Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Practical Approaches to Research Methodology

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Criminology

DESCRIPTION Students will be exposed to real-life case approaches to research methodology where qualitative and quantitative tools are employed in order to aid criminological analysis. Discussion on the methods and processes will be delivered.

The study-unit is essential for the acquisition of knowledge of how to carry out practical research. It will include the following:

i) Tools for Research: Qualitative, Quantitative, Spatial;
ii) Identifying the best method to employ: Qualitative (focus-groups, case-studies, archival, discourse analysis, narratives, etc);
iii) Identifying the best method to employ: Quantitiative (central tendency, descriptives, correlations, crosstabs, anova, etc);
iv) Identifying the best method to employ: Spatial (hotspots, SDEs, NNH, etc);
v) Tools Manual, semi-automated, fully automated research processes;
vi) W6H and the criminological research process;
vii) Identifying the best research tools for data collection, analysis, reporting, and presentation;
viii) Review and case studies based on: statistical software (SPSS/PSPP), spreadsheets (Excel), spatial (QGIS), lineage (Family Tree Maker), computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software (ATLAS.ti/NVivo), graphic (Paint), visualisation and gamification tools (Minecraft) and presentation tools (SmartDraw/Powerpoint);
ix) Review of online tools: (STATAMAP/SEIS/Raosoft).

Study-Unit Aims:

i) To familiarise students with the hands-on approach to research methods employing real-world tools;
ii) To empower students on the process to choose the best method, tool and measure based on the approach employed;
iii) To familiarise students with the real-world data and how its is best employed;
iv) To empower students on the use of advanced tools;
v) To establish the process of interpreting results.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

i) use real-world data to employ the knowledge gained through the research methodologies study-unit;
ii) understand how the tools employed would allow students to appraise the technicalities behind qualitative, quantitative or spatial tools;
iii) understand how to employ the tools listed in the description;
iv) prepare a working process on how specific cases are tackled;
v) evaluate the best measures to use in their analysis, understand what data is like in the real world and how best to visualise it.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

i) compare and contrast between the different tools, identify the best measure to use, identify and choose the most appropriate tools;
ii) acquire knowledge and skills on the diverse methods and the input-analysis-output processing;
iii) develop a tool-based operational approach to criminological research;
iv) value the importance of low-end and and high-end technologies and their impacts on the researcher and the case under study;
v) explore ways in which to use the results for real-world decision-making.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Bachman R., & Schutt R.K., (2008), Fundamentals of Research in Criminology and Criminal Justice, SAGE Publications, Inc, ISBN: 9781412960526.
- Bryman, A. and Cramer, D. (1994). Quantitative Data Analysis for Social Scientists. London: Routledge.
- Dantzker M.L. & Hunter R.D., (2006), Research Methods for Criminology and Criminal Justice: A Primer, Second Edition, USA, Butterworth Heinemann ISBN-13:9780763736156.
- Formosa S., Scicluna S., Azzopardi J., Formosa Pace J., Calafato T., (2011), The Research Road We Make: Statistics for the Uninitiated, NSO, Valletta.
- Hagan, Frank E., (2006), Research methods in criminal justice and criminology, 7th ed., Allyn & Bacon.

Supplementary Readings:

- Azzopardi J., Formosa, S., Scicluna, S., and Willis, A., (Eds.) (2013). Key Issues in Criminology: JANUS III, University of Malta, Msida, Malta ISBN: 978-99957-834-4-0.
- Harris, M. B. (1998). Basic statistics for behavioural science research. (2nd ed.). USA: Allyn and Bacon.
- Jupp, V., Davies, P. and Francis, P. (2000). Doing criminological research. London: Sage Publications.
- Lengler R., Eppler M. (2007). Towards A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods for Management. IASTED Proceedings of the Conference on Graphics and Visualization in Engineering (GVE 2007), Clearwater, Florida, USA.
- Maxfield, M.G. and Babbie, E. (2006). Basics of research methods for criminal justice and criminology. USA: Thomson.

Tools text/manuals (online demos availability):

- Statistical software (SPSS/PSPP), spreadsheets (Excel), spatial (QGIS), lineage (Family Tree Maker), computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software (ATLAS.ti/NVivo), graphic (Paint), visualisation tools (Minecraft) and presentation tools (SmartDraw/Powerpoint)
- Online tools (STATAMAP/SEIS/Raosoft)


STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Practical

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Project SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Charlot Casha
Jeffrey Curmi
Gordon Sammut (Co-ord.)

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.