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Research Aids

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There are many ways to organize a research effort. Regardless of personal preferences for general order and specific sources, it seems that at least four categories of activities can be identified.



  • The Library Spot One of the best places to begin. Here you will find libraries online, research sites, reading rooms, and even some help with term papers.
  • Criminal Justice Resource Center Robert Goehlert and Naomi DiNello, at Indiana University - Bloomington, have compiled an extremely useful list of Research Guides, Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, Handbooks, Yearbooks, Directories, and Bibliographies in Criminal Justice. This is a great place to review what traditional library sources are available to help you with research papers.
  • Dictionary.com This highly useful commercial site distinguishes itself from other online reference sources in several ways. For example, when users type in a word seeking its definition, the site returns several definitions from different, reputable dictionaries (including, sometimes, foreign language ones), allowing users to compare meanings. Visitors can also ask "Dr. Dictionary" questions relating to words and grammar. And, most strikingly, the site features a translation page that will translate anything from a phrase to an entire Webpage from one major European language, including English, to another. There are word games, online foreign dictionaries, and links to writing resources here as well.
  • FirstGov You're not going to find an easier way to find federal government information and links to appropriate sites.
  • Internet Detective An online tutorial developed by staff at The Institute for Learning and Research Technology (ILRT) at the University of Bristol, is an excellent tutorial for developing skill in the selection of quality Internet information. Practical tips for evaluating a variety of online resource is also available. Free registration is required to for you to return to the site as necessary and work through the tutorial at your own pace.
  • Internet Public Library The first public library on the Internet. Web's largest collection of links for persons wanting to know more about most all subjects.
  • NCJRS Abstract Database This is one of the most complete databases you will find for articles and books on all areas of criminology and criminal justice. Enter search words (e.g., community policing) and you will receive a list of relevant publications that can then be looked at in greater detail.
  • PSYCLINE A guide to psychology and social science journals on the web. The format of the site varies at some of the nine mirrors, but at the main site and most of the mirrors, users can search the index by keyword or browse by alphabetical listing, subject, and by type of information online (ejournals, selected articles, abstracts, tables of contents) via pull-down menus. Entries include a brief description, content offered online, and a link. An excellent resource for scholars and students in psychology, linguistics, and sociology.

Information Gathering Techniques

  • BotSpot A bot (short for robot) is a software tool for sorting through data and retrieving requested information. Bots explore all Web servers to conduct methodical searches for information you specify. BotSpot is "the spot for all bots on the Web" and most of the bots listed can be downloaded for free, but some require a fee. Browse through the Best of the Bots and Bots by Category to get an idea of how much more powerful and comprehensive a bot is compared with an ordinary search engine. (From NCJRS Catalog Jan/Feb 2000).
  • IRSS Public Opinion Poll Question Database The Institute for Research in Social Science (IRSS) allows researchers to conduct keyword searches on questions derived from public opinion polls, dating from the 1960s to the present. Query results display the full text of the poll questions, information about the studies, and, in many searches, frequency distributions. The IRSS Public Opinion Poll Question Database is an excellent resource for researchers who are developing "questions for their own studies, as well as for users interested in frequencies or in locating particular variables for statistical analysis."

Research Methods

  • Justice Research and Statistics Association  A clearinghouse of current information on state criminal justice research, programs, and publications
  • Resources for Methods in Evaluation and Social Research This page lists FREE resources for methods in evaluation and social research. The focus is on "how-to" do evaluation research and the methods used: surveys, focus groups, sampling, interviews, and other methods. Most of these links are to resources that can be read over the web. A few, like the GAO books, are for books that can be sent away for, for free (if you live in the US), as well as read over the web.

Legal Research

  • The Virtual Chase's Legal Research Guide is geared toward legal professionals, but is reasonably easy for others to use as well.
  • ABA Factbooks A very helpful collections of books that can be viewed with Adobe Reader. Topics include Women and the Law, the American Judicial System, and the American Criminal Justice System. This is a good place to get accurate information on specific topics.
  • The Legal Research Page offered by LawGuru provides quick access to helpful search tools and a user-friendly interface.