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Academic Skills for Criminal Justice Studies

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Personal Development
Wordcount: 1969 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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In order to be able to be successful within one’s studies of criminal justice one must develop a large variety of different academic skills. The skills in which one learns throughout their study are completely transferable which gives one an advance step onto the field of criminal justice, but also the skills acquired will not only be academic but practical, personal as interpersonal skills in which one can also be transferred into different situations once one graduates. 

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The first skill in which one must develop and obtain in order to be a successful criminal justice student is the skill of being able to write a successful academic essay. Within the course one will be expected to write a large number of essays on various topics within the field, knowing how to plan, structure and write an essay academically will help largely. Due to essay’s being one of, if not the most popular method of assessment, featuring as coursework and within exam questions, one must be able to perfect their essay writing skills (Finch & Fafinski, 2016). One must understand that the way in which an essay is marked is never usually based on just the context and the essay structure and flow. In order to write a good essay, the student must be able to decipher what exactly is being asked of them from the question, pick out key words and be able to conduct effective research and extract relevant information in order for one to produce a well-structured and focused essay. The essay must address the question through various different as well as demonstrating that one has done a large amount of analysis. Although it is largely important that one is aware of the context of the essay one must also know how to extract key information, and what to do with it in order to write an effective essay. Although there is not a direct need for essay writing within criminal justice, it will help one develop pro-active skills in researching. The skill of essay writing does not only teach one how to write essays and extract information, but it also helps to extend one’s knowledge on that specific subject, it helps to evolve one’s general vocabulary and also it helps develop one’s skills in providing a reasoned argument and discussing issues articulately. These skills to which are transferable to the work place once one has graduated. The skill of being able to choose the right words for the situation, to communicate effectively often contribute towards goals within the workplace, and these skills are all developed through the writing of essays (Crow, et al., 2008).

Another academic skill in which is important in becoming a successful criminal justice student would be the ability to gather one’s own data. Within criminal justice researchers conduct studies to gather their own data around the levels of crime, and around the levels of various different aspects within the criminal justice system. In order to understand how one should gather data, one much understand that there are different types of generating data, one must be able to tell the difference between different types of sampling methods, and how each one is suited to the subject in which is being researched. Within criminal justice research has the aim of finding out solutions to various questions, and situations. Whilst studying one must at some point conduct some form of research to which is directly related to crime. Research can be anything from opening a textbook and extracting data to carrying out much more sophisticated research involving analysis of documentaries such as law case documents, newspapers or even some media sources.  One must be able to acknowledge that each different way of collecting data, such as questionnaires and focus groups, and each type of gathering data will provide one with a more suited response to the research topic. Although the results of gathering data may not always be easy analyse, this skill will become extremely helpful during the course of the studying. Being able to look at research papers, journal articles and text books to pick out the key information and use it to support points will prove highly important in cases of doing coursework. This skill will also be transferable into work within various different industries, no matter if said individual chooses to pursue a career within criminal justice (Finch & Fafinski, 2016).

A highly important skill in which one must develop when studying criminal justice in order to be successful is the ability to analyse quantitative research. Quantitative research is research in which gathers numerical data about a specific topic.  This type of data is used largely within criminal justice, to provide figures and statistics from policy all the way through to police statistics. However, there is a common misconception to which students usually become victims of and that is that quantative analysis requires one to have some level of mathematical expertise. This does not always happen to be the case. In order to analysis the data correctly one must be able to draw conclusions and key points from anything found within the conducted research. One must be able to interpret the outcomes and data found from the different statistical tests as well as understand and evaluate published research based upon quantitative analysis. This skill will not only be helpful throughout the duration of one’s degree but it will also be helpful when one goes to work within the industry, this being due to the nature of criminal justice, and the heavy weight of statistics publish and used within the industry to help make changes, put policies in place and to help show in which area’s certain aspects are working and in which area’s improvements need to be made. Therefore, this skill is highly transferable and will later be useful making it an important skill to develop and have to be successful within studying criminal justice (Cottrell, 2013).

