Contact

William Virkler, M.B.A.
Chair of Criminal Justice

(315) 223-2559

Student Writing Guide

Criminal Justice/Economic Crime Investigation


By Prof. Kyungseok Choo

This writing manual is not intended to answer any and all questions that may arise as you write essays and papers assigned in each course. It should be recognized as a supplement to other materials available to you. For example, Quick Access: reference for writers, written by Troyka, is an excellent resource. In addition, you should certainly take advantage of the writing session for new students offered each semester by the faculty members of CJ and ECI department.

I. Introduction: Problem Statement

  • What is it that we need to know, don't know yet, and you are going to tell your readers (In a college student writing, most of time your reader will be your professor) on the basis of your research?

  • What are your readers expecting from your introduction?
    � You must convince readers that you have discovered a research problem worth their consideration
    � If your readers are wondering with a question "why am I reading this?" you eventually fail to attract attentions from your readers.
    � You will state some conditions of incomplete knowledge or flawed understanding (ignorance and misunderstanding).
    � You will also state about benefits out of your research. Or you can state the possible cost and consequences if the problems are unresolved.

  • Are you assuming that your readers, particularly your professors know about your research problems?
    � Please do not guess they know about your research problems. More often your professors won?t know unless you tell them.

  • Are you able to tell your readers that you found its solutions or promised solutions to come?
    � You can state the gist of your solution, we have found that ...
    � Or promise a solution, In this report, we describe that?

  • In general, you should provide following elements in the introduction
    1. Opening move: general statement
    2. Context of past research
    3. Condition of ignorance
    4. Cost of that ignorance
    5. Gist of solution

  • Please choose one or two well-known journal articles and find out these elements.

  • If your professor provides guidelines or format of student paper, to achieve a course purpose, you should follow those guidelines.

II. Body

A. Literature Review: Situating your problems in the literature

  • What have others said about your topic?
    � If any theories tried to address your research problems, what do they say?
    � If any, what researches have been done?
    � Are the findings consistent or do past studies disagree?

  • Are you showing your readers that you know the relevant background?
    � Present this as a series of issues relating to your topic rather than a series of summaries of other research articles. Breaking it down and presenting it in some logical fashion
    � Present this in a way that sets up what you are going to do. Therefore, don?t go through tons of readings just to show your professor how much you have read.
B. If writing a review paper, you need to expand your literature review: Discussion

  • Are your statements logically connected?
    � Do not display original thinking but to demonstrate your understanding of current knowledge.
    � Begin with a topic sentence in each paragraph or you can put your topic sentence at the end of each paragraph.
    � Your topic sentence generally state a reason backed up with evidences by specific details and examples.
    � The evidence usually consists of facts, statistics, and expert opinion.
    � A paragraph must have logical connection with a following paragraph. These connections should be very smooth and topic oriented.
    � Tell your story in detail but step by step.
    � In general, you bring in background materials and weave together for a coherent and sensible argument and presentation in the text.

  • Can I make an argument that contradicts with other researchers on my topic?
    � Of course, you can.
    � It is a good idea that allows the readers to think of opposing views and explain why they are wrong.
    � You can make your refutation with a separate paragraph.

  • More hints:
    1. It is a good idea to distinguish your argument from quotation
    - Make sure your readers understand what a quotation is expected to accomplish.
    - Imagine that while you explain something (your topic) to someone (your reader), the third person (your quotation) interrupt your conversation.

    2. It is better to use a stronger verb and if actor isn't a person, figure out who or what is doing something (Clarity)

  • Are you aware of what kind of paper you are writing?
    � Student paper can largely be divided into two categories: review paper and research paper
    � If you are writing a review paper, you should discuss your key findings (your arguments or ideas), develop and claim them in detail in this section. Or you may create a separate "discussion" section.
    � If a research paper, you must include a "research method: methodology" section before a "discussion" section.
C. Research method: Methodology

  • What is the research method or methodology?
    � Here, you will explain the design of your research.
    � The literature review (a product of library research) established your knowledge of the field, and this section demonstrates both your understanding of the methodology you have chosen and your creativity in its application to your specific topic.
    � The specific elements will vary depending on the methodology used, but this should be a detailed plan.

  • What are your hypotheses or research questions?
    � Begin the research design section by stating the hypotheses (quantitative research) or research questions (qualitative research) that the study is designed to test.

  • Are you specifying and measuring the variables in the hypothesis or research questions?
    � List the variables that you propose to use, and specify how each will be operationalized.
    � You should justify any operationalizations that are not obvious.
    � For example, if you are operationalizing strain (a complex concept), you should justify your choice of measures.
    � If you are operationalizing sex of respondent, the obvious attributes are male and female, and do not require extensive justification
    � If you are using someone else's operationalizing, be sure to cite that source here.
    � In your justification, you should mention any issues of validity, reliability, or ethics that are pertinent to your choice of operationalizing

  • Whom and what will you study in order to collect data for your research problem? And how will you actually collect the data for your study?
    � Parts of this design may be clear from the discussion of measures, but you should present the unit of analysis, sampling frame, sampling procedure, sample size, type of data to be collected and method of collection.
    � These should be justified reliability, validity, and ethical issues, as your operationalizations were.
    � If you are using a long survey questionnaire, you may include it as an appendix and refer to it in the text.

  • You will provide and discuss your research results, often with tables and graph, in the results/discussion section.

III. Conclusion

  • Are you reminding the reader of what you argued?
    � Send your professor or your readers off with a satisfied feeling that he's learned something worth learning.

  • Don't simply reiterates the points made in the essay
    � Provide broaden or any larger vision or context
    � Return at the end to a quotation, image or statement that essay begin with, but echo the words with new twist or perspective

  • Remember nobody knows better than you know about your research. Therefore, you are becoming an expert on your topic. You have to be very confident and comfortable with your research at the end of your research project.

  • In general, you should provide following elements in the conclusion

    1. Gist of solution
    2. Larger significance/application
    3. What is still not known
    4. Call for further research
    5. Closing quotation/fact