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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Writing in Criminal Justice: Experimental (Empirical) Studies

Experimental Research

"Experimental research is a scientific approach to research, where one or more independent variables are manipulated and applied to one or more dependent variables to measure their effect on the latter. The effect of the independent variables on the dependent variables is usually observed and recorded over some time, to aid researchers in drawing a reasonable conclusion regarding the relationship between these 2 variable types."*  

Experimental studies generally have some form or a combination of these sections/headings in the reading: 

Abstract, Purpose, Literature Review, Methods or Methodology, Design, Procedures, Data, Findings, Results, Discussion, Conclusions, Implications


Click here for an example of an experimental study in criminology:

Whistleblowing system, Machiavellian personality, fraud intention: An experimental study 

*Experimental research designs: Types, examples & methods. (2020 January 23). Formplus Blog.

Use Library Databases to Find Experimental Studies

Experimental studies are often presented as published articles in key academic or scholarly journals in the field of criminology and criminal justice.  Use our criminal justice databases to find experimental studies:

Criminal Justice Abstracts with Fulltext

Criminal Justice Periodical Index

Social Sciences Full Text

SocINDEX with Full Text

Sociological Abstracts

Urban Studies Abstracts

Here are some examples of research methods you may add as key terms/phrases in order to find experimental studies:

experiment or experimental or quasi-experimental          

quantitative or qualitative research

survey research                                                            

cross-sectional research

longitudinal study

multivariate analysis                                                    

time series research

correlation analysis


Here are just a few examples of some viable searches:

impulsivity and juvenile crime and longitudinal study

religiosity and juvenile offenders and experimental

meta-analysis and restorative justice programs

crime and mental health and time series research

Experimental Studies in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Consult the following materials for a better understanding of experimental criminology and scientifically based research in the field of criminal justice.  These sources provide an overall discussion of experimental (empirical) studies in criminology and criminal justice (for more in-depth discussions see the listing below). Some of these materials discuss specific research studies in criminology and, therefore, may help you to brainstorm topic ideas:

Braga, A. (2009). Experimental criminology. In J. M. Miller (Ed.), 21st Century criminology: A reference handbook (pp. 413-421). SAGE Publications.

Farrington, D., & Welsh, B. (2006). A half century of randomized experiments on crime and justice. Crime and Justice, 34(1), 55-132.

Frost, N. (2002). Experimental criminology. In D. Levinson (Ed.), Encyclopedia of crime and punishment (Vol. 1, pp. 657-659). SAGE Publications.

Mazerolle, L., & Bennett, S. (2011). Experimental criminology. Oxford Bibliographies in Criminology. Oxford University Press.

Piquero, A.R., & Piquero, N.L. (2002). Criminology and Criminal Justice Research: Methods. In J. Dressler (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice (2nd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 473-480). Macmillan Reference USA.

Qualitative Criminology. (2009). In L.E. Sullivan (Ed.), The SAGE Glossary of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (p. 427). SAGE Reference.

Quantitative Research. (2009). In L.E. Sullivan (Ed.), The SAGE Glossary of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (p. 429). SAGE Reference.

Quantitative research methods. Criminology and criminal justice research. (n.d.). Law Library. American Law and Legal Information. 


The following materials provide a deeper look into experimental criminology and criminal justice:

Bachman, R., & Schutt, R.K. (2020). The practice of research in criminology and criminal justice (7th ed.). Sage.  Reserve Room HV6024.5 .B33 2020  (3 day loan) 

Bachman, R., & Schutt, R.K. (2018). Fundamentals of research in criminology and criminal justice (4th ed.).  Sage.  Reserve Room HV6024.5 .B32 2018

Hagan, F. (2014). Research methods in criminal justice and criminology (9th ed.). Pearson.  Reserve Room  HV6024.5 .H33 2014

Jupp, V. R., & Jupp, V. (1989). Methods of criminological research. Taylor and Francis.  Available online and Stacks HV 6024.5 .J87 1989

Rennison, & Hart, T. C. (2023). Research methods in criminal justice and criminology (2nd ed.). SAGE.  Reserve Room HV7419.5 .R46 2023

Quantitative Research

Choosing Quantitative or Qualitative