Effective: Late Fall 8-Week, 2018/2019

MSCJ 500: Research Design

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  Course Description

The study of applied research designs.  Data collection methods emphasized are observation and psychometry.  Both qualitative and quantitative data analysis methods are studied, with a strong emphasis on results interpretation.  Must be taken as a foundational course for the Master of Science in Criminal Justice.

Prerequisite: Graduate Standing

Proctored Exams: None


As part of TruitionSM, students will receive their course materials automatically as described below.


  •  Leedy, P. D., & Ormrod, J. E.. (2016). Practical Research: Planning and Design (11th). New York: Prentice Hall Publishers.  eText

Bookstore Information

Visit https://www.ccis.edu/bookstore.aspx for details.

eText Information

If a course uses an eText, (see Textbook information above) the book will be available directly in Desire2Learn (D2L) and through the VitalSource eText reader the Friday before the session begins, if registered for courses prior to that date.  Students will have a VitalSource account created for them using their CougarMail email address. Upon first login to VitalSource, students may need to verify their account and update their VitalSource password.  More information about how to use the VitalSource platform, including offline access to eTexts, can be found in D2L.  Students that would like to order an optional print-on-demand copy of eligible eTexts can do so through the VitalSource bookshelf at an additional cost.  Once orders are placed, it can take approximately five to seven business days for students to receive their print-on-demand books.

Physical Course Materials Information

Students enrolled in courses that require physical materials will receive these materials automatically at the address on file with Columbia College.  Delivery date of physical materials is dependent on registration date and shipping location.  Please refer to confirmation emails sent from Ed Map for more details on shipping status.

Returns: Students who drop a course with physical course materials will be responsible for returning those items to Ed Map within 30 days of receipt of the order.  More specific information on how to do so will be included in the package received from Ed Map.  See here for Ed Map's return policy. Failure to return physical items from a dropped course will result in a charge to the student account for all unreturned items.

Note: Students who opt-out of having their books provided as part of TruitionSM are responsible for purchasing their own course materials.

  Course Overview

Mastering the language and tools of research are fundamental for success in a graduate degree program and in your careers. Every day we are bombarded with facts and figures and people citing “scientific research” as evidence to support different claims. As masters of the social sciences, people will look to you for advice on critical issues, or you will be the decider and have to weigh the evidence and choose appropriate courses of action.

This course will help you become critical consumers of research and better decision makers by having this knowledge. It will take you through the steps of the research process and give you the opportunity to take control of that process to examine and develop your own conclusions, so both you and others can be confident in the results.

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Complete a research design project to include the development of a research question, hypothesis, variable identification, data source, and analysis method.
  2. Describe and explain the various methods for Criminal Justice research, such as sampling techniques, survey instruments, content analysis, field research, and secondary analysis.
  3. Produce a literature review that demonstrates the ability to identify and use scholarly, peer-reviewed research and other credible/relevant source material.
  4. Distinguish between evaluation and prediction research as they are used in the Criminal Justice system.
  5. Describe and evaluate the importance of ethical issues associated with Criminal Justice research.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 900-1000 90-100%
B 800-899 80-89%
C 700-799 70-79%
F 0-699 0-69%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions (16) 240 24%
Writing Assignments (5) 250 25%
Midterm Exam 150 15%
Final Exam 150 15%
Research Proposal 210 21%
Total 1000 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Introduction Discussion -- Wednesday
Discussion 1 15 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 2 15
Writing Assignment 1 50 Sunday

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3 15 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 4 15
Writing Assignment 2 50 Sunday

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 15 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 6 15
Writing Assignment 3 50 Sunday

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 15 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 8 15
Midterm Exam 150 Sunday

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 9 15 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 10 15
Writing Assignment 4 50 Sunday

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 11 15 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 12 15
Writing Assignment 5 50 Sunday

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 13 15 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 14 15
Final Exam 150 Sunday

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 15 15 Wednesday/Saturday
Discussion 16 15
Research Proposal 210 Thursday
Total Points: 1000

  Assignment Overview


There will be an Introduction Discussion and sixteen (16) discussion questions in the course. Each week there will be 2 discussion questions, worth 15 points each. The initial posts should be completed by 11:59 p.m. CT, Wednesday of the assigned week. The word total for initial posts is a minimum of 250 words. In order to earn maximum points, you must post and then respond to at least two postings by other classmates, per question, due Saturday night at 11:59 p.m. CT. The words total for each response post is a minimum of 100 words. You will not be able to read other student responses until you have posted. Assessment of your post is based on how well it is written (spelling, grammar and organization count), how well you are able to support your conclusions with information from the assigned readings and how complete your post is. Your responses must add value to the content of the posting and be focused on research as opposed to merely agreeing with what was said. Please follow the APA writing style.