In relation another key skill is the ability to be able to extra and conclude information from qualitative research. Qualitative research is research in which covers non-numeric information such as interviews, witness testimonies, and other aspects that are not numerical. The ability to understand the key principles that relate to qualitative analysis is a key skill in which should be developed by criminal justice students, as it will provide useful within one’s studies as well as within one’s chosen career path (Treadwell, 2013).

Moreover, a highly important skill to which one must have is the ability to reference and avoid plagiarism.  This skill is disparagingly important due to the nature of criminal justice, and how throughout the course one will be required various times to critically consider and read the work of other whilst providing an analysis of the said work. One must meticulously distinguish between the ideas of the author and the idea to which they have put forward as well as any arguments and research data that have been put forward by authors (Burns & Sinfield, 2016). In order to avoid claiming other individuals work and idea’s as one’s own one must become familiar with the system of referencing. Without said references one may become vulnerable to accusations of plagiarism. Plagiarism can be defined as the act of claiming some one else’s ideas as one’s own work. If one is suspected of plagiarism then it will be taken with extreme seriousness, with investigations conducted and penalties applying, which will result in the student’s success being limited.  One’s ability reference correctly will become something to which will help said individual become successful during the course. In order for referencing to be understood one must understand when to use references, how citations work, and how to reference sources correctly throughout one’s work and provide a correct reference list/bibliography. Although the skill of referencing is not necessarily transferable for after one’s course, the skill will provide highly important when it comes to studying towards one’s degree. Within criminal justice referencing documents like legislations, laws and policies is highly important in backing up argument points within essays, presentations and debates (Joyce, 2013).

The final skill in which one must perfect in order to be a successful criminal justice student is the skill of being able to revise and bring this information into examinations. It is important that one learns the ways in which revision works for them, as the marks in which one will gain from the exams in which one takes will make a very large and significant contribution towards the outcome and grade in which one graduates with so it is largely important for one to be able to complete the examination to the best of one’s own ability. That being said, it’s important to note that when it comes to examination techniques and skills it is not always covered within lectures. There are various misconceptions that are made when it comes to revision techniques, a key point that is missed is that everyone should be revising in a way in which works for them rather than the way in which may they are suggested. Most often students tend to use the standard technique of re-reading and re-writing up lecture notes, looking at lecture slides and assuming that this is going to work when there are various other ways in which one should an dcoule be revising that would suit one’s learning style. It is important that one must be able to plan out the time in which one spends revising, use the module syllabus to provide support on the area’s in which one should be focusing and work in a way in which suits one’s ability. It is detrimental that in order to be a successful criminal justice student one must understand the ways of working and studying that suit their brain and provide them with the best possible outcome (Finch & Fafinski, 2016).

To conclude, there are a large number of skills in which are needed in order to be a successful criminal justice student. These skills are not limited and may not always be transferable however usually are transferable. In order to be a successful criminal justice student, it has become apparent that one must be able to write academically, which will prove one with various transferable skills to which will be helpful after studying. One must be able to gather data that is relevant and analyse said data, whether that be quantitative data in which provides one with numerical information, or qualitative data, in which provides one with information such as thoughts, feelings and opinions. One must also be able to reference and ensure that they are not committing plagiarism within their work.  Although each one of these skills will contribute towards being a successful criminal justice student, there are a vast amount of other skills in which should be developed in order to become the most successful student one can be.


Burns, T. & Sinfield, S., 2016. Essiential Study Skills: The complete guide to sucess at university. s.l.:Sage .

Cottrell, S., 2013. The study skills handbook. London: Palgrave Macmillian.

Crow, Iain & Semmens, 2008. Researching Crimingology. London: Open University Press.

Finch, E. & Fafinski, S., 2016. Criminology Skills. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Joyce, P., 2013. Criminal Justice: an introduction. 2nd ed. s.l.:Routeledge.

Treadwell, J., 2013. Criminology The Essentials. 2nd Edition ed. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.


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