ereviews: Criminal Justice

By Gail Golderman & Bruce Connolly

Deciding whether your institution needs to provide access to criminal justice resources would appear to be a no-brainer. If you offer a criminal justice program, such material is essential; if you don’t, then you likely view these databases as niche items that your library can easily do without. Our experience with the resources we examined for this review, however, suggests that these products deserve somewhat more careful consideration, as they have the potential to give students in the social sciences a broader perspective on many issues they will be studying.

These products exhibit considerable diversity in terms of what they include and how each one presents its content. The SAGE Criminology Collection is a straightforward package of peer-reviewed titles in the criminal justice field, many of which are produced by professional organizations such as the American Society of Criminology and the Association for Youth Justice.

ProQuest Criminal Justice and Criminal Justice Abstracts with Full Text from ­EBSCO combine bibliographic coverage of criminal justice literature with full-text access to an extensive array of key titles. With Criminal Justice and Public Safety in Video, Alexander Street Press extends its successful line of streaming video collections to the areas of law enforcement, criminal justice, and public safety. It offers a unique mix of History Channel–type documentaries with training videos geared to frontline law enforcement personnel.

While all of these resources have a key role to play in the training and education of students in the criminal justice field, they also give an institution without a criminology focus the means to present valuable insights that may be absent from a more conventional array of social sciences resources.

SAGE Criminology Collection SAGE Publications

content SAGE Publications offers some 700 journals across all academic disciplines, including nearly 300 titles issued by various learned societies and institutions. Journals are organized into 17 discipline-specific subject collections. The SAGE Criminology Collection homepage currently shows 29 peer-reviewed journals issued by the publisher in association with various academic and professional societies such as the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology, Inc., the American Society of Criminology, the British Society of Criminology, the European Society of Criminology, the International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology, the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, and the Association for Youth Justice and contains more than 18,000 individual articles with access extending back to 1999.

International in its coverage, the SAGE Criminology Collection includes literature pertaining to justice, juvenile delinquency, juvenile justice, corrections, penology, policing, forensic psychology, and family and domestic violence. Available journals include such titles as Crime & Delinquency, Criminal Justice and Behavior, Feminist Criminology, Homicide Studies, Journal of Correctional Health Care, Police Quarterly, and Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice.

SAGE also offers back files of 20 peer-reviewed journals encompassing more than 14,000 articles. This package includes access as far back as 1998. Sample issues are available on the journal homepage for each title, which means that subscribers, as well as potential subscribers, can examine journals that engage their interest.

Usability Users may browse journals by individual title or by discipline, either staying within the criminology area or expanding their search to all social science and humanities topic areas. The journal homepage dedicated to each title in the collection includes online-only articles from forthcoming print issues; access to current and recent issues, as well as to the back file for that title; alerts and RSS feeds; and a variety of useful links (to related publications or to the society that issues the title, to data sets, and to supplementary media).

“Quick Search” restricts results to articles from the journal title at hand. The “Search Within” feature allows the user to limit search results to all SAGE journals, to those within a particular discipline, or to a self-selected list of favorite titles. Advanced Search mode combines an array of search boxes separated by Boolean operators (AND, OR, and NOT) with a pull-down menu enabling field searching by all fields, title, author, full text, key words, references, affiliation, DOI (digital object identifier), journal name, ISSN, volume, issue, first page, and year. Searchers may add rows to build highly sophisticated strategies, and they may also specify the material that the search is run against, i.e., SAGE journals available to that user, all SAGE content, favorite journal titles, specified disciplines, or specific journal titles. Date-range searching is also available.

We devised a search strategy to find the terms gang* AND violence in an article title and rehabilitation OR therapy anywhere (“All fields”) in the record. We limited the search to just Criminology & Criminal Justice titles and to articles published since 2000. Although the search produced just one hit, it demonstrated how much control the researcher has over the process.

The record for each item in the results list displays a list of SAGE articles that cite this article (along with the abstract and full text for each of the hits). SAGE also has a number of services that facilitate the research process including emailing the article to a colleague, sending alerts when the article is cited or corrected, finding similar articles within the journal, downloading to a citation manager, and requesting reprints and permissions. This, in other words, is a very researcher-friendly resource.

