Resources for Justice Studies Research

united states department of justice

Library of Congress image, South facade looking southwest – United States Department of Justice, Constitution Avenue between Ninth & Tenth Streets, Northwest, Washington, District of Columbia, DC.

About this Guide

This guide provides students with recommended resources for conducting research on topics in Justice Studies courses.
SBCC has a fantastic Justice Studies program, providing degrees in Law Enforcement, Legal Studies, Criminology, and Administration of Justice for Transfer. Use the tabs above to navigate through the pages of this guide.

Paper Writing Assistance

About SBCC’s Writing Center
The SBCC Learning Resource Center Online Writing Tools

Need More Help?

Have a question? Stop by the Reference & Information desk, or contact a librarian by phone, email, or chat for more help.Contact Us

Library Tutorials

Interested in learning more about the library on your own? Explore the library’s online tutorials.


Keywords are the words you type into a search box to search for information on your topic. The words you use to describe your topic may be different from the words used by authors in the field of Justice Studies. For example, scholars who study police might also use terms such as law enforcement or peace officer. Similarly, searching with informal terms like cops will likely lead to less scholarly sources.

Watch the video below for a short tutorial on using keywords. If you have trouble finding information on your topic, ask a librarian for help choosing the best keywords to use in your search.

Video courtesy of Ray Howard Library at Shoreline Community College (CC BY-NC 3.0 US)

Here are some suggested keywords for searching the library catalog (books+) for Justice Studies sources:

  • Administration of Justice
  • Corrections
  • Crime
  • Criminal courts
  • Criminal justice
  • Criminal law
  • Criminology
  • Jurisprudence
  • Juvenile courts
  • Juvenile justice
  • Law
  • Law enforcement
  • Public policy
  • Social justice

Print Reference Books

Print reference books are a good place to begin your research. For quick answers and facts, use these these excellent books in the library for short, credible answers to your questions.
You can take notes, or photocopy pages for ten cents a page. Examples of reference books are listed below:

  • Black’s law dictionary — R 340.03 B627b 2009
  • The encyclopedia of American law enforcement — R 363.20973 N565e 2007
  • Crime and punishment in America: An encyclopedia of trends and controversies in the justice system — R 364.973 F513c 2017

Online Reference Books

The library also subscribes to many online reference books. To access these resources from off campus, you will need to log in with your Pipeline account information. These are just a few of our reference ebooks:


Journal and magazine articles usually provide the most current information on a topic. Journal articles are more scholarly while magazine articles tend to be shorter and more general. Newspaper articles are the most current of the three periodical sources.

To find articles on your topic, use one of the online databases listed below. These databases usually provide full-text articles. For a successful search, you may need to use both subject keywords and specific names of legal or law enforcement agencies, justice issues, or individuals.

  • Academic Search Complete provides full text for more than 8,500 periodicals (magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals), including full text for nearly 7,300 peer-reviewed titles, in all subject areas. The database includes PDF content going back as far as 1887. Searchable cited references are provided for more than 1,400 journals.
  • Criminal Justice Abstracts with Full Text includes full text and bibliographic records of leading journals in the criminal justice and criminology field, with more than 320 full-text magazines and journals.
  • Nexis Uni provides the full text of more than 15,000 news, business and legal sources. News sources include: current and back issues of local, regional, national, and international newspapers; television and radio broadcast transcripts; newswires; and blogs. Business sources include: information on more than 80 million U.S. and international companies and more than 75 million executives. Legal sources include: law reviews and journals; and the Shepard’s® Citations Service for all federal and state court cases and statutes back to 1789, including U.S. Supreme Court decisions back to 1790.
  • Military & Government Collection provides news pertaining to all branches of the military and government. Includes periodicals (magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals), and other content, including full text for nearly 300 periodicals, and indexing and abstracts for more than 400 titles.
  • Click here for newspaper sources.
  • The following two databases are excellent sources of “pros and cons”, covering all sides of controversial topics:
    CQ Researcher includes an introductory overview; background and chronology on the topic; an assessment of the current situation; tables and maps; pro/con statements from representatives of opposing positions; and bibliographies of key sources.
    Opposing Viewpoints in Context includes continuously updated viewpoint articles, topic overviews, full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, primary source documents, statistics, images, videos, audio files and links to vetted websites.

Finding Articles Cited in Bibliographies

The sources cited in a bibliography or a “Works Cited”/References page, are good starting points for further research.

If you find a journal article in a bibliography, use the journals tab on the library home page and type the journal title (not the article title) in the search box. If the library has access to this particular journal, you will be directed to “search within this publication.” If we do not have full-text access to an article you need, you can utilize interlibrary loan.

This is a helpful link to understand how to “read” a citation.


Search the library catalog (books+) for print books and ebooks on your topic. If we don’t have what you need, you can get books and articles from other libraries by completing the Interlibrary loan — this may take from 5-10 days.


Can’t get to campus? You can search for eBooks (full books available online).

Quality Internet Resources

Keep in mind, while you are searching, that there is a great deal of poor information online.
Visit our research guide on finding credible resources on the internet.

Use the P.R.O.V.E.N. Source Evaluation Questions to help you determine whether the sources you find are credible.

Recommended Websites

  • Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) – The FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division has the mission of “equipping our law enforcement, national security, and intelligence community partners with the criminal justice information they need to protect the United States while preserving civil liberties.”
  • Justice Technology Information Center (JTIC) – A program within the U.S. Department of Justice, JTIC is a source of detailed data on the technologies used for security, safety, and monitoring in law enforcement, courts, and corrections.
  • National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD) – Raw data to download about criminal justice. The mission of this organization “is to facilitate research in criminal justice and criminology, through the preservation, enhancement, and sharing of computerized data resources”.
  • National Criminal Justice Reference System – This is “a federally funded resource offering justice and drug-related information to support research, policy, and program development worldwide.”

Sources of Statistics

If you are primarily interested in statistics, try our research guide on sources of statistical information.

Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics site is the main federal source for criminal justice statistics across the United States.


How to Cite

Besides your librarians, there are many sources of online citation help available: