This is a work in progress and is incomplete.  It is provided to my students as a research help, but you should check with your professor to verify that a specific article is acceptable for a specific project.  If you have helpful comments, please send them to me at

Students in my classes are almost always required to find and use "scholarly" journal articles when working on research projects.  Here is a brief explanation why these sources are considered so important when doing research.

Scholarly journal articles

Scholarly journal articles are favored as information sources because they have undergone a review process before being published. The standards for material published in academic (scholarly) journals are higher than trade publications because they serve different functions. Material published in scholarly journals are considered original contributions to the literature and they may be theoretical works or empirical research. These articles are typically on the longer side (10 – 40 pages) and are usually fairly dense reading. Before being published, they are "blind" reviewed by other scholars knowledgeable in that particular area and are rejected if they are fatally flawed. These articles are longer on average than trade journal articles, and are read more often by serious scholars and academics. Research methodology is explained in some depth, is usually rather rigorous, and generally includes a critique of its shortcomings. There are often statistical analyses in the articles (although there are some journals that tend to specialize in less statistical articles).

Examples of Scholarly Journals in the area of Criminal Justice
Justice Quarterly
Crime and Delinquency
Journal of Criminal Justice
American Journal of Criminal Justice
British Journal of Criminology
Journal of Criminology and Criminal Law
Police Quarterly
American Journal of Police

Trade Journals

"Trade" journal is a term that I use to represent professional publications produced for the practitioners in the field. Most police officers and managers (as well as other CJ personnel) do not have time to read lengthy and difficult research articles on a regular basis unless it applies directly to some project they are working on (for that matter, neither do professors, but that’s another story J). These publications are able to provide quick updates and information to officers in the field without the degree of detail or sophistication seen in scholarly articles. They are often very good sources of information related to current practices and commonly provide examples of various programs being used by criminal justice agencies.

Trade magazines sometimes provide reviews of current practices and research, but they also publish many opinion/editorial pieces. Another common article type in these journals describe how an agency is addressing a particular problem or idea (a case study).  Sometimes this kind of publication will give a synopsis of research findings that are published in greater detail in a more scholarly format.  Also, these magazines tend to have a great deal of positive spin, report favorable results based purely on anecdotal evidence, and publish fewer articles that are of a critical nature.  The only "reviewer" for the articles is often the editor/editorial staff and sometimes other professionals in the field; but rarely are articles judged on their scientific merit. The standards of validity of scholarship are not generally very high in these publications (although this varies as it does with scholarly journals) and commonly rely on anecdotal evidence. Articles are typically short, often only 2-4 pages and give little or no attention to descriptions of methodology. Statistics are typically low level (e.g. percentages), if contained at all.  

Examples of Trade Journals in Criminal Justice
Police Chief
National Sheriff
ABA Journal
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Corrections Today
Law Enforcement News
Publications with "digest" or "news" in the title

Popular Literature

Most current events information that people become aware of is through "popular literature" or "popular media".  These are the common, un-specialized, media outlets such as newsmagazines, newspapers, television news programs, etc.. The best of these sources are journalistic outlets that publish or air journalistic reporting and investigations.  Others are advocacy publications from advocacy groups.  These publications are purposely slanted to establish the strengths of the groups' various positions.  With the advent of the internet, access to information has increased dramatically.  Unfortunately, access to popular literature, particularly advocacy material, has increased to a much greater extent than access to scholarly literature.  Access to scholarly literature has certainly increased dramatically; but it still requires some discipline and time to search and find the appropriate material -- generally, much more time than it takes to obtain popular literature through a basic web search.

Rules of thumb in determining if you have a scholarly journal article:

This list is not comprehensive, but it give you some examples of the various journals that are commonly used in criminal justice research.  If I have misclassified any of these, please let me know.

Scholarly Journals 

Trade Journals

American Journal of Criminal Justice
American Bar Association Journal (ABA Journal)
American Journal of Police
American Criminal Justice Review
American Journal of Sociology
Corrections Digest

American Sociological Review

Corrections Today
British Journal of Criminology
Crime Control Digest
British Journal of Delinquency
Criminal Justice Newsletter
British Journal of Sociology
Criminal Law Bulletin
Canadian Journal of Criminology
Criminal Law Digest
Crime & Delinquency
Criminal Law Review

Criminal Justice and Behavior

FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

Crime, Law and Social Change

Federal Prisons
Criminal Justice and Ethics
Federal Probation

Criminal Justice Ethics

Criminal Justice Journal
Just. Professional
Criminal Justice Policy Review
Juv. And Family Court J.


Juv. Court Digest

Deviant Behavior

Law and Order
Family Violence
Law Enforcement J.

Howard J. of Criminal Justice

National Sheriff
Int’l J. of Comp. And App. Crim. Just.
NIJ Journal
Int’l. Journal of Criminology & Off. Ther.
NIJ (National Institute of Justice) Reports

International Journal of Criminology and Penology

Police Chief
International Journal of Offender Therapy and 

 Comparative Criminology

Police Forum
Int’l.Rev. of Victimology
The Publice Interest
Interpersonal Violence
Public Opinion Quarterly
J. of Correctional Educ.
J. of Crim. Just. Educ.
Many Publications with "review" or "digest" in the title.
J. of Police and Crim. Psyc.

Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice

Journal of Crime and Justice
Journal of Criminal Justice
Journal of Criminal Law

Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology

Journal of Drug Issues
Journal of Family Violence
Journal of Interpersonal Violence
Journal of Justice Issues
Journal of Law and Society
Journal of Legal Studies

Journal of Police Science and Administration

Journal of Quantitative Criminology
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Journal of Security Administration

Justice Quarterly

Justice System Journal
Law and Contemporary Problems
Law and Human Behavior
Law and Police Quarterly
Law and Social Inquiry
Law and Society Review
New England J. on Prison Law
Probation and Parole
Offender Rehab.
Police Quarterly

Police Studies

Policing and Society
Psychological Abstracts

Social Forces

Social Justice
Social Science Quarterly
Sociological Inquiry
Sociology and Social Research
Women and Criminal Justice

Copyright W. T. Jordan, 2000

Revised, 08/16/2006