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SOWK 370: Social Work and the Criminal Justice System: Evaluation

The criminal justice system affects many of social work’s clients while ensuring public safety and offering services to offenders and victims of crime. This course examines the intersection between the profession of social work and the American criminal j

Journal Article

Purpose of the Article:  Why was the article written?

  • To persuade    To inform    To prove something

Type of Journal

  • Scholarly Journal: high quality research reviewed by experts in the field. (Peer-review)
  • Trade Magazine: topics in business or economic data

Organization & Content

  • Is material iorganized and focused?
  • Is argument or presentation understandable?
  • Is this original research, a review of previous research


  • Left/Liberal?   OR Right/Conservative? Center?
  • An alternative press?  OR Political action (PAC) group?

Date of Article

  • Up‐to‐date, Out‐of‐date, Timeless


  • Identifies resources consulted appropriate for the content.  
  • Is it selective or comprehensive,
  • Primary sources and/or secondary sources only
  • Is the citation style clear and consistent?


  • Is the article relevant to the current research project?  
  • Support an argument ‐Refute an argument
  • Includes survey results, primary research finding, case studies


  • Author(s) and/or publisher(s) credentials verifiable.  
  • Expert in this field? Where employed? Other writings?


  • Comprehensively, partially, or provide an overview?


  • Specialists. Researchers or scholars Students


  • Charts, graphs, maps, photographs used to illustrate concepts
  • Relevant, clear and professional‐looking?



  • Is the information reliable? 
  • .Is the author an expert in the field? Check credentials/affiliation
  • Does the resource have a reputable organization
  • Are the sources of information stated and verifiable
  • Can the author be contacted for clarification? 
  • Check for organizational or author biases.


  • Is material unique, accurate or is it derivative, repetitious, or doubtful?
  • Is the information available in other formats? 
  • Is the purpose of the resource clearly stated?
  • What subjects, time period, formats or types are covered? 
  • Is the information factual or opinion? 
  • Does the site contain original information or simply links? 
  • How frequently is the resource updated? 
  • Does the site have clear and obvious pointers to new content?

Format and Presentation

  • How many links does it take to get to something useful? 
  • Do images enhance the resource or distract from the content? 
  • Is the target audience or intended users clearly indicated? 
  • Is the arrangement of links uncluttered
  • Does the site have its own search engine? 
  • Is the site easily browsable or searchable?


  • Is response time fast? 
  • Does the site have a text-based alternative? 
  • How many links lead to a dead-end? 
  • Is this a fee-based site? Can non-members still have access to part of the site? 
  • Must you register a name and password before using the site


Literature Review

Selection of Literature

  • Are parameters of the review reasonable?
    • Why Is certain literature included and others excluded?
    • Which years are included?
  • Are primary sources emphasized over secondary sources?
  • Is the literature is relevant to the problem?

Criticism of the Literature

  • How is the review organized?
  • By  topics or ideas
  • By author
  • Is the review organized logically?
  • Are major studies or theories discussed in detail?
  • Are minor studies discussed as a group?
  • Is there criticism of the design and methodology of the studies?
  • Are studies compared and contrasted and conflicting results noted?

Summary Interpretation

  • Does the summary provide an overall interpretation of the problem?
  • Does the summary conclude that the research is necessary?
  • Do the implications provide theoretical or empirical justification for the research questions or hypothesis that follows?
  • Does the methodology provide a rationale for the design to follow?

Evaluating a Research Report


  • Clear and concise
  • States what the study promises



  • clearly stated
  • properly defined
  • significance recognized
  • hypotheses clearly stated/specific questions raised
  • assumptions and limitations stated
  • important terms defined


  • adequately covered
  • important findings noted
  • well organized
  • effectively summarized


Procedures Used

  • detailed research design
  • adequate research design
  • relevant variables recognized
  • appropriate controls provided
  • data gathering instruments appropriate
  • validity and reliability established
  • statistical treatment appropriate