Criminal Justice

Final Project: Research Report [30%]

The Final Project is worth 30% of your total grade for this course.


After completing this module, including the learning activities, you will submit your research report on the topic that was the focus of your research proposal.


Your research report should have a title that speaks clearly to your topic, and that indicates a clear aim, purpose, and direction. Your research report should examine selected aspects of your topic by doing two things: [1] convey a detailed and sound grasp of the research findings, and [2] relate these findings to a wider theoretical context or explanatory framework that makes sense of the facts. That is, the report should not consist of a simple recitation of information, but should say something meaningful about the topic that advances understanding beyond the mere facts of the case. Two really good, if general, questions that you would do well to ask yourself are, first, “Who cares?” and, second, “What does it all mean?” These are questions you should reflect on regularly as you work on your project, and they are also questions that your Open Learning Faculty Member will be asking her/himself while reading your report.

In sum, complete your final report that distills your research findings, presents a clear and concise statement of findings, and analyzes the data upon which those findings are based. It should also adhere to the following:

  1. Include a description and discussion of your research questions and objectives.
  2. Show how your research builds on existing knowledge in your particular area. A brief overview of the pertinent literature, and what others have said about your topic or area of investigation, is important.
  3. What evidence do you have that speaks to your research questions or objectives? Describe your methods and methodology in gathering this evidence.
  4. Outline the approach you used. What kind of already published data was useful to your study? What specific instruments did you use?
  5. Demonstrate how the data you gathered addresses your research questions and objectives.
  6. Provide a rationale for the methods that you used [i.e., your methodology].
  7. Describe the contribution your project makes to our understanding of your topic/area/community. Do your findings shed new light on things? How? What are the implications of your findings?

Informed Consent

You will need to obtain informed consent for your research. Informed consent refers to the practice of securing consent from research participants by first offering full disclosure of the nature of the research in which they are to participate. Doing so secures participants’ awareness of their participation in the research, and underscores their right to withdraw their consent at any time. Consent can be obtained through verbal or written form. If obtaining consent verbally, be sure that you have read the entirety of the consent form to the participant and that the participant understands what he or she is agreeing to.

Be prepared to provide signed consent forms to your Open Learning Faculty Member if requested.

The notes you prepare from the interview must anonymize the participants [i.e., obfuscate their true identities, such as by using a pseudonym], and must be securely stored in a password-protected file. Questions prepared and asked during the interview are to be appended to your assignment.

Consent Forms

See the Forms tab to access and download the following two forms to complete this assignment.

Writing Guidelines

What You Need to Submit for This Assignment

For this assignment, submit a 5200–6000 word paper, using one-inch margins, Times New Roman 12-point font, and double spacing. The cover page should include your name, your Open Learning Faculty Member’s name, the course name and number, the date of submission, and the title of your study.

Organization and Style

Keep in mind the following elements of organization and style as you prepare your report:

  • A research report of any kind typically contains an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. These three parts should be well integrated.
    • The introduction informs the reader of your topic, the argument that you will be setting forth, and the conclusion at which you will arrive. All these things need to be stated at the outset of a scholarly piece of writing. It is quite vexing for a professor to pick up an essay or report, read halfway through it, and still be guessing what the argument is supposed to be. The introduction should be between ½–1 ½ pages, depending on the length of the paper.
    • The body should consist of an exposition of the data necessary to support your argument, which you demonstrate, through careful interpretation or explanation, to be plausible. In other words, your data and argumentation should fit within an explanatory framework. The body of an essay or report is the longest part, and consists of numerous paragraphs of varying length, each one encapsulating a distinct aspect or element of the wider argument.
    • The conclusion reiterates your argument in concise terms, and informs the reader of the significance of what you had to say. A conclusion should be between 1–1 ½ pages in length.
  • In addition to containing a coherent argument, an essay or report needs to be clearly written and grammatically polished. Poor syntax, vague language, and grammatical errors all reduce the quality of a piece of writing, and will result in a lower grade. Employ formal language, and express yourself clearly. Use jargon only where necessary, and always avoid colloquialisms. Also, avoid hackneyed phrases and clichés, and do not use contractions. Write economically, and do not use three words where one would suffice.
  • Your writing should employ a clear expository style. Therefore, limit your use of imagery and metaphors, and avoid writing pretentiously—better a boring paper than a pretentious one! Ask yourself the following: Did I use concise language? Is my argument clear? Are there any grammatical errors? Did I make good use of published sources? Did I support my claims with evidence? Have I contradicted myself at any point? Do my conclusions follow from my arguments? Remember to get a second opinion, and have a friend read your paper. If that person has trouble understanding your argument, your Open Learning Faculty Member likely will too.

