The research essay plan is intended to provide structure for the research essay due at the end of the semester. The plan should include an outline of the topics that will be covered in the essay, where in the essay each topic will be located, as well as at least 8 references in total relevant to the topics. Students will receive feedback on their essay plan in time to help complete their final research essay.
What you need to include in the essay plan:
• 8 topic sentences
• At least one reference per topic sentence
♣ Police history – Australian policing remains strongly influenced by our colonial history. Do you think this is true?
♣ Police training and culture – Improved police training offers the best way to address police misconduct. Do you agree?
♣ Policing strategies – Zero tolerance policing is often spoken of by politicians and media commentators as a favourable strategy in reducing crime. Why is this and does scholarly research support such claims?
♣ Weapons and the use of force – Electronic stun devices and other ‘less-lethal’ weapons are marketed as offering unmitigated benefits to both police and public safety. Are these claims valid? What are the problems associated with the use of these devices?
♣ Corruption and accountability – Why are drug squads regularly implicated in instances of corruption? What can police leaders do to reduce the risk of corruption in these units?
What to do:
1) Decide on a research question (listed above). This will most likely be in the area that you selected for the paper summary assessment. If you want to change and select a question from one of the other listed research areas that is fine also.
2) Brainstorm some ideas. This involves writing down as many different ideas, theories, concepts and examples that relate to your chosen essay question as possible. You have already completed some preliminary research into your topic as part of your paper summary and review, so there should be some ideas floating around your head already. Don’t rule anything out at this stage. You are not submitting this stuff – the point here is to get as many different ideas down as possible.
3) Research! Get some promising books out of the library and search online databases for relevant sources. Read, take notes and think critically about the information and ideas you are engaging with. Are they convincing? Why/why not? Note that this is a research exercise – as such you may use references from the set reading list and course textbook but these will not count towards the minimum 8 references required.
4) Start arranging your ideas into a coherent narrative. This means selecting those ideas that best illustrate how you think of and understand your topic. Pick those that seem the most relevant and important in constructing an argument and shedding light on your essay question.
5) Identify the main points that will comprise your argument. These should include what policing theories/concepts (e.g. colonial policing, broken windows theory, etc.) you will be discussing and how they relate to your essay question. All of your main points should be relevant to the essay question.
6) Use your main points to write at least 8 topic sentences. Topic sentences are statements of the main ideas that you intend to explain in your essay. They are the claims that support your argument, and usually are used as the opening sentence in each paragraph. The purpose of the remainder of the paragraph is to back up and elaborate upon the topic sentence.
Examples of topic sentences include:
• Community policing is popular but also vague and difficult to define.
• Resistance to community policing initiatives may come from officers working within police forces.
• There are a number of reasons why community policing may improve police-public relations.
7) Following each topic sentence, briefly indicate what research you are going to use to demonstrate your point. Include a reference to at least one scholarly source.
Topic sentence: Community policing is popular but also vague and difficult to define.
Evidence/research: To demonstrate this point I plan to compare different definitions of community policing from Martin (2012) and Skolnick (2005).
• Topic sentence: The effectiveness of community policing is much debated amongst policing scholars.
• Evidence/research: References will be made to a case study looking at community policing in the United States from Brogden (2008) in order to demonstrate potential positive outcomes.
8) List each reference in the bibliography.
Important things to remember:
• Remember to use proper SAGE Harvard formatting for your bibliography.
• Read the rubric! It contains all of the information that will be used by markers to assess your work.
• You are not beholden to the ideas you present. The purpose of this assessment is to get you thinking methodically about your topic. Your ideas will probably change as you start writing and researching in depth.
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