Doing Your Undergraduate Social Science Dissertation Routledge


This is the companion website for Criminological Research for Beginners: A Student’s Guide.

Criminological Research for Beginners is a comprehensive and engaging guide to research methods in Criminology. Written specifically for undergraduate students and novice researchers, this book has been designed as a practical guide to planning, conducting and reporting research in the subject. By first inviting readers to consider the importance of criminological research, the book places related methodology firmly in the context of students’ broader study of Criminology, before moving on to provide a detailed guide to the practical processes of research.

What you will find on this site

As you will have seen from the visual indicators in the book, this site contains the types of student and instructor resources listed below. Just click on the tab above, relevant to you (´Student´ or ´Instructor´), to find the materials for each chapter.

For students:

  • Video of a live student debate, featuring undergraduate and masters students discussing their own research and what constitutes good research, and evaluating a case study (see below).
  • Interactive quizzes.
  • Web links to a variety of useful social data sources.
  • Examples of secondary data sources and how to analyse them, including critical analyses of journal articles.
  • Guides to holding effective interviews and focus groups.
  • Self-assessment questionnaires, relating to the three paradigms of positivism and critical and interpretavist research.
  • Further guidance on dissertation writing, with sample extracts of 'good' and 'bad' practice in terms of referencing, writing style and plagiarism.
  • Further guidance on using SPSS.

For instructors:

  • Sample exercises, activities and forms.
  • Chapter-related case studies with reflective student exercises.
  • Editable PowerPoint slides.

Video: student discussion

Introduction by co-author Jane Hill, who chaired the discussion:

The video below was recorded with a group of postgraduate and undergraduate criminology students. Prior to the recording the students were asked to think about what constitutes ‘good’ criminological research. They were also provided with this article, which they read beforehand:

Cowburn, M. (2007) ‘Men Researching Men in Prison: The Challenges for Pro-Feminist Research’, Howard Journal, 46(3): 276–288.

The article was chosen specifically because of the explicit researcher standpoint that is outlined in the article as we knew that it was likely to give rise to an interesting discussion – especially about notions of value-neutrality, objectivity and ‘bias’. The article also enabled us to discuss some ethical dilemmas that arise during the process of research.

The students who took part were varied in terms of their experience of doing research. Some had done very little whilst others were quite practised. You will notice that the students’ own experiences of research influenced their thinking about how research should be carried out and that quite early on in the recording it became evident that elements of the positivist (or scientific) model of research were quite often referred to in ways that suggested it is the model by which all research should be judged. As the debate develops we hope that you will gain understanding of the fact that positivism is just one way of knowing, not superior or inferior to the other ways of knowing, at least in our view, but simply different. We hope that after you have thought about the issues that are discussed you will be more able to understand the different theories of knowledge within which research may be carried out and that this discussion may challenge some of your own preconceptions. We would like you to take away the idea that it is important to gain knowledge of crime in society in a variety of ways in order to gain a wider understanding of the complexity of this social phenomenon. Most of all we hope that you will be excited about doing your own research.

We are grateful to all the students who took part and to their tutors who allowed us to disrupt their day! We hope that you learn a great deal from their contributions and that you enjoy the debate as much as we did.

Clips from this video are also available among the student resources for Chapters 2, 3 and 6, where the video has been divided into three parts according to its relevance to each of these chapters.

What instructors are saying about the book

‘Laura Caulfield and Jane Hill have grasped the thorny issue of how to inspire and enable first time criminology researchers. They have produced a common-sense, no-nonsense introductory text that removes the fear from embarking on criminological research without losing sight of the need for rigour. Rich in advice, guidance and real-life examples, this will be a welcome resource for novice researchers.’

Rob C. Mawby, Reader in Criminology, University of Leicester

‘Accessibly written, coherently organised, and drawing upon examples from undergraduate dissertations to classic social science, this book does what its title promise – and much more. From the politics and ethics of criminological research, through to the reflexive framing and contextualisation of research questions, as well as extended explorations of the practicalities of ‘doing’ such research via a variety of forms of generating qualitative and quantitative data, this text stands alone in its ambition – and its accomplishments.‘

Steve Tombs, Professor of Criminology, The Open University

The Library Catalog

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