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CRJS 491: Interpersonal Violence

Topic Generation and Exploration

Try the following databases for almost all criminal justice topics.  Try searching general terms, adding more specifics as you see what language is used to describe your topic. For this example set, I'm using the general topic "domestic violence" to explore resources. 

  • Put "quotes" around terms to hold them together when searching. For example: "domestic violence" holds these terms together.
  • Add the term policy to see what (if any) policies have been studied. For example: "Domestic violence" and policing and policy OR regulation. 
  • To study the topic and a specific group, search for a general term to represent that group. For example: "Domestic violence" and gender OR "domestic violence" and race OR "domestic violence" and "incarcerated individuals"

Start with a general database like Criminal Justic Abstracts. Use some of the other databases once you decide which direction you are going in. For instance, if you decide to pursue a topic based on economic concerns, then move to Business Source Complete. If you decide on a health related angle, start searching your terms in CINAHL.

In a specialty database, search the term you want (for instance "interpersonal violence" and "socio economic status" in Business Source Complete OR "interpersonal violence" and "health outcomes" in CINAHL).

Effectiveness Exploration

Researching the effectiveness of any policy would be done in the previous databases. 

  • Use general terms like effect along with the name of your policy/regulation/program. You can use positive or negative as terms, but be careful to search for both, so that you remove bias from your reporting.
  • Consequences is another term you can use, but generally academic articles will refer to effect or outcome rather than consequences (which may be too many to count).
  • "Policy alternatives" may be another term worth exploring with your policy/regulation/program.

Finding Books

  • Click on the Advanced Search button inside the yellow search box on
  • Put your policy keywords in the search box of the page. I put "domestic violence" in the top box and "policy" in the middle box.
  • To the right of that page, under material type, choose books.
  • Click search.
  • On the right, there is a filter for Online Access. You can use this filter if you are not able to come to the library to retrieve print books. This will narrow your search to only electronic books.

Other Resources

To use Google effectively:

  • Search your policy name along with site:gov to get government websites. Example: Violence Against Women Act site:gov gets you government websites on this Act.
  • If you change to site:edu, you get educational websites.
  • Site:mil gets you military websites (if you are studying something within the military)
  • Site:org gets you nonprofits that are concerned with your topic/policy. Be aware of bias within these organizations, and seek multiple descriptions of the effectivess of your policy to account for the leanings of the various organizations.

Think tank searching: 

Use the Kennedy School of Business' Think Tank Search Engine to seek groups that may be interested in your topic. Once you find these think tanks, look for their research sections on their websites for materials,

Scholarly Articles

How do I know if my source is scholarly?

Along with being a primary source, it is frequently important that you know if your source is scholarly and appropriate for academic research. Some traits of scholarly articles are...

  • Citations to work done by others
  • Language is often serious and technical
  • Images are usually charts, graphs, or otherwise informative, rather than glossy photographs or advertisments
  • Authors' names are given, along with their affilitions with university, research institutions, etc.
  • Date of publication is given, frequently along with the date on which the articles was submitted for peer review
  • "About" or "instructions for authors" link on the journal's Web site indicates that the journal is peer reviewed or describes its peer review process
  • Peer Reviewed Journals publish scholarly articles. Some library databases let you limit your search results to peer reviewed journals, but they don't completely screen out content that is not peer reviewed. Pay attention to the other signs that a source is scholarly.