Writing Assignments

There are 5 Writing Assignments (in Weeks 1, 2, 3, 5&6), each worth 50 points, due by 11:59 p.m. CT Sunday of the assigned week. Format the assignment exactly as stated in your textbook. Take your time with each assignment. Several of your weekly assignments will act as drafts for your final paper. Please follow APA writing style.

Research Proposal

You will have to submit a proposal for a research project of interest to you and relevant to criminal justice. This assignment is worth 210 points. Your Research Proposal is meant to demonstrate your ability to apply the lessons of this course to your advanced studies in criminal justice. This should be an accumulation of all the work done over the entire course. The paper should include all of the below content and formatted in chapters, utilizing the template in the Content area:

  • Front Matter (15 points)
  • Chapter 1 (The Problem, p.45 in text)4-page minimum (60 points)
  • Chapter 2 (Literature Review, p.67 in text) 10-page minimum (60 points)
  • Chapter 3 (Methodology, Quan-Qual-or Mixed)4-page minimum (60 points)
  • End Matter (15 points)
Your Research Proposal is due in the Dropbox by 11:59 p.m. CT on Thursday of Week 8. Early submissions are accepted and appreciated. Please follow APA writing style.


There will be two exams in this course, the Midterm Exam and the Final Exam. Each exam is to be taken through the Quizzes area of the course by the assigned due date. Both exams are non-proctored and will be open book/open note ones. Each will have a 75-minute time limit with a 5-minute grace period.  Answers submitted after that time will not be scored. Each exam will be activated on Monday at 12:01 a.m. CT and will remain open until Sunday at 11:59 p.m. CT of the assigned week.

Each exam must be completed and submitted by the due date. Each exam will include 50 multiple choice questions, each worth 1 point, and 4 short answer questions, each worth 25 points. The Midterm Exam will consist of questions from chapters 1-5 and will take place during Week 4. The Final Exam will consist of questions from chapters 6-11 and will take place during Week 7.

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.


Leedy & Ormrod:

  • Chapter 1: “The Nature and Tools of Research”
  • Chapter 2: “The Problem: The Heart of the Research Process”

APA Paper Template

Introduction Discussion

Introduce yourself in our "virtual classroom." Please include what part of the country (or world) you are from, your profession, interests, and any other information that can help us get to know you better. There is no minimum word count for this posting. There is no requirement to respond to one another, but there is an expectation that you will at least read each other’s introductions.

Discussion 1
The term “research” is one of the most abused words in the world of academia. We constantly claim to be researching something, but very seldom are. Using your text as a reference, explain what research is, what the characteristics of research are, and why you think research is so misunderstood.
Discussion 2
Using your knowledge of what research is and the guidelines listed in Chapter 2, find an important criminal justice question that interests you and that can be answered using research as defined in this class. Describe the problem and state your subsequent research problem. You will be using this research problem throughout the course, so make sure that it is well defined and answerable. Finally, what influenced you to choose this topic?
Writing Assignment 1
Using the research problem that you have identified in your discussion question and the Practical Application on page 46 in your text, create the first section of your proposal by answering the first seven associated questions. You must complete the assignment in no more than two pages.

Leedy & Ormrod:

  • Chapter 3: “Review of the Related Literature”
Discussion 3
Research proposals generally have a section or chapter that describes the theoretical perspectives and previous research findings related to the associated research problem. What role does the literature review play in your proposal? Describe five benefits you believe will be associated with your literature review.
Discussion 4

Conducting the literature search for your literature review can be a very frustrating process. Page 60 in your text describes a concrete and effective method for brainstorming. For your posting, write out your research problem and sub-problems; then identify the associated key words or phrases. From there you can translate your key words into specific topics you need to learn more about. Complete the assignment as shown in Figure 3.1 in your text and attach it to your narrative post. Did you try the key words in a library search?

Describe the five general resources for locating related literature referred to in your text and describe how you will utilize them in your literature search. Make sure you include the keywords you utilized. Did they return what you expected? And how would you change/improve them?

