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Comparative Analysis of Past and Present Research of Citizens Perception of the Police.

Paper details

Guidelines for the Term Paper SOC 664

This paper should be on some acceptable topic in police and society. You should submit to me as soon as possible a paragraph summary of what you intend to write about in the paper. You should go beyond a simple literature review, by committing to a research problem or problem statement, stated in such a way that you can bring available scholarly literature to bear to place the topic or problem in a new light.
For example, a perfectly acceptable topic for this paper could be police integrity tests. But it is not good enough simply to go out and collect all the scholarly literature on integrity tests and report back. What you would need to do beyond this is state a problem upfront, and generate a broader discussion with the goal in mind of addressing that problem or thesis statement. So, for example, you may propose the thesis that “Integrity tests as they are currently employed do not help ensure proper police conduct,” or “Targeted integrity testing is better (or worse) than random integrity testing, and in this paper I will explain why.” It is up to you to select a topic (in consultation with me) and develop a working hypothesis or problem statement related to that topic that will sustain an extended discussion of 15+ pages.

It is not my job here to provide a “connect-the-dots” set of guidelines for the formatting of your paper. You should already be aware of the basics of writing a paper and placing it in the appropriate format, including citation styles and the production of a bibliography. (You should use APA or ASA citation style. You should double-space your paper with at least one inch margins all around. You should include page numbers. You should avoid lengthy quotations, but if you do quote you need to cite the source material appropriately. In this sense, you need to learn the fine art of paraphrasing, that is, as much as possible putting the ideas of others into your own words, and synthesizing the literature in a meaningful way which contributes to supporting your problem statement. Also, this helps you avoid the problem of plagiarism. Plagiarism is the practice of using the writings of other without proper attribution. You will receive a zero on your paper if major plagiarism is detected. Minor plagiarism will receive major point reductions, possibly up to 30 or 40 points. It is up to you to understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.
You should include at least twelve scholarly citations in your paper, collected in a final section of your paper labeled “References” or “Bibliography.” Everything cited or used in the body of the text should be included in your bibliography. For guidelines of how to construct a bibliography, again, look at the style guidelines cited above, or look at scholarly books and articles for examples of how this is done. Appropriate works which end up in your bibliography will generally be taken from scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles or scholarly monographs (that is, books). (The two books we are using in this class count as scholarly resources should you choose to use them in any capacity.) You should NOT use Wikipedia as a scholarly source, although it may be helpful to go to a Wikipedia entry on some topic of interest and look at the scholarly resources cited there. You may then look these up and see if any are useful for your argument.
The best way to organize your paper is to use major headings and minor subheadings. Again, look at our two books as well as any scholarly journal article (such as the ones posted to Blackboard Learn) for examples of how headings and subheadings are used. You need not be limited to only these, but a basic guideline for a minimum set of headings looks something like this, and in the order listed.
Introduction – this is where you present your problem statement or thesis, written in a clear way which shows unambiguously what you propose to do in this paper. You may also explain why the proposed issue or problem is important, and how your paper will contribute new insights into the area. This need not be overly long, and could range from 1 to 3 pages.
Literature Review – After the brief description of the problem, you should provide an overview and synthesis of pertinent literature, that is, things that have already been written on the topic. For example, your problem statement could look something like this:
William Sanders (1979) wrote a seminal paper on the “police occasion.” Sanders argued that there are eight basic types of police occasions, and although the typology is useful as a beginning for understanding the everyday realities police officers out in the field face as they interact with citizens, it is deficient in several respects. In this paper I will argue that the idea of the police occasion can be strengthened and made to more closely align with the empirical realities of police-citizen interaction by bringing in the phenomenological approach of Wender (2008).
The problem statement has key terms or concepts embedded in it, and it is these terms or concepts which you will use to run down pertinent scholarly literature. There are a number of excellent full-text article databases available through OhioLink, including Electronic Journal Center, SocIndex, JSTOR, Sociological Collection, and others. (You can find these and others at the link provided above under the heading “Research Databases.”) You can also conduct keyword searches of books as well, both at the CSU library website as well as OhioLink. In this case, you could do keyword searches in various combinations, such as “police,” “police occasions,” “phenomenology,” “police-citizen,” “police-citizen interaction,” etc. You can also do an author search of William Sanders to find everything he has published on the topic. (By the way, both Sanders [1979] and Wender [2008] are in the bibliography of my policing book. The pertinent discussion is on pages 124-126.) The length of the literature review can vary enormously depending on the complexity of the argument and the facets of social reality encompassed in the problem statement. As a rough guide, the literature review should run at least two pages and no more than four pages.
Discussion – this is the heart of your paper. This is where you link the problem statement to the literature. (This could actually be labeled “Discussion and Findings” since you will be explaining how this new way of thinking about an area improves theory or practice related to it.) That is, as a result of the literature review you should be able to ferret out or distill the key components which will set the stage for returning to and fulfilling the promises you made in the introduction. This will lead to a “payoff,” that is, some new knowledge on the problem you framed from the very beginning. This new knowledge could be in the form of fine-tuning a conceptual or theoretical approach, of clarifying ambiguities in a particular area of understanding of police operations, of policy recommendations for new or changed approaches to some aspect of police work, etc. This section should be at least as big as the literature review, but often it is the longest part of the paper.
Conclusion – in this section you basically wrap things up. You may, for example, take some time to recap what you found but also explain what you could not do but which looks promising for future research. Science is a constantly unfolding process. This paper would merely be a first step on a long research/theory program. Be visionary. Look to the future here, articulated what else you would like to do along these lines and which avenues may bear fruit. This section may be brief, perhaps a page or so, but it could also be longer.
References or Bibliography – an alphabetical listing, by author, of all the scholarly resources you used in the paper. The minimal twelve references would likely take up only one page, but many students will go beyond this number to include possibly many more, in which case the bibliography could be quite large.


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