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by Peter Moskos

December 11, 2008

Publishing qualitative criminal justice

[Fair warning: Intended for stuffy academics. If you think you won't be interested, you're probably right.]

I received the latest issue of Journal of Criminal Justice Education yesterday. I have to confess, I’m not certain why I get this journal. I don’t remember ever subscribing to it. Of the journals I get, it’s the one I generally find least interesting. Take for instance: "Why we Need Certification Standards in Criminal Justice Education and what the Impacts will be: a Response to the Concerns of JDs." Yawn. Maybe it comes with membership in some professional criminal justice organization I belong to.

But the latest issue is great. I mean don’t mean CSI excitement here. But most of this is good stuff:

"Lombroso's Legacy: The Miseducation of Criminologists" argues that because of the evil history of genetic-based criminology, we’re missing out on important developments now. Given the poor track record of genetically-based social science, I’m not so convinced that we should be quick to discard the legacy of Hitler and assume that this time, we’ve got it right. I don’t know. Perhaps. They didn’t teach me this stuff (and that’s the point of the article).

"Reviewers' Views on Reviewing: An Examination of the Peer Review Process in Criminal Justice." Worth reading if you’re trying to get articles published.

"The Great Books in Criminal Justice: As Ranked by Elite Members of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences."
No, my book isn’t there. But it’s good to see what some consider to be our canon. If you're a student in the field, you should know these books. And if you're a student in the field, there's a good chance you'll never all these books in one list, conveniently broken down by field.

"The Quantitative/Qualitative Divide Revisited: A Study of Published Research, Doctoral Program Curricula, and Journal Editor Perceptions." This was the best article and that one that made me open the journal in the first place. As a qualitative researcher, I’ve very concerned with this divide. Can you get published if your work does not include statistical regressions? There is good news and bad news. The bad news is that leading journals publish even fewer qualitative articles than I thought. The quantitative/qualitative ratio is roughly 90%/10%. That's not good.

The good news is that most editors claim to be open to qualitative works but simply don’t receive enough of them. The article also has what seems to be excellent advice on what you, as a qualitative writer, can do to increase the chances of acceptance in a leading journal. Simple things I didn’t know (basically, among other things, use the format standard for quantitative pieces).

This article by Kevin Buckler is rare for an academic writing. Along with being a nice blend of well presented quantitative and qualitative data, it’s informative, convincing, well written, and actually enjoyable to read. If you are a qualitative academic trying to get published in criminal justice journals, it is, as they like to say, a “must read.”


Louise said...

Have you submitted qualitative articles to any academic journals?

PCM said...

Yes. None successfully until my publications in Law Enforcement Executive Forum.