Research Methods in Crime and Justice (Paperback) book cover

Research Methods in Crime and Justice

By Brian L. Withrow

© 2014 – Routledge

422 pages

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Paperback: 9780415884433
pub: 2013-08-15
Hardback: 9780415884365
pub: 2013-08-15
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203768822
pub: 2013-08-22
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This fresh and innovative hybrid text/online material for undergraduate CJ RESEARCH METHODS uniquely addresses the fundamental teaching issue for this course: how to communicate and successfully teach students that their future success as criminal justice practitioners is linked to their acquisition of research skills. 

The author Brian Withrow, a former Texas State Trooper, widely published academic researcher, and teacher of the undergraduate methods course, consistently demonstrates how research skills aren't just essential to university academic researchers; they are essential to student success as criminal justice practitioners, and to all who want to succeed in an information economy. More than 80 short, sharply focused examples throughout the text rely on actual research that is conducted by, on behalf of, or relevant to criminal justice practitioners. The book engages students' interests like no other.

The online materials provide a wide array of instructor support material, all written by the author, and also offer a unique feature, The Researcher's Notebook, which provides students (and their instructors) a series of structured exercises leading to the development and completion of a research question, conducting a literature review, and designing a research method that provides the data necessary to answer the research question - all with a minimal amount of instructor supervision.

Cover images are courtesy of Lauren Withrow


"Brian, I started using your research book this term and LOVE it. I have taught over 10 sections of research and this book is exactly what was needed. I love your "real-world" applications and the way you explain the steps in the research method. Tonight I am taking my students to our library where I have the research librarian give a class in searching the data bases, etc. For the first time I actually see students getting excited about research!"

- Dr. DeborahWoodward, University of Central Florida

"Dr. Withrow’s Research Methods in Crime and Justice is exceptional in terms of explaining the critical ‘how’ and ‘why’ of research methods. First, students need to understand that criminal justice procedures, processes, and methods don’t ‘just happen,’ and that nearly every CJ practice is grounded on a solid theory. Students also need to know how research applies in a real-world, practical sense; in fact, one of his frequently used boxed features is entitled ‘Making Research Real.’ Being a former police practitioner like Dr. Withrow, I appreciate this approach - and that he does not overwhelm the reader with esoteric terms and concepts. Still, where deeper explanation is needed, he provides it; where an example would make the point clearer, he includes it. How better to write such a book?"

-Ken Peak, Criminal Justice, University of Nevada, Reno

"Brian Withrow breathes life into what can be a difficult and confusing topic that many undergraduates have trouble understanding. His use of real-world examples, many from his own life and career, makes the text useful and popular."

-Geoffrey P. Alpert, Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of South Carolina

"It is not difficult to endorse Research Methods in Crime and Justice as it is one of those rare research methods books that are a page turner. Brian Withrow’s use of storytelling to engage the reader is superb! This is an important book that has accomplished what many research methods books have not, illuminating the importance of applying research techniques to both real world and criminal justice scenarios."

-Henry Jackson, Jr., Criminal Justice and Criminology, Metropolitan State University of Denver

"A major travesty in our rapidly emerging field has been our obsession with quantitative strategies. The vast majority of our undergraduate and masters level students who go on to work as practitioners in Criminal Justice rely on training that is qualitative in nature. This text addresses that need and helps fill a void in our evolving pedagogy."

-W. Wesley Johnson, Criminal Justice, University of Southern Mississippi

"Brian Withrow has written a research methods textbook that is sure to be welcomed by those of us who teach methods to criminal justice students. Research Methods in Criminal Justice is a refreshing look at the many methodologies available to researchers via real life examples embedded throughout the book's chapters. Instructors and students alike will be well served by his efforts to help students understand why studying research methods is important to them and their future careers."

-Barbara Sims, Criminal Justice, Mars Hill College

"I really like this manuscript. The contents are unique and excellent."

- Bitna Kim, Criminology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

"I agree with Brian Withrow that it is a very good idea to rely heavily on storytelling as a teaching method and it is important to show students, in a convincing and powerful way, why and how learning research methods is quite relevant to their future work as a criminal justice practitioner."

- Yuning Wu, Criminal Justice, Wayne State University

"What distinguishes this manuscript from all others on the market is the down-to-earth approach, written in common language, which will undoubtedly appeal to typical undergraduates who traditionally struggle with methods."

– Gaylene Armstrong, Criminal Justice, Sam Houston State University

"I like the aims of the book relative to the kinds of things I am trying to accomplish. Focusing on the "story" of research is a useful tool. I also like all the additional materials that focus on giving students a roadmap to produce their research papers as well as research more generally. I also like the exercises at the end of each chapter and elsewhere in the book (or online)."

- Thomas Stucky, Criminal Justice, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Table of Contents



Prologue: What’s the point of this course?

Part One – Getting Started

Chapter 1 – The Research Practice

Chapter 2 – The Research Process

Chapter 3 – The Ethical Principles that Guide Researchers

Part Two – Learning Research Design Basics

Chapter 4 – Classifying Research

Chapter 5 – Causality

Chapter 6 – Measurement

Chapter 7 – Variables and the Structure of Research

Chapter 8 – Sampling

Part Three – Acquiring and Analyzing Data

Chapter 9 – Experimental Design Research Methods

Chapter 10 – Survey/Interview Research Methods

Chapter 11 –Non-Reactive Research Methods

Chapter 12 – Qualitative Research Methods

Chapter 13 – Evaluation Research Methods

Chapter 14 – Data and Information Analysis

Epilogue – How do you know what you know?


Glossary / Index

About the Author

Dr. Brian L. Withrow is Professor of Criminal Justice at Texas State University–San Marcos. Prior to joining the Texas State University faculty in 2009, Brian was an Associate Professor and Director of the Forensic Sciences Program at Wichita State University. While on the faculty at Wichita State University, Dr. Withrow served one term as Mayor of Bel Aire, Kansas. From 1993 to 1999, Dr. Withrow managed a police leadership development program at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

Prior to his scholarly career Brian worked for the Texas Department of Public Safety. He started this part of his career in 1981 as a State Trooper in a rural part of the Texas Panhandle. During the nearly 13 years Brian was at DPS he was promoted to the rank of Training Officer, Inspector, and Bureau Commander.

Brian earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1981, his Masters of Public Administration from Southwest Texas State University in 1993, and his Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice from Sam Houston State University in 1999.

Dr. Withrow lives in Austin, Texas with his wife Lisa. They have four grown children and two grandchildren. Brian is an Eagle Scout and continues to remain active in in the Boy Scouts of America. Currently he serves as the Commissioner for the Sacred Springs District.

About the Series

Criminology and Justice Studies

Criminology and Justice Studies publishes books for undergraduate and graduate courses that model the best scholarship and innovative thinking in the criminology and criminal justice field today, but in a style that connects this scholarship to a wide audience of students, researchers, and possibly the general public.

We are particularly interested in proposals that offer a global perspective on crime and justice, that present a novel approach to more traditional areas of study, or that develop a new way to incorporate the wide and evolving array of digital technologies available to college and university instructors. If you have a publishing project to propose, we look forward to hearing from you!

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Criminology

Preface & Table of Contents

A Message to the Student