debates in the scholarly literature.

Course expectations
1) Whether engaged in field study or an internship, students are required to commit a minimum of 10 hours per week to this course. Directed field and intern activity complement your studies in criminal justice in a manner for which there is no substitute. Students are expected to immerse themselves in the field more so than on campus, in the classroom or in the library.

2) The expectation for this course is that students will engage in a field component. This means that either students will do an internship OR students will create and implement a research project of their own on a topic of their choosing. In the past, students have done a small number of qualitative interviews or questionnaires, but students are encouraged to utilize any and all quantitative and qualitative methodologies. The aim of this project is to supplement the library research that students will do and to gain valuable experience in creating and implementing field research. Pure library research papers will NOT be accepted. If you have any trouble on deciding on a research project, please consult me early in the semester.

3) Students completing the internship will be required to hand-in a field journal. This journal will document the student’s experience in at the internship. Additionally, some students completing field studies will also be required to complete a field journal—particularly if you are doing a study that involves either ethnographic or participant-observation methods. The field journal is intended to be a place where students make notes and observations about their internship or field research throughout the semester. Students should purchase a composition notebook which they carry with them to either their internship or field research. If you wait until you get home to make field notes, you will likely forget lots of valuable data that you observed during the day. Students who do not complete a field journal are required to turn in at the end of the semester copies of all primary research (interview transcriptions, surveys, etc.) and data analysis, including coded transcripts, development of issues and themes, and research notes.


4) Finally, students will be required to write a research paper for the end of the semester which brings together the library research and field research or internship experience, interwoven in a thoughtful analysis on a topic of the students’ choosing. Students who pursue the directed field study option must develop a project that sustains their own interest, reflects their intellectual and/or professional ambitions, and engages them in substantial fieldwork. Substantial fieldwork is defined as that which takes the same amount of time an internship would take to complete—approx. 10 hours/week. Given this rate, students completing a field study should identify their research topic, relevant literature and begin collecting data by the end of February. Students who pursue the internship option may draw on their contacts or seek the help of the instructors to locate an internship opportunity. The final paper should be a minimum of 20 pages and no more 25 pages. The paper must have at least 15 reference sources in the bibliography, at least 8 of which must be from peer reviewed sources.

This class presumes that students are proficient in research methods and have successfully completed the Introductory Research Methods in Criminal Justice (CJ 330) or a methods class in a related academic discipline (particularly Sociology 392, Political Science 492, or Psychology 400).

In addition, this class presumes that students are proficient in writing and have completed all required writing classes or testing before enrollment. Student must have either a passing score on JPET or successful completion of English 414. Students must also have completed the University’s library requirement before taking this course (see
This course does NOT teach students how to complete research nor does it teach students how to write a research paper. You MUST bring these capabilities to the course. It is assumed that you know how to do a proper research paper. Your semester grade will be based on this paper.P(5.u)

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