Information literacy skills are critical to your ability to build new knowledge and demonstrate critical thinking in your communication.
Information literacy is the skill to recognize when information is needed, effectively locate credible sources of information, evaluate the information, analyze the information accurately, and the ability to communicate the knowledge of the source into your original writing.
Critical thinking skills are critical to the pursuit of knowledge in the criminal justice discipline. Discovering your own answers to problems and building self-confidence as you learn how to learn. Teaching yourself to become an independent and self-directed learner that has the ability to find your own answers will enhance your standing, enthusiasm, and passion as a criminal justice scholar.
When is Information Needed
Recognizing and identifying when information is needed is the first process.
The goal of using acceptable scholarly literature is to add credibility to your academic writing. Giving credit to the source/s in your work adds credibility by analyzing what other researchers/scholars have previously published. When another’s work inspires your thinking on a topic give credit to that source/s. This demonstrates that you have read and incorporated the current literature into your analysis.
Locating Credible and Acceptable Literature
Your work is only as credible as the sources used to support your work.
The best sources for your criminal justice writing is going to be current (less than five-years from publishing) peer-reviewed journal articles.
The peer-reviewed process is the evaluation of the research article by competent scholars and practitioners who are recognized subject matter experts on the topic or discipline. The peer-reviewed process maintains the highest standards of academic quality and provides credibility so that the work produced meets the expectations and guidelines for publishing in recognize academic journals and periodicals.
The college or university library contains electronic password protected databases by academic disciplines that contains peer-reviewed research articles. This is the best source to find and locate credible academic literature. Google Scholar is also a credible information warehouse that contains published peer-reviewed articles.
Identifying and evaluating information and its sources is a critical part of using acceptable literature that is required in your academic writing.
Things to consider when evaluating the source.
- Is the source current?
- Is the source published in a peer-reviewed journal or periodical?
- What are the credentials of the author/s?
- Did the authors follow acceptable research protocols to investigate the problem?
- Are the authors findings based on the data analyzes?
- What are the authors conclusions and recommendations?
- What are the strengths and limitations of the research?
- How can this study support my original writing?
Synthesizing the Literature
Once you have located credible academic peer-reviewed literature you need to synthesize the information retrieved. Synthesizing is the skill to use the peer-reviewed information by integrating your knowledge and analysis of the research article to produce original writing and create something new.
The key is to use your own words and original writing and avoid overusing quotes from the peer-reviewed article. Over using published quotes distracts from your ability to display original critical thinking in your communication.
Learning to communicate concise and displaying critical thinking in your writing takes practices and the more you practice this skill the more confidence you build in your ability to contribute to the pool of knowledge within the criminal justice discipline.
About the Author
Mark Bond has worked in law enforcement and has been a firearms instructor for more than 33 years. His law enforcement experience includes the military, local, state and federal levels as a police officer and criminal investigator. Mark obtained a BS and MS in criminal justice, and M.Ed in educational leadership with Summa Cum Laude honors. Mark has a doctoral degree in education (EdD) with a concentration in college teaching and learning. Mark is currently an associate professor of criminal justice at a university and adjunct professor of administration of justice studies at a community college.