Research Methods in Criminology

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
CRIM 2254
Research Methods in Criminology
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture: 2 hrs. per week / semester Seminar: 2 hrs. per week / semester
Method Of Instruction
Methods Of Instruction

The course will employ a range of instructional techniques: lecture, class discussion, audio-visual materials, guest lectures, field observation, and term projects.

Course Description
This is an introductory course in research methodology in Criminology and the Social Sciences. Topics addressed include: origin of research questions; qualitative and quantitative approaches; deductive and inductive approaches including theory, hypothesis testing and causality; sampling; and ethical issues in research. Using an inter-disciplinary approach, course materials will focus on research in criminology and criminal justice. Emphasis will be placed on data gathering techniques.
Course Content
  1. The social science research enterprise
  2. Research decisions and how they are made
  3. Qualitative and Quantitative  Methodologies
    • Inductive and deductive approaches
    • Theory, variables, hypotheses, causality
    • Operationalization
  4. Ethical issues in research
  5. Sampling
    • Purpose, function,
    • Probability & non-probability types
    • Reliability, validity and generalization issues
  6. Experimentation and Quasi-Experimentation
  7. Data Collection
    • Questionnaire design and administration
    • Interviewing techniques
    • Observation
    • Case Studies
    • Interactive and Internet Research techniques
  8. Descriptive & Inferential Statistics
    • Function and purposes
Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

  1. Describe and explain the nature and purpose of the social scientific research enterprise.

  2. Describe and explain the nature of research decisions facing social science researchers.

  3. Describe the differences and similarities between quantitative and qualitative approaches as well as explain the general strengths and weaknesses of each.

  4. Describe and explain contemporary ethical issues in conducting research on human subjects.

  5. Describe and explain sampling.

  6. Describe and explain the relevance of experimentation and quasi-experimentation.

  7. Describe and explain the relationship between theory, variables, hypotheses and causality.

  8. Describe and explain the strengths and weaknesses of such data gathering techniques as: questionnaire design and administration; case studies; interviewing; observation; unobtrusive and archival methods; and, Internet-based research techniques.

  9. Describe and explain the relationships between reliability, validity and generalizability.

  10. Describe and explain the purpose and function of descriptive and inferential statistics.
Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based on course objectives and carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy.  The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester.  Evaluation will be based on some of the following:


  1. Exams, quizzes
  2. Research project/ term paper


An example of one possible evaluation scheme would be:

Midterm Exam 1  35%
Midterm Exam 2  35%
Research Paper  20%
Final Quiz  10%
Textbook Materials

Texts will be updated periodically.  A typical example is:

  • Palys, T & Atchison, C. (2008) Research Decisions: Quantitative & Qualitative Perspectives, 4th ed., Nelson, Toronto.