Writing Assignment 2

Complete a Literature Review of four (4) sources related to your research question. Use the Review of the Literature example on pages 70-73 of your text and make sure that you answer the following questions, per source reviewed:

  • What is the research question?
  • What is the theoretical framework?
  • Briefly describe the methodology.
  • Briefly describe the results.
  • Briefly describe how this research pertains to your project.

Leedy & Ormrod:

  • Chapter 4: “Planning your Research Project”
Discussion 5
What is data? Describe what data is in research and the difference between primary and secondary data. Provide specific examples of data that are related to the independent and dependent variable that you included in your research question. Will these data be available through primary or secondary sources? Will they help you to answer your question?
Discussion 6
Validity and reliability are integral parts of measurement in research. Describe the purpose of both validity and reliability, and explain why a measurement instrument must have both. Link these concepts to your research question and provide specific examples of how you will ensure that the elements of validity and reliability are met.
Writing Assignment 3

Very often researchers become so excited about their topic, they fail to look closely at their topic and determine whether it is feasible to conduct the study. For example, trying to understand the link between childhood poverty and criminal behavior may be beyond the scope of your ability. Utilizing the checklist on pages 108-110 of your text, determine whether your proposed research project is realistic and practical. Format each of the 14 questions in the same format as presented in the text. Include a short concluding paragraph documenting whether your project is feasible or not.


Leedy & Ormrod:

  • Chapter 5: “Writing the Research Proposal”
Discussion 7
Before you can actually begin to write the narrative of your proposal, you need to understand what constitutes a proposal. Using your text as a reference, explain the characteristics of a proposal. What do you think are the most important characteristics in a proposal and what do you think the proposal should avoid?  Specifically, how will you address the important characteristics in the proposal that you are writing?
Discussion 8
More often than not a research proposal is rejected based on a myriad of reasons. Using your text as a reference, explain the five main weaknesses that a research proposal may experience and provide an example of each. As you go through the list, do you feel that your proposal may suffer from any of those weaknesses?
Midterm Exam

The midterm exam is to be taken through the Quizzes area of the course by the assigned due date. The midterm exam is not proctored; it is an open book/open notes exam. It has a 75-minute time limit with a five-minute (5) grace period. Answers submitted after that time will not be scored. It will be available on Monday at 12:01 a.m. CT of week 4 and will remain open until Sunday at 11:59 p.m. CT of week 4. It must be completed and submitted by the due date. It will include fifty (50) multiple choice questions worth one (1) point each, and four (4) short answer questions, each worth twenty-five (25) points. The Midterm Exam will consist of questions from chapters one through five (1-5).


Leedy & Ormrod:

  • Chapter 6: “Descriptive Research”
  • Chapter 7: “Experimental, Quasi-Experimental, and Ex Post Facto Designs
  • Chapter 8: “Analyzing Quantitative Data”
Discussion 9
In the realm of quantitative research, there are four common research designs: Observations Studies, Correlation Research, Development Designs, and Survey Research. Provide a brief description of each as well as the pros and cons of each. Based on your chosen research topic, which of the four research designs would work the best? Why?
Discussion 10
Provide a brief description of Experimental, Quasi-Experimental, and Ex Post Facto Designs and explain the pros and cons of each. Based on your chosen research topic, which of the research designs would work the best? Why?
Writing Assignment 4
If your research involves quantitative data then you will probably integrate some sort of statistical analysis. You will be able to gain a clearer understanding of your various statistics and statistical procedures by putting them in research reports. Utilizing the guidance on pages 245-246 of your text, clarify which quantitative statistical analysis will be most appropriate for your study. Answer each of the questions completely and make sure you explain your plan in full detail for question eight.

Leedy & Ormrod:

  • Chapter 9: “Qualitative Research Methods”
  • Chapter 10: “Historical Research”
  • Chapter 11: “Analyzing Qualitative Data”
Discussion 11
In the realm of qualitative research, there are five common research designs: Case Study, Ethnography, Phenomenological Study, Grounded Theory Study, and Content Analysis. Provide a brief description of each as well as the pros and cons of each. Based on your chosen research topic, which of the five research designs would work the best and why?
Discussion 12
A large part of research is the locating and utilization of historical data. Once this data is found, the researcher must determine the validity of his or her data based on external and internal evidence. What are external and internal evidence and how do they pertain to your research?
Writing Assignment 5
Very often researchers become so excited about their topic, they fail to look at all of the research options available. One may set out to do a quantitative study and refuse to look at any other approach. Utilizing the checklist on pages 271-272 of your text, determine whether your proposed research project could be studied from a qualitative approach. Answer all 13 questions in the same format as presented in the text. Include a short conclusion paragraph documenting whether your project will be studied qualitatively or quantitatively.

