Evaluating Criminology and Criminal Justice

Evaluating Criminology and Criminal Justice

Evaluating Criminology and Criminal Justice

Evaluating Criminology and Criminal Justice

Synopsis

Using citation analysis, this study examines the influence and prestige of scholars, journals, and university departments in the fields of criminology and criminal justice. In the tradition of Marvin E. Wolfgang's Evaluating Criminology, the authors apply this quantitative method to evaluate the impact of individuals and their research efforts on two fields and to identify interconnections among scholars and their publications. This examination of the most-cited scholars, works, and topics in major American and international journals from 1986 to 1990 and from 1991 to 1995 provides valuable and unbiased feedback for researchers and practitioners.

Excerpt

Citation analysis is a well-known and widely used technique for evaluating the impact and prestige of scholars, journals, and university departments in a discipline. It is also useful for determining the impact of a given article or book on subsequently published research in the field, has been used to study communication networks among scholars, has identified new research fronts and the linkages among them, and may indicate links between two highly interrelated journals or topics ("co-citation analysis").

Citation analysis research is found in such diverse fields as medicine (e.g., Logan and Shaw 1991), economics (e.g., Ferber 1986), biochemistry (e.g., Cano and Lind 1991), physics (e.g., Cole and Cole 1971), organizational science (e.g., Blackburn and Mitchell 1981), psychology (e.g., Bagby,Parker, and Bury 1990), sociology (e.g., Bott and Hargens 1991), and of course criminology (e.g., Cohn and Farrington 1996). Probably the best known example in criminology is the research by Wolfgang,Figlio, and Thornberry (1978), which employed citation analysis to determine the most-cited American books and articles from 1945 to 1972.

Citation analysis provides a quantitative method of determining the impact of a scholar, a journal, or a department on the field. It is based on the concept that "good work is work that others find useful and consequently cite in their own work" (Christenson and Sigelman 1985: 965). Citations act as a measure of the importance of a scholar's work; citations to a work suggest that colleagues in one's field find the work important and valuable. Similarly, a large number of citations to a given journal suggest that the journal enjoys high stature and prestige within the field. Although there is some debate as to whether citation counts accurately measure the quality of a work (e.g., Ferber 1986), they are commonly employed as a measure of the prestige or influence of that work on the field as a whole.

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