Skip to Main Content

Criminology and Criminal Justice Library Guide

A guide to research in criminology and criminal justice.

Books Matter

Books and journal articles are the most common way to access scholarly research in your field, but each has advantages and disadvantages.  Books take longer to research, write, and publish, so the information is not as current as in journal articles, which are shorter and slightly faster to publish.  However, because they are longer and took more time to produce, books offer more thorough coverage of a topic, draw on a wider range of preexisting scholarship, and often excel in placing an argument in broader thematic and disciplinary context.

Consider a scholarly book in your own research, and look for the following:

  • Helpful introduction and overview of the topic;
  • Comprehensive literature review, outlining the major scholars and existing points of view on the topic;
  • Detailed study of the topic, usually broken down into manageable chapters;
  • Extensive bibliography to help you and other scholars find related works on the topic.

Subject Headings

The subject headings used in the library catalog to describe works on criminology and criminal justice will often include one of the following phrases. Consider adding them to your keyword searches to hone in on social aspects of a wide range of topics and cultures.

  • Capital punishment
  • Corrections
  • Crime prevention
  • Criminal behavior
  • Criminal justice, administration of
  • Imprisonment
  • Law
  • Offenders
  • Policing
  • Prisoners
  • Recidivism
  • Restorative justice
  • Victims of crime

Remember you do not need to know the full subject heading in advance. Keyword searching for these phrases plus your topic keyword will work too when these phrases appear anywhere in the subject heading, title, or abstract/table of contents of an item.


Discipline and Punish

In this brilliant work, the most influential philosopher since Sartre suggests that such vaunted reforms as the abolition of torture and the emergence of the modern penitentiary have merely shifted the focus of punishment from the prisoner's body to his soul.

Code of the Streets

Inner-City Black America is often stereotyped as a place of random violence: in fact, violence in the inner city is regulated through an informal but well-known code of the street. How you dress, talk, and behave can have life-or-death consequences, with young people particularly at risk. This incisive book examines the code as a response to the lack of jobs that pay a living wage, to the stigma of race, to rampant drug use, to alienation and lack of hope.

On the Run

Forty years in, the War on Drugs has done almost nothing to prevent drugs from being sold or used, but it has nonetheless created a little-known surveillance state in America's most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Arrest quotas and high-tech surveillance techniques criminalize entire blocks, and transform the very associations that should stabilize young lives--family, relationships, jobs--into liabilities, as the police use such relationships to track down suspects, demand information, and threaten consequences. Alice Goffman spent six years living in one such neighborhood in Philadelphia, and her close observations and often harrowing stories reveal the pernicious effects of this pervasive policing.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.