Do officers with body cameras have reduced use of force incidents compared to officers without body cameras?”
In this assignment, you’ll be introducing your topic, and identifying the problem that you’ll be investigating in your research proposal (e.g., the problem statement).
MY TOPIC IS: “do officers with body cameras have reduced use of force incidents compared to officers without body cameras?”
This part of the research proposal is discussed in the first section of the ‘Guidelines for the Research Proposal’, which I’ve cut and pasted below. Please refer to
this for more information on what I’m expecting, including what content you should include (e.g., a thesis/problem statement), and how it should be presented (e.g.,
font size/type, margins, length, etc.) Note that this will be a draft that I’ll make comments on, and you’ll incorporate what you write for this assignment (after
revising them in light of my comments) into the final research proposal. That said, it should still be proofread, gramatically correct, and otherwise complete and
Guidelines for the introduction/problem statement:
Your introduction and problem statement section should be about a page long, double spaced, size 12 Times New Roman font, with 1″ margins. Bring the reader into your
topic, show that there’s a field of research in that area, and make it clear why it is important to study it. Make sure that you actually do identify the problem
you’ll be examining.
In this section, you should introduce your topic to the reader. Follow the format you see in the journal articles, telling the audience why anyone should be interested
in your research question. This section should be about one full page, maybe two. This section should not be a long sermon on your personal feelings about the issue.
Rather, it should be a brief statement establishing that there is a field of research in this area, and making clear why this is important. You can also establish that
this topic affects our life and the criminal justice system at some level and, therefore, should be investigated. The bullet points below may be useful in guiding your
thinking/writing on this section.
What is a problem statement?
A problem statement (also called a thesis statement) points your reader to the exact problem (and question) you’ll be examining.
This might be a single sentence, or a short paragraph, depending on your writing style.
The problem statement must reflect your research question and its significance. It is more like a compact form of introduction. For example:
Problem Statement: “This research proposal will examine whether prison boot camp programs are more effective at reducing recidivism than regular prison sentences. Boot
camps are typically shorter in length than standard prison sentences, and if they are more effective, this would be important both in terms of reducing crime and
potential resource savings.”
Let break this down into its parts:
Topic: prison boot camp programs and recidivism
Question: (Is there a causal link?): Are boot camps more effective at reducing recidivism than regular prison?
Importance: Lower recidivism can reduce crime and save money.
What am I (as a reader) expecting from your introduction?
You must convince me that you have discovered a research problem that is worth my consideration.
If you present a research problem that keeps me wondering, “What is it that you want to examine?” or “Why should I care?”, that means you have failed to attract my
attention. Make sure you’re clear on what it is you want to do.
You should state some ‘gap’ in knowledge that your proposed study would fill (if you actually did the study). This will be fleshed out once you’ve had time to complete
the literature review later on, but for now you should have a basic understand about how your research question contributes to the field. To use the boot camp
example, the ‘gap’ the proposed study fills is knowing whether boot camps work better than standard prison at reducing recidivism.
Are you assuming that the reader knows about your research problems?
Please NEVER assume that the reader would know about your research problems.
You can expect the reader to be college educated, but not an expert in your topic (or even criminal justice/criminology!). The reader will not know something unless
you tell them or it is common knowledge (e.g., the Sun sets in the West, water freezes at 32 degrees F, etc.). Note that any statements about facts (e.g., ‘crime rates
have been increasing over the last 10 years’; ‘drug courts provide more lenient sentences than traditional courts’) MUST be supported with citations to studies or
other research proving this. If I write “Cite?” in my comments back to you for a specific sentence, it means you need to find a source to cite to support your
What are the elements in the introduction?
An opening statement about the topic — get the reader interested!
Brief context of past research (What’s been done?)
Gap in knowledge (What’s missing?)
Importance of study (Why study it?)
Problem statement (What will the proposed study do?)
Again, the introduction should be about a (full) page or two long, and be a solid introduction to your research statement/thesis/question. You will be fleshing this
out more as we go along, so for this assignment I don’t expect you to have a complete and thorough understanding of your topic just yet.
Finally, please make sure you’re backing up any fact-based claims with citations to research. Sentences like, “Crime has been increasing over the last 10 years”,
“Americans believe in punishment over treatment”, and “Jails are overcrowded” all need to have citations to some kind of reliable source (a government report, a
scientific article, a major news organization’s story) to support them. Without a citation, you’re just making things up without evidence (i.e., pulling it out of
your butt), and that isn’t appropriate for a scientific research paper.
The above guidelines are part of the larger assignment guidelines sheet that will be made available to you later on in the semester. Until then, don’t worry about
future parts of the paper, just focus on the intro/problem statement for now.