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CRIM 12: Criminology

Library resources for CRIM 12 LEAP cohort

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Where do you get ideas for topics you want to explore?

Although I recognize that social media is one of the most popular source for stimulating topics of interest, it has some decided draw backs in developing reflective academic papers. I would like to suggest a few other ways to help you choose topics that will make your academic experience more efficient and focused.  

Gray Literature

Caution: many of the publications that you will find from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), National Institute of Justice (NIJ), and the National Criminal Justice Reference Service(NCJRS) are not "scholarly articles".  However, they are an important type of literature known as Gray Literature that can enhance your introduction to your research. 

Defining gray literature

In general, gray literature publications are non-conventional, fugitive, and sometimes ephemeral publications. They may include, but are not limited to the following types of materials


  • pre-prints,
  • preliminary progress and advanced reports,
  • technical reports,
  • statistical reports,
  • memoranda,
  • state-of-the art reports,
  • market research reports, etc.,   
  • theses,
  • conference proceedings,
  • technical specifications and standards,
  • non-commercial translations,
  • bibliographies,
  • technical and commercial documentation,
  • and official documents not published commercially (primarily government reports and documents)

 (Alberani, 1990). Alberani V, Pietrangeli PDC, Mazza AMR (1990). The use of grey literature in health sciences: a preliminary survey. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association 78(4): 358-363.

How do scholarly articles differ from "gray literature"? 

  • Typically published much faster than scholarly articles
  • Has no formal peer-reviewed process
  • Doesn't usually have a comprehensive literature review
  • Often the "official author" is an agency or organization rather than an individual

Handbooks & Encyclopedias

What are handbooks?

Often times a particular topic gains ongoing scholarly interest that attracts the interest of a publisher or research organization. Authors who are known in the particular field of study are often asked to contribute chapters or to provide editorial oversight for these types of publications. Handbooks can provide a useful overview of the topic and help you identify some of the "movers and shakers" in that particular area of research.

Evaluating Encyclopedia's

The University Libraries provide access to many specialized encyclopedias in a variety of fields of study. However, you should also be prepared to evaluate each for their scholarly value. Below are some suggestions of what to look for:

  • Who is the publisher?  Typically those published by university presses are considered scholarly (e.g. Oxford, Cambridge, etc...)

These commercial publishers typically publish academic content: Blackwell, De Gruyter, Elsevier, Gale, Macmillan, Peter Lang, Routledge, Sage, Springer Publishers, Thomson Reuters

  • Who are the editors of the encyclopedia?  Usually found in the front cover.  
  • What are the editors credentials?
  • Who are the authors?   

Core Scholarly Journals (browse)

What is scholarly literature?  

Typically when you hear people use the phrase "scholarly literature" they are talking about scholarly journal articles.  The problem with this idea is that scholarly literature is not published strictly in journal articles. In fact, there is considerable scholarly literature published in book format.  Consequently, many consider the use of the phrase "scholarly literature" to include publications in all formats.

Scholarly journal articles differ from other forms of literature in that they required some type of scholarly review process.  Scholarly articles also have a very distinct disciplinary format all of which include a review of literature.

Below is a list of SOME of the key scholarly journals in Criminology and Criminal Justice.  Sometimes it helps to simply browse an appropriate titles to generate some ideas about a topic.

Law Enforcement

Criminal Behavior

Corrections & Courts