A deductive research project to assess why people in a town (population 30,000) partake in shoplifting.

Semester A Assessment

Not more than 1300 words.



Research Proposal

Module –Research methods in criminology.


A deductive research project to assess why people in a town (population 30,000) partake in shoplifting.







  1. What is the subject of this research proposal?


The overall aim of the proposed research is to explore the reasons and factors of people’s participation in shoplifting. The research will be conducted in the framework of a town with the population of 30,000. The primary question of research must be formulated as follows: What are the main reasons why people take part in shoplifting? The secondary question of the proposed study must be expressed as follows: Are residents of a small town (population 30,000) less predisposed to shoplifting as compared to the residents of a big city?


  1. Please provide a full summary of research designs and methods that have been used by previous researchers in this type of research or for research with similar kinds of aims.


In their collaborative study of crimes, including shoplifting, in rural and small-town America, Weisheit et al (1995) utilize the following research designs and methods: a) literature review as a secondary data collection and analysis design; and b) interviews as either qualitative (unstructured) or quantitative (structured) primary data collection designs in terms of an exploratory study. In addition to this, the scholars make use of several research designs which help to measure the findings from literature review and interviews. They include: a) operational definitions; b) the intuitive or subjective approach; c) demographic statistics; d) occupational and economic measurement; e) measurement of self-identifications Weisheit et al (1995).

On the other hand, Clarke and Petrossian (2013) in their up-to-date publication on shoplifting utilize the following methods of research: a) observation (qualitative research method); b) categorization; c) case study; and d) literature review. Hence, it follows that both Weisheit et al (1995) and Clarke and Petrossian (2013) give priority to qualitative and theoretical data collection designs.


  1. What kinds of designs and methods are commonly considered to be suitable for research with similar purposes?


Primary data collection designs/methods and secondary data collection design methods, as well as qualitative research methods and quantitative research methods, are considered suitable for research with similar purposes. The fact is that the proposed research is directed at the study of the crime of shoplifting from a criminological perspective. According to Maxfield and Babbie (2007), the study of any crime may be conducted through the application of quantitative research methods to the same extent as qualitative research methods. Alternatively, a mixed research design may be utilized. Each design has its pros and cons. All the strengths and weaknesses of research designs and methods are going to be analyzed next.


  1. Please describe two different but possible types of research design that you have considered in depth for this research project.


The proposed study may be conducted either as a quantitative (fixed) research or qualitative (flexible) research. Robson (2002) writes that flexible and fixed research designs have intrinsic differences and carried out through discrepant research methods. According to the scholar, flexible research designs, also known as qualitative research, incorproate the plan of methodological procedures that can be changed or developed while the project is underway. By contrast, the projects using fixed research designs, also known as quantitative research, are totally pre-planned in detail.

According to Robson (2002), flexible designs are more general in initial planning than fixed designs. The author claims that flexible research designs accentuate on the scope of research, while the step of initial planning is reduced to the development of general research questions only.

This peculiarity of flexible research designs lies in the facts that the details and characteristics of such designs may change depending on the initial results. Also, Robson (2002) states that the most salient examples of flexible research designs are grounded theory or ethnographic studies. The above-mentioned types of research designs rest predominantly on the collection of qualitative data, irrespective of the fact that some quantitative data may also be gathered in the framework of flexible designs.


  1. Please provide a set of arguments for and against each of these designs.


Arguments for and against flexible research design. The main benefits of qualitative research are the following. First, qualitative research design may help to deduce a new theory concerning shoplifting in small towns. Second, one of the main advantages of doing qualitative research is to become more informed and experienced with the phenomenon in question (Trochim 2006). Third, qualitative research is likely to facilitate the in-depth study and clarification of what shoplifting truly is, and what innermost motives and incentives of shoplifters are. Fourth, Trochim (2006) writes that qualitative research methods are suitable for the investigation of complicated and sensitive problems (Gilbert 2008). Fifth, according to Blaxter, Hughes and Tight (2010), qualitative paradigm is largely based on ungeneralizable single case studies which takes into account the dynamic nature of the discussed phenomena and relies on grounded, discovery oriented, descriptive, exploratory, expansionist and deductive process.

The main shortcomings of flexible research design are the following. First, qualitative research designs are directed at profound knowledge by minimizing the use of individual facts, statistical trends and numerical data. Second, qualitative research can not show correlations between several individual cases of shoplifting. Third, the volume of data is time-consuming.

Arguments for and against fixed research design. The main advantages of quantitative research are the following. First, it is easy to compile the data onto a chart or graph. Second, the research can be conducted on a large scale and provide more information. Apart from the above, the main disadvantages of quantitative research are the following. First, it is more costly than qualitative research. Second, statistical information change often and, thus, it is sometimes difficult to ensure that the results are up-to-date.