PRICING While the list price of the SAGE Criminology Collection is $21,000, fees for the Collection vary by school depending on holdings, FTE, and Carnegie classification. There is also a pay-per-view article option for journal titles not included among an institution’s subscription holdings. Free trials are available.

VERDICT Most libraries will know instinctively if the SAGE Criminology Collection is right for them based on the content. The titles, many of which are produced by professional associations, are critical to criminal justice researchers, and the design of the resource and the many user-friendly extras add considerably to the overall usability of the site.

Criminal Justice and Public Safety in Video Alexander Street Press

CONTENT With Criminal Justice and Public Safety in Video, Alexander Street Press extends its reach into the realm of law enforcement, criminal justice, and public safety, offering a mix of videos depicting theory and practice, history, and headlines.

The database includes titles dealing with criminal law, criminal procedure, law enforcement, courts and adjudication, corrections, juvenile justice, substance abuse/reentry, criminology, victimology, violent crime, crime typology, forensics, and first responders. Coverage is international and multilingual. As of September 2013, Criminal Justice and Public Safety in Video had 559 videos totaling 379 hours of playing time.

Content comes from a variety of video publishers, including In the Line of Duty (with instructional titles such as Idaho High-Speed Pursuit; Safety Store Hostage; and Grateful Dead Concert Negotiation), A&E Television Networks (with documentaries such as Talk to Me: Hostage Negotiators of the NYPD;
The Kennedys and the Mob; and Forensic Firsts: Murder Under the Microscope), TVF International (Bioterrorism: The Truth; Facing Life After Facing Death; and Diana: The Inquest), Filmakers Library (The 10 Conditions of Love; Men Who Molest: Children Who Survive; and Afghanistan’s Opium Trail), and the National Institute of Justice (Crime and Public Housing; Insanity Defense; and Out on Bail). The collection is heavily weighted toward documentaries, which comprise 60% of the titles, with instructional material—chiefly produced by In the Line of Duty—making up nearly 40%. A small selection of lectures, interviews, speeches, and biographies completes the collection.

USABILITY A quick-search box with pull-down menus (all fields, authors/creators, titles and series, subjects, and transcripts and notes) permits users to enter search terms and begin hunting for videos as soon as they hit the site. Patrons may also browse all videos in the collection or browse by authors/creators as well as by topics.

The advanced search option consists of an array of search boxes for all fields, transcript and notes (all videos are fully transcribed), title, series, author/creator, subject, and publisher. Following these are a series of check boxes for discipline, video type, and language and subtitle language. Searching by date range and sorting by relevancy, title, and date are also available. Advanced search also makes it easy to select terms from controlled vocabulary lists and add them into the search strategy.

The single-term keyword search on supermax, which isn’t on the list of topics, produced five hits. Interrogation, which resulted in just three hits when selected on the browse topics list, found 58 hits when truncated as interrogat* in advanced search mode. That number drops to 19 when the search is refined by checking the box for instructional material under video type.

Like other Alexander Street video offerings, narrative and dialog display in concert with the video on the screen, and full transcripts are available as stand-alone files. Additionally, the “View Thumbnails” option simplifies the process of navigating to a particular scene. These are all professionally produced videos, and so the quality is typically very good. At full-screen size, however, the image tends to degrade.

Registered users may create, edit, and share clips and playlists with others at their institution or among all who subscribe to the resource.

PRICING The Criminal Justice and Public Safety in Video collection is available from Alexander Street Press on a subscription basis or as a one-time purchase of perpetual rights. Annual subscription pricing is scaled to institution size and budget and ranges from $1,257 to $3,995. Additionally, many individual video titles may be purchased in DVD format or acquired for streaming. Free trials are available.

VERDICT From a reviewer’s perspective, this is a very hard resource to stop playing around with—almost every search produces tempting lists of video titles. In addition, the History Channel documentaries from A&E Television Networks that comprise a sizable portion of the database give Criminal Justice and Public Safety in Video a broad appeal beyond the target audience in the criminal justice area—students of sociology, psychology, history, communications, and drama are all likely to find this content engaging. The instructional material is aimed more directly at those in the criminal justice field who conduct training, as well as those who are undertaking such education, but it, too, is likely to result in a broader fascination in the subject because it provides insight into approaches to dealing with trauma and conflict in real-world situations.

