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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Writing in Criminal Justice: Criminal Justice Research

Reference Materials: Encyclopedias, Handbooks, etc.

Reference materials are a good way to begin your research:








  • Helps to brainstorm for topic ideas
  • Provides a topic overview
  • Helps with formulating your topic (how to think about your topic)
  • Heading provide different ways to break down your topic (relevant issues)
  • Uses topic specific vocabulary/terms (use when searching for additional sources) 
  • Provides a bibliography leading to additional relevant books and/or articles

Online Reference Sources

Books with Computer Mouse attached

Our Library has access to a wide variety of criminal justice and social science encyclopedias as well as other reference sources which provide a broad overview of criminal justice topics.

Enter your key words (s) or phrase(s) in the search box OR browse the List of Entries or Subject Index of a particular encyclopedia to find information on your topic.  For example:

women offenders

hate crimes

workplace violence


General Encyclopedias and Reference Sources:

Gale eBooks (formerly Gale Virtual Reference Library)

International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences

Oxford Reference Online

Sage Knowledge Collection

Very Short Introductions

Criminal Justice


Criminal justice research combines multiple disciplines in order to understand both the nature of crime and how to respond to criminal activity and violence including causes, prevention and punishment.

Some topics include:




criminal law and procedure

law enforcement


computer applications in criminal justice

investigative techniques

juvenile justice

race and crime

female offenders

prisoner reentry


Know What You Need

Know what you need:

State your topic in one sentence.  This helps to identify keywords/phrases to describe your topic.

How many pages do you need to fulfill your assignment?  Knowing how many pages you need to fulfil your assignment helps to determine how much information and how many sources you will need.

How many and what kind of sources are required?  Has your professor stated exactly how many and what type of sources you need?  This information will help you choose a database and also limit your search to those types of sources you need whether it be scholarly journals, books, newspapers, and/or statistics.