  1. Please identify your preferred design, stating the reasons why you think it is the best available design.


Qualitative (flexible) research design with the methodology of field research (observation and unstructured interviews) was considered the most pertinent research design in the context of the proposed study (Hobbs and May 1993). This research design will help to approach the problem of shoplifting from the deductive perspective by having an idea of what to expect. This design will help to gather data in an attempt to plug that data into the bigger picture. Also, qualitative research will have to monitor all research behaviours, because it will produce field notes and observations of not only behaviours, but also motivation. The technique of field research will be used a composite research method in the framework of qualitative research design by combining the methods of observation and interviewing (Maxfield and Babbie 2007, p. 188; Noak and Wincup 2009). The key specificity of unstructured interviews lies in its independence from a predefined set of questions. Also, the method of unstructured interviewing does not have a fixed structure (Davis et al 2009).

On the other hand, the method of direct observations will reinforce interviewing. This type of observation is more directed at watching rather than acting, whereas the method of structured observations is emphasizes the collection and fixation of data by means of various highly structured forms with well-elaborated parameters. In terms of qualitative research, direct observation is more justifiable.


  1. Please describe, in detail, your plans for data collection


Unstructured interviewing will be carried out through the following sequential steps: : a) – statement of the research problem; b) – search and selection of the relevant interviewees; c) – making a start with some initial questions; d) – sustaining the course of the interview; e) – recording the data; f) – establishing relevant inferences.

The first step will be the employment of the negotiation techniques and tactics to introduce the problem statement and convince the perspective interviewees to participate in the process. The second step will be the search and invitation of the interviewees to participate in the interviewing. As the next step of the interviewing, brief statements about the purpose of the interviewing and the requirements to the interviewees will be made. Then, the interview was conducted according to the script.

Observation has not concrete steps.


  1. Please provide a flow-chart with associated dates for completing the proposed research.




Literature Review




Results and Discussion



December 2013


December 2013 – January 2014


January 2014


January – February 2014


February 2014




  1. Please supply a table which summarises the types and quantities of resources required for implementing the preferred research design.

Primary Data

In the framework of the proposed research, the sources of primary data are: a) opinions, thoughts, attitudes of respondents; b) legal documents; c) other primary documents.



Secondary Data

In the framework of the proposed research, the source secondary data are: a) academic publications; b) scientific reports; c) internet sources.





  1. Please identify the ethical issues raised by this proposal and say how you have resolved them or propose to do so.


Cohen et al (2007) identify the following ethical problems in social sciences research: a) informed consent; b) gaining access to and acceptance in the research setting; c) privacy matters; d) anonymity, confidentiality, betrayal, deception; e) code of practice for research; f) responsibilities to the research community, etc. (Cohen et al 2007, p. 51).

These issues will be eliminated through the following steps. First, official letter will be sent for the purpose of interviewing (Bryman 2012). Second, the formal access to the places of direct observation will be requested. Third, the interviewees will be informed about the nature of research and ensured that the information about them may be depersonalized.




You are reminded that it is a breach of University Assessment regulations to copy or use another person’s work without proper acknowledgement. It is also an assessment offence for two or more students to present the same or substantially similar piece of work. Any student who is found to be in breach of assessment regulations will be subject to an appropriate penalty (ranging from failure of the relevant unit to expulsion from the University).

A breach of assessment regulations cannot be excused by ignorance or external pressures.


No part of your work, except where clearly quoted and referenced (ie: correct use of quotation marks and footnotes etc.), may be copied from material belonging to any other person. You should employ a consistent referencing system throughout your work. eg:


Books: author, title, place of publication, publisher and date

Articles: author, title, journal, volume, year and first and last page numbers

Edited works: author, title of chapter followed by “in” editor(s), name of the work, place of publication, publisher, date and first and last page numbers of the chapter

Quotations: require the above detail plus appropriate page numbers



This piece of coursework will be assessed by reference to the following criteria:


1. The extent of evidence of knowledge of research methods used in previous research of this type


2. Comprehensiveness and detail of coverage of each required element in the research proposal pro-forma


3. Clarity of understanding of key research terminology


4. Care in identification of potential research designs & appraisal of the cost-effectiveness of each design option






This coursework assessment is designed to allow students to show how the following

learning outcomes have been achieved:


1. Skill in finding, understanding and assessing the utility of previous research


2. Understanding of how to develop and present a design for a criminological research project


3. Understanding of research methods effectiveness, broad cost and reliability







Students are required to answer both of the following and produce a research proposal of 1,300 words in length




Topic 1


A deductive research project to assess why people in a town (population 30,000) partake in shoplifting.





Required Output:


A structured research proposal document using the supplied template, with the following elements:


  • A brief introduction which explains and clarifies the topic to be researched

  • A summary and evaluation of designs and methods used in previous research with similar objectives

  • A description of the range of possible research designs

  • A justification for and detailed description of the preferred design and related data collection methods

  • A flow-chart with associated dates for completing the proposed research

  • A detailed table summarising the resources that would be required for implementing the research design




















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