National Criminal Justice Reference Service Abstracts


Criminal Justice Abstracts with Full Text EBSCO;

content EBSCO delivers access via their EBSCOhost platform to National Criminal Justice Reference Service Abstracts and Criminal Justice Abstracts with Full Text for users interested in the fields of law enforcement, criminal justice, and criminology.

National Criminal Justice Reference Service Abstracts (NCJRS Abstracts) database houses thousands of summaries from more than 200,000 publications, including books, government reports, research reports, journals, and unpublished research. It also provides content from nearly 200 journals, 12 of which have core coverage. Among the subjects covered are corrections, courts, crime statistics, domestic preparedness, drugs, juvenile justice, law enforcement, terrorism response and tactics, victims, and victim rights and services.

All documents are either written in English or have an English-language summary, and the database also has a subject-specific thesaurus to assist with precision searching.

There is something for all interested parties here, with core scholarly journals offered, including such titles as Journal of Correctional Education, Criminal Justice Policy Review, Violence Against Women, Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, and Crime & Delinquency.

Researchers can discover content from guide books and reports from the National Crime Prevention Council, feature articles from Police Chief, literature reviews from sources such as Aggression and Violent Behavior; Forensic Science International: Genetics; and Legal and Criminology Psychology. The file also offers issue overviews from FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, Law and Order, and Justice Quarterly. Content dates range from 1970 to the present.

Researchers will undoubtedly also value access to Criminal Justice Abstracts with Full Text, the full-text counterpart to Criminal Justice Abstracts. Attention extends to journals worldwide—covering primary areas related to criminal justice and criminology, criminal law and procedure, crime trends, corrections and prisons, policing, criminal investigation, forensic sciences and investigation, substance abuse and addiction, and probation and parole.

This file offers more than 300,000 records selected from the core sources within the discipline—more than 500 titles with cover-to-cover coverage. With full text for more than 200 academic journals (which are mainly peer-reviewed) and magazines, the database also contains reports, trade publications, dissertations, pamphlets, and the full text of monographs and other books from publishers such as Oxford University Press and Stanford University Press. Among the titles are ABA Journal, California Law Review, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, and Journal of Homeland Security & Emergency Management. Researchers will also find collections of conference papers, such as Papers from the British Criminology Conference and Proceedings of the Conference on Digital Forensics, Security & Law. Several titles designated as “coming soon” are Law Society of New South Wales, Law & Human Behavior (from the American Psychological Association), Mental Health & Substance Use: Dual Diagnosis, New Journal of European Criminal Law, and Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy. As in other EBSCO databases, many of the titles include searchable citations, indexing, and abstracting, and full-text dates range span from 1910 (Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law & Criminology) to the present.

USABILITY Either file is searchable on the EBSCOhost platform, and all features and functionality are available to researchers. Users can choose additional EBSCO databases if their library subscribes to them and cross-search for breadth and depth of a particular topic. In addition, EBSCO includes a growing number of ebooks that are freely available to subscribers and can be added to a particular query for additional results.

For brevity with this review, we will include search examples from the NCJRS Abstracts. A basic search box allows users to select a “Search Options” link, which lets them apply optional limiters or expanders. Advanced mode affords additional limiting to document type and an “Add Row” feature for more complex searching.

Our initial “juvenile offenders” keyword phrase retrieved 10,000-plus records—a rather hefty number to scroll through for even the most sophisticated user. Major subjects associated with the phrase, such as juvenile delinquency research, youthful offenders, and juvenile corrections*, help with specificity—and, more important, offer an improved subset of records to examine. Results included materials such as “Northwestern Juvenile Project: An Overview,” which links to the online summary and full references; Juvenile Justice Realignment in 2012, a policy brief also available online from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice; and the online monograph from the National Institute of Corrections, You’re an Adult Now: Youth in Adult Criminal Justice Systems, illustrating the range of content available.

Searchers may also browse the subject-specific thesaurus or 16 indexes, such as author, document type, keywords, and subject, to select terms and add them to the search strategy. Patrons may also create personal accounts to save preferences, organize citations with folders, share folders, save and retrieve search histories, and create email alerts and/or RSS feeds.