Grading Rubric

You will be graded using the following criteria.

  Needs significant work








Argument Ideas are not apparent; details are imprecise. Concepts are misinterpreted or used inaccurately. No clear relationship is shown between data and theory. Ideas are present but are not fully developed. The relationship between data and theory is poor and not entirely clear. Ideas are clearly stated and argued in an organized fashion. The paper shows some understanding of the relationship[s] between data and theory. Ideas are interesting, perceptive, and articulated clearly. The paper shows a clear understanding of the relationship[s] between data and theory.
Evidence Examples and quotations are not given, or are very poorly selected. Quotations are not analyzed, and their connection to claims is unclear. Evidence is lacking, or does not support the argument. Examples and evidence are present but are limited or poorly chosen, and may also be repetitive. Quotations are not sufficiently discussed or explained. Evidence does not fully support the argument. Appropriate examples and quotations from texts are used. Any quotations included are analyzed. Details are appropriate and help to clarify. Evidence supports the argument. Pertinent and insightful examples and quotations from published sources are used. Ideas are introduced and analyzed effectively. Connections to the thesis/broader claim are clear.
Organization The order is unclear or haphazard overall. At the paragraph level, topic sentences or conclusions are missing; focus is lacking. The order and arrangement are weak; the opening provides some direction; the closure is weak; a controlling idea is missing or not sustained. Paragraphs may be unfocused, develop more than one idea, or not develop ideas sufficiently. The order is planned and purposeful; the opening provides direction; the closure reinforces unity; coherence is maintained. Paragraphs are focused and unified. The overall order and arrangement is skillful; the opening is effective and the closure is solid and persuasive. Each body paragraph develops a focused idea in a clear, coherent manner. The logical connection between all ideas is apparent.
Style Language choices are inadequate, over-generalized or inaccurate; syntax is uncontrolled; sense of purpose is missing. Evidence indicates that the paper has not been carefully proofread, and the multiple errors are distracting. Language choices are limited; syntax may be awkward; voice is not maintained; sense of purpose is weak. Grammar/sentence errors impact the meaning and distract the reader. Language choices are appropriate; syntax is effective; voice is maintained; sense of purpose is sustained. A few grammar or sentence structure errors may exist but do not detract from the meaning. Language choices are skillful and considered; syntax is polished; voice is clear and effective; sense of purpose is strong. The paper has been carefully proofread to eliminate problems with sentence structure and grammar, typos, etc.
Sources The paper either does not employ any outside sources, minimally uses sources provided by the Open Learning Faculty Member, or relies exclusively on non-scholarly outside sources. The paper uses only a few of the sources provided in class, or does not go beyond what has been provided by the Open Learning Faculty Member when required to do additional research. Evidence is used from many sources, but the author relies heavily on a more limited set of sources. Some effort is made to go beyond the material presented in class. If outside sources are used, they are primarily non-scholarly [i.e., intended for a general audience] and/or web-based. Evidence is used from a wide range of sources. When required, the author also consults scholarly books, websites, or journal articles derived from independent research.
Overall Impression The assignment fails to address the main question or issue and/or is clearly improvised, and the author has not retained any information from the course. The assignment does not successfully address the main question or issue. The author has retained some information from the course, but does not fully understand its meaning or context and cannot clearly convey her/his understanding. The assignment competently addresses the main question or issue, but does not offer additional insight into the subject. The author has learned a great deal in class and is able to communicate this knowledge to others. The assignment directly addresses the main question or issue, and adds new insight to the subject that transcends course material. The author has retained nearly all of the knowledge presented in class. The student is able to synthesize this knowledge in new ways and relate to material not covered in the course.


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