Social Problems Paper: Juvenile Delinquency


For this project, you will select a research topic that deals with juvenile delinquency.  Next, you will conduct a literature review that will incorporate at least five peer reviewed articles/books.  After that, you will analyze your findings using concepts discussed in class in order to illuminate your research topic.  The entire project will be written up in a paper that is 7 to 10 pages long.

Selection of a research topic

Select a research topic that deals with juvenile delinquency.  You could choose topic such as families, schools, drugs, gangs, inequality, and so on.  I encourage you to speak with me if you have any questions about what makes a good topic.

Literature review

Once you have a topic, go to the library and hit the books.  Check out the University Library Subject Guide for some tips on finding good peer reviewed papers.  Collect at least five peer reviewed articles that illuminate your topic.  Also, limit your search to articles from the last ten years.  Non-peer reviewed articles will not count towards the minimum article requirement.

Once you have your articles in hand, it’s time to start writing the literature review section of the paper.  Remember, a literature review is not a haphazard list of articles.  For example, “so and so said this . . . so and so said that . . . this other guy saw it this way . . .”  In contrast, your literature review should be a flowing and coherent analysis of the articles that support and/or clarify the purpose of your investigation.


After you have reviewed the articles, discuss in your own words what you have found.  This will go beyond the descriptive scope of the literature review.  In this section you will overlap the findings from your literature review and come up with something new.  This will be accomplished by employing concepts from the class.  You will need to apply at least three concepts from the class in your analysis.  When first introducing your concepts in this section, bold them so I can easily locate them when reviewing your paper.  To sum up this section, after reading all of the articles, thinking about them with the material we have talked about in class, what can you now say about your research topic?  How does your topic relate to juvenile delinquency?  Show me that you can identify three concepts from class, describe them, and use them to make sense of your topic.


You will write your paper using APA formatting.  The Perdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) has an excellent guide and example paper for you to reference when working on your paper:

Your paper must include the following sections formatted as described by the OWL (double spaced, 12 pt font, 1″ margins, etc)

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
    • Introduce your research topic
    • Justify the importance of looking into this topic
  • Literature review
  • Analysis
  • References

Final thoughts

As with almost all writing assignments, starting earlier is better.  Don’t wait until the last few days before the project is due to begin your work.  This most often leads to a hellish and stressful experience that almost always produces a mediocre paper.  Don’t do that to yourself.  Instead, start early and give yourself plenty of time to revise.  Good papers require revision.  First drafts are always crap.  Starting early allows you to revise and refine.  Also, if you have any questions, you can run your draft past me.  If you do that, your paper should be strong and you won’t have to suffer through the pain of cramming and trying to make the deadline.  Start working on this project right now

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