PRICING Pricing is based on a variety of factors including FTE, existing EBSCO databases, consortium agreements and/or buying groups. Free trials are available.

VERDICT Criminal Justice Abstracts with Full Text and National Criminal Justice Reference Service Abstracts are outstanding additions for institutions supporting academic and vocational programs in criminal justice and law enforcement. Both provide coverage of the core titles in criminology and related disciplines, extensive coverage of books and monographs, and access to reports from government and nongovernmental agencies.

ProQuest Criminal Justice ProQuest;

CONTENT ProQuest Criminal Justice (formerly ProQuest Criminal Justice Periodicals Index or CJPI) is a comprehensive database supporting research for professionals, scholars, and students. It presents materials on a wide range of criminal justice topics including criminal law and behavioral sciences, criminal procedure, corrections administration, addiction, search and seizure, evidence, family law, forensic sciences, policing practices and procedures, social work, law enforcement, trends and innovations in law enforcement, and victims’ rights.

With abstract and indexing for 250 titles —more than 100 available in full-text—the mix of titles includes U.S. and international scholarly journals, correctional and law enforcement trade publications, magazines, crime reports, news, crime statistics, and crime blogs from selected U.S. cities such as Miami, Dallas, and Orlando, FL.

Coverage for most titles extends from the mid 1980s to the present, with a select few offering material from as far back as the mid 1970s. Full-text content is regularly added to increase the scope of the collection and a sampling of titles includes Journal of Digital Forensics, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, British Journal of Community Justice, European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, Prison Legal News, Criminal Court Statistics (Australia), and FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.

USABILITY The ProQuest Criminal Justice collection is a file within ProQuest Central, a multidisciplinary, full-text database with nearly 30 individual collections arranged across more than 160 subjects in the areas of business, science and technology, health and medical, arts and humanities, social sciences, and news. Other collections in the database include ProQuest Social Science Journals, ProQuest Psychology Journals, and ProQuest Education Journals. Any collection within ProQuest Central can be subscribed to individually, and each may be searched separately or easily cross-searched together with a simple check-box selection.

Users can initiate a basic search, or opt for advanced, with all the typical limit features (source type, document type, publication date, etc.). We entered “child custody” and retrieved more than 7,000 results. In addition to scholarly journals, magazines, and trade publications, the results also included 80 dissertations pertaining to child custody and family law, child custody and state court decisions, and child custody and parental rights. All records have a substantial abstract, and indexing details include linked subject and frequently MeSH headings and classification codes. Limiting our initial keyword search to the subject “child custody” and to items that were peer reviewed, we dropped our results list to a reasonable 594, with commentary from Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases and current articles from Journal of Family Violence, Affilia, and Family Court Review.

Within advanced search mode, more experienced users can default to the command line search, enabling them to build a precise search strategy using operators to combine different fields that target the search terms. Users can also explore terms in the associated thesaurus to become more familiar with authoritative subject headings. Entering “sex crimes” in the thesaurus, we examined the “Use term for” (“see”) phrases “sexual abuse” and “sodomy,” and a list of related terms to potentially include in a revised search, such as “Child pornography,” “Hate crimes,” “Prostitution,” “Sex industry,” “Sex offenders,” and “Violent crime.”

Another advanced feature, “Find Similar,” allows users to find additional items by copying a selection of text from the full text of an article or its abstract. ProQuest will return a results list containing documents that match key terms.

Users can register for a My Research account to obtain 24/7 access, create search alerts, get RSS feeds, save documents and searches across ProQuest sessions, and more.

PRICING Pricing is based on FTE, population served, existing ProQuest databases, consortium agreements, and/or buying groups. Free trials are available.

VERDICT Available as part of the company’s flagship ProQuest Central (publicized as the “broadest single research resource in the world), ProQuest Criminal Justice will benefit institutions as a stand-alone subscription, providing excellent support for scholars and other researchers. It will also be useful to those pursuing professions within criminal justice, social work, law enforcement, corrections administration, drug enforcement, family law, and other related fields.

