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Criminal justice research in libraries and on the Internet/

Main Author: Nelson, Bonnie R.
Other Authors: Lutzker, Marilyn.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1997
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Review by Choice Review

Nelson's revision of Marilyn Lutzker and Eleanor Ferrall's Criminal Justice Research in Libraries (CH,Jan'87) is worthwhile for its coverage of electronic research methods. She retains the instructional emphasis of the earlier work. The first section, devoted to planning an information search, comprises a fourth of the work. The second section identifies core print and electronic guides within a context of research steps. This section emphasizes basic research skills rather than suggestions for specific topics (e.g., eyewitness reliability). The last section, which reviews criminal justice topics that require specialized strategies and tools, has an added chapter on forensics. The discussions of information flow, search strategy, primary and secondary sources, Boolean searching, relevancy ranking, and like matters could greatly assist novice researchers. The book occasionally includes too much detail for that audience, lapsing into discussions more appropriate for librarians (e.g., fee structures charged by libraries, old but classic reference sources, the history of encyclopedia publishing) that risk confusing students without enhancing the quality of their research. Many valuable aspects of the work have been retained. Lower-division undergraduates. T. L. Wesley Northern Kentucky University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

Professor Nelson has done an outstanding job of revising Lutzker and Ferrall's Criminal Justice Research in Libraries: Strategies and Resources (Greenwood, 1986) to reflect the changes in research methods that have occurred over the past 11 years. She skillfully integrates online, CD-ROM, and Web resources into the original organizational structure, so that the reader truly understands that what is important is the content, not the format, of the information. The first part of the research guide, "Before You Start," discusses scholarly communication and information flow, offers advice on how to develop a research plan, and explains the basics of bibliographic and Internet searching, including the use of Boolean logic. Students will find the discussion of the distinctions between primary and secondary sources and popular, scholarly, and professional literature particularly useful. Part 2, "Locating Information," devotes chapters to each of the following: the library catalog; encyclopedias, dictionaries, and annual reviews; indexes and abstracts; newsletters, newspapers, and news broadcasts; documents, reports, and conference proceedings; statistics; and printed bibliographies. Novice researchers will find the introductory text in each chapter a helpful explanation of when to use a particular form of information and how to use it most effectively. For topics such as state documents, where the range of publications and their accessibility vary greatly, the author offers good practical advice, including visiting state libraries. Individual titles and Internet sites were thoughtfully selected, resulting in a comprehensive treatment of the subject that does not leave the reader overwhelmed. Entries include analytical and, often, evaluative annotations. Nelson's choices also succeed in reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of criminal justice research. Occasionally, omissions are made in the range of access modes listed for particular titles. For example, Nelson does not indicate that Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report is available electronically through Washington Alert and InfoTrac SearchBank or that PsycINFO is available from the latter source. But most entries include a comprehensive list of access options. Part 3, "Some Special Problems," updates three chapters from Lutzker and Ferrall's book. Major revisions were made to the chapter dealing with legal resources to reflect the important role commercial online systems and, increasingly, free Internet sources play in today's legal environment. The chapter on the study of criminal justice in other countries was likewise updated to reflect the myriad Internet sources that enrich research in this area. The chapter "Historical Research with Primary Sources: Nineteenth-Century America" remains much the same as it was in Lutzker and Ferrall's work. Katherine Killoran contributed a new chapter, "Research in Forensic Science," which gives an overview of the basic information sources in this fascinating field. Appendixes include selected lists of Library of Congress subject headings in criminal justice, an annotated list of useful directories, and a list and description of major criminal justice reports. A glossary provides definitions of terms related to electronic searching. There are three separate indexes: an author/title index, an Internet resources index, and a subject index. Academic and special libraries that support criminal justice programs and research will find this book indispensable. Librarians charged with collection development responsibility for this area will consider it a "must" purchase.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.