Leedy & Ormrod:

  • Chapter 12: “Mixed-Methods Designs”
Discussion 13
In the realm of mixed methods research, there are five common research designs: Convergent Design, Embedded Design, Exploratory Design, Explanatory Design, and Multiphase Iterative Designs. Provide a brief description of each as well as the pros and cons of each. Based on your chosen research topic, which of the five research designs would work the best and why?
Discussion 14
Now that you have a more in-depth understanding of qualitative and quantitative research, you may be thinking that a mixed methodology is for you. There are several good reasons to conduct a mixed-methods study. What are some of the reasons to choose a mixed methodology for your research? Based on your chosen research topic, which of the four common mixed methodology research designs would work the best and why?
Final Exam

The final exam is to be taken through the Quizzes area of the course by the assigned due date. It is not proctored; it will be an open book/open notes exam. It will have a 75-minute time limit with a five-minute (5) grace period. Answers submitted after that time will not be scored. It will be activated on Monday at 12:01 a.m. CT of week 7 and will remain open until Sunday at 11:59 p.m. CT of week 7. It must be completed and submitted by the due date. It will include fifty (50) multiple choice questions worth one (1) points each, and four (4) short answer questions, each worth twenty-five (25) points. The Final Exam will consist of questions from chapters six through twelve (6-12).


Leedy & Ormrod:

  • Chapter 13: “Planning and Preparing the Final Research Report”
Discussion 15
What is the purpose of front matter and end matter? Is it necessary for your proposal? And are there any components of front matter and end matter that APA does not utilize?
Discussion 16
Tracking your resources is not a required component of research. However, it can make the compilation of your research much easier in the long term. Using Appendix A as a resource, create an Excel spreadsheet (or something comparable) with five of your resources and post it. Does tracking your resources make it easier to organize your data? Why or why not?
Research Proposal
Submit a proposal for a research project of interest to you and relevant to the criminal justice field which addresses the requirements listed below. Your research proposal is meant to demonstrate your ability to apply the lessons of this class to your advanced studies in criminal justice.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.

Plagiarism and Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a cumulative process that begins with the first college learning opportunity. Students are responsible for knowing the Academic Integrity policy and procedures and may not use ignorance of either as an excuse for academic misconduct. Columbia College recognizes that the vast majority of students at Columbia College maintain high ethical academic standards; however, failure to abide by the prohibitions listed herein is considered academic misconduct and may result in disciplinary action, a failing grade on the assignment, and/or a grade of "F" for the course.

Additionally, all required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Columbia College is committed to creating a learning environment that meets the needs of its diverse student body. If you anticipate or experience any barriers to learning, communicate your concerns with the instructor. In addition to speaking with the instructor, the following resources are available to ensure an opportunity to learn in an inclusive environment that values mutual respect.

  • For students with disabilities/conditions who are experiencing barriers to learning or assessment, contact the Student Accessibility Resources office at (573) 875-7626 or sar@ccis.edu to discuss a range of options to removing barriers in the course, including accommodations.
  • For students who are experiencing conflict which is impacting their educational environment, contact the Office of Student Conduct at studentconduct@ccis.edu or (573) 875-7877.
  • For students who have concerns related to discrimination or harassment based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy or parental status, please contact the Title IX Office at titleixcoordinator@ccis.edu. More information can be found at http://www.ccis.edu/policies/notice-of-non-discrimination-and-equal-opportunity.aspx

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted.

There will be a 10% deduction for every 24 hours that an assignment is late, up to 48 hours (for example 10% of available points will be subtracted for a paper turned in 1 to 24 hours late, 20% for papers turned in from 25 to 48 hours late). Any submission after 48 hours will not receive credit. No assignments will be accepted after the close of class on Saturday of week 8.

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Technology Solutions Center, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. If you have technical problems with the VitalSource eText reader, please contact VitalSource. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.