Violence and Abuse Abstracts EBSCO;

Violence and Abuse Abstracts includes the indexing and abstracts of more than 77,700 records selected from core sources within the discipline, such as Child Maltreatment, Trauma, and Violence & Abuse. The database covers all aspects of the problems, including family violence, sexual assault, emotional abuse, and other areas of key relevance. EBSCO has digitized the full archive of this index, offering coverage back to 1995. Among the additional scholarly titles are American Journal of Police, Family Court Review, International Journal of Offender Therapy & Comparative Criminology, and Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice. The database also indexes a selection of magazines, handbooks, and monographs. Searchable cited references for many of the sources are included.

Legal Source EBSCO;

This database was developed by merging EBSCO and H.W. Wilson resources (all titles indexed in Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective: 1908–1981, Index to Legal Periodicals and Books, Index to Legal Periodicals and Books Full Text, and Legal Collection), and more than 100 full-text sources never previously available. The database provides full-text coverage dating back to 1912 of more than 880 journals, as well as detailed indexing for legal journals, law reviews, yearbooks, institutes, statutes, bar association publications, and university publications. With more than 2.5 million records, Legal Source also encompasses 300 law reviews, book reviews, symposia, trade publications, jurisdictional surveys, legislation, and court decisions. International coverage includes periodicals from the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. Those users interested in legal topics such as criminal justice, international law, federal law, and organized crime will benefit from this valuable material.

Homeland Security Digital Library U.S. Department of Homeland Security;

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Preparedness Directorate, FEMA, and the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security, Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) is composed of more than 125,000 documents collected from a wide variety of sources, such as federal, state, tribal, and local government agencies, professional organizations, think tanks, academic institutions, and international governing bodies. Resources are selected and evaluated by a team of librarians and subject-matter specialists and include featured topics, critical releases, news archives, and restricted collections requiring prior approval from HSDL staff. HSDL also provides open access to a limited collection that does not require authentication.

International Security & Counter-Terrorism Reference Center (ISCTRC) Homeland Security Digital Library EBSCO;

International Security & Counter-Terrorism Reference Center (ISCTRC) provides open source access to more than 1.5 million records on material pertaining to criminal justice, terrorism and security, disaster and recovery, and regional conflicts. The database includes scholarly journals, books, magazines, pamphlets, industry reports, market research reports, and country reports; primary-source documents from government agencies, congressional documents, and newspapers; commentary and analysis from a variety of organizations, agencies and publishers; and timely reviews of recent international developments. Users will find comprehensive background summaries on people, organizations, places, and events relating to homeland security and international terrorism. ISCTRC also features a specialized subject index, extensive image collection, and television and radio transcripts from CBS, Fox, MSNBC, CNBC, CNN, and more.

Oxford Handbooks Online: Criminology and Criminal Justice Oxford University Press;

One of 14 subject areas available on Oxford Handbooks Online, the Criminology and Criminal Justice series currently contains 187 articles from The Oxford Handbook of Crime and Justice, The Oxford Handbook of Crime and Public Policy, The Oxford Handbook of Criminological Theory, The Oxford Handbook of Sentencing and Corrections, The Oxford Handbook of Juvenile Crime and Juvenile Justice, and The Oxford Handbook of Crime Prevention. The collection includes scholarly research reviews on a cross-searchable platform, and all articles are signed and peer-reviewed. Users can search or browse by individual articles or books in a particular series or across all areas. Each article has an abstract, keywords, and a brief overview of the content, as well as a conclusion, references, and notes.

Oxford Bibliographies: Criminology Oxford University Press;

Oxford Bibliographies are a unique combination of online annotated bibliography, encyclopedia, and authoritative research guide, covering a broad range of 36 subject areas. With seamless linking to print and online sources, they are a great starting point for various levels of users. Articles include an introduction and a general overview, along with the annotated list of references. Available by subscription or perpetual access, each subject is covered in approximately 50 articles to start, with an additional 50 to 75 articles added each year over the course of several updates. The subject areas are administered by an editor in chief, an editorial board, and peer reviewers. All articles are thoroughly reviewed annually. “Criminology” currently includes 150 articles, with 11 forthcoming in fall 2013. Some of the titles are Environmental Crime and Justice; Gangs, Peers, and Co-offending; Gender and Crime; School Crime and Violence; and Technology and the Criminal Justice System.

Gail Golderman ( is Electronic Resources Librarian, and Bruce Connolly ( is Reference & Bibliographic Instruction Librarian, Schaffer Library, Union College, Schenectady, NY