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CJC-103: Policing in a Democratic Society: Home

Research Practice Activity

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Paper 1 Assignment

Topics for Paper 1:

(topic 1): Bail reform and the increase in crime: What the research shows

(topic 2): Should the police be in schools? What the research shows

Paper Criteria and Requirements

Four (4) full typewritten pages plus one APA style references page that answers the question, what does the research show about bail reform/police in schools? Throughout the paper, present both sides of the issue in a balanced and objective manner. To do this, do the following:

Use at least four (4) sources are required (APA style).

    • At least two (2) from news media: one (1) news analysis article from The Wall Street Journal and one news analysis article from The New York Times
    • At least two (2) analysis reports/articles from think tanks, either balanced with liberal and conservative perspectives or from objective, non-biased think tanks

Cite sources in text using APA citation style.

Divide into three (3) sections.

    1. Introduction
  • Define and describe topic/policy solutions background and goals
    1. Body
      • Present key arguments in support of topic/policy solution
      • Present key arguments in opposition to topic/policy solution
      • Include key statistics that the different sides of the topic/policy solution use in support of their positions
      • Include key examples that the different sides of the topic/policy solution use in support of their positions
      • Summarize your findings of areas of agreement, if any, and key conflicts between each side
    2. Conclusion
      • Reflection on the research process including at least (1) one lesson you learned.  

Research Strategies and Tools for Paper #1

This guide will help you find sources for your position paper.

This assignment requires 2 news sources, one from The Wall Street Journalone from The New York Times, and 2 sources from think tanks or government sources. You can search the Harvard Think Tank Search to find reports from think tanks and Google Advanced Search for government sources. 

Professor Joyce asked you to look for sources on one of two topics:

(topic 1): Bail reform and the increase in crime: What the research shows

(topic 2): Should the police be in schools? What the research shows

Search Strategies for this paper

Start by looking for a broad overview of your topic. Ideally you'll find a long form, credible report that gives a broad outline of the issues. You may find an analysis article in a news source, or it might be more likely to find something in a think tank or a government source. 

Try a Harvard Think Tank search to look across all think tanks. If this doesn't work, try specific non-partisan think tanks such as Rand CorporationPew Research Center, Congressional Research Service, or government sources by doing a Google advanced search in the .gov domain.

Google Advanced Search allows you to search within certain domains, such as .gov for US government websites, .us, often used for state-level domains, or .mil for US military information. 

When you try your search terms, such as "bail reform" or "police in schools"  you might not find news articles that have your terms in the title. That's okay-- there are a few steps to thorough searching.

Use the Find function for efficiency: Stories in the results might relate to your topic even if they don't have your search words in the title. You can work your way down the result list, opening each article and typing CTRL F or on a Mac, Command F. Type a word from your search like "bail" or "officer" in the search function that comes up and the browser will highlight instances of your search words. 

Try synonyms for your search words: Another way people refer to  "police in schools" is "school resource officer." Or instead of "prisons pandemic," you can try "prisons COVID" or "prisons coronavirus" or even instead of prisons, "jails" even though this isn't technically correct. 

 

 

Evaluating your sources

First think about what type of news source you're looking at. Is the article you found in The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal  a hard news story, analysis, or opinion/commentary? If it is hard news, did the reporter ask for perspectives from people on different sides of the issue, who are experts qualified to speak on the topic?

If you found a think tank source, does it have a bias? If it does have a bias, try a think tank on the other side of the spectrum, as well as a non-partisan or centrist think tank. You can check the chart below for some examples of think tanks and their commonly understood ideological orientation. If you'd like to search a specific think tank, try Googling your topic and the think tank's name, such as "bail reform Brookings Institution."  

If you identified bias in the story, did you find another story that explores the issue from another angle so you have a better idea of what people on different sides of the issue think?

You can use the CRAAP test to make sure your sources are current, relevant, authoritative, accurate, and that you understand their purpose and whether they are biased. 

 

 

The Harvard Think Tank Search searches only the websites of Think Tanks. These reports will have high quality information but may be biased because the think tanks have policy agendas that they would like to advance.

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