Writing for the Criminal Justice Professional

Course Details

Course Number: 2943  Section Number: 101

Fall 2013

Location: Martin Hall

Classroom Number: 108

Days & Times:

T 2:30-5:20

Martin 108

Course Attachments

Course Syllabus  WRITING FOR CJ SYLLABUS-20130903-134937.docx


LB Brief (5th Ed.)  ISBN: 978-0321896667

MSU Faculty Member
Laura Woods Fidelie   
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Course Objectives

At the conclusion of this course, you should have a thorough understanding of research and writing as a criminal justice professional.  You should be able to:


1)      Complete writing assignments using a professional writing style

2)      Conduct thorough and complete research on various criminal justice-related topics

3)      Examine, analyze, and incorporate research into writing assignments

4)      Summarize and paraphrase information in writing, using a concise and eloquent manner

5)      Utilize information from both primary and secondary sources in your research and writing

6)      Document research and writing through use of a professional format and style

Course Expectations

B. D2L


The use of supplemental D2L is required for this course.  It is your responsibility to ensure that you have a working knowledge of the features of D2L.  D2L is the official means of communication for this class.  I will send announcements, class material, and other important information via the email feature of D2L.  D2L may also be used for obtaining and submitting course assignments (more specific information will be given as the course progresses).  You are responsible for checking D2L daily for course-related information.



C. Late Assignments


Students are expected to submit assignments on the due date and late assignments will not be accepted.  Unless prior arrangements have been made with the professor, students will receive no credit for an assignment submitted past the due date.  Assignments are due on the date stated in the syllabus regardless of whether a student is in class on that date.  If a student must miss class on the day an assignment is due, it is that student’s responsibility to make arrangements to submit the assignment on or prior to the due date.



D. Cell Phones and Electronic Devices:


When you enter my classroom, you must turn off and put away all electronic devices unless you have received prior permission from the professor.  The use of cell phones and other unapproved electric devices is prohibited in my classroomIf you plan to use an electronic device (laptop, iPad, etc) for class-related purposes, this must be discussed with the professor and approved in advance.


Texting or using any electronic device in an unapproved manner will result in an automatic deduction of one (1) letter grade from your final course grade.  There will not be any exceptions made to this policy.  Furthermore, I reserve the right to fail any student who engages in these activities during class time.



E. Midwestern State University Student Handbook:


Issues not specifically addressed by the syllabus are governed by the student handbook and the MSU Catalog.  Make sure you have a copy and are familiar with all the procedures therein.  Pay close attention to the Code of Student Conduct section in the handbook.



F. Disabled Student Policy:


In accordance with Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Midwestern State University endeavors to make reasonable adjustments in its policies, practices, services, and facilities to ensure equal opportunity for qualified persons with disabilities to participate in all educational programs and activities.


The Office of Disability Services (ODS) provides information and assistance, arranges accommodations, and serves as a liaison for students, instructors, and staff.  The ODS has assistive devices such as books on tape, recorders, and adaptive software which can be loaned to qualified individuals.  A student/employee who seeks accommodations on the basis of disability must register with the Office of Disability Services in the Counseling Center, Clark Student Center, Room 108.  Documentation of disability from a competent professional is required.


Individuals with grievances related to discrimination or lack of accommodation on the basis of a disability are encouraged to resolve the problem directly with the area involved.  If the matter remains unresolved, advice and/or assistance will be provided by the Office of Disability Services for resolution.  The grievance procedure may be found in the Student Handbook and Activities Calendar.  The Director of the Counseling Center serves as the ADA Coordinator and may be contacted at (940) 397-4618, TDD (940) 397-4515, or 3410 Taft Blvd., Clark Student Center, Room 108.



G. Academic Integrity:


Academic integrity is something that I take very seriously.  As future professionals, it is something that you should take seriously as well.  Establishing ethical work habits and maintaining both your own integrity and that of your profession begins during your education and training.


All writing assignments must be your own original work, created and submitted exclusively for this courseSubmitting a writing assignment identical to or substantially similar to work submitted for any other course will be considered an act of academic dishonesty and will result in an automatic grade of F for the course.


Each student is expected to abide by the rules of ethical and academic honesty as defined by the student handbook.  All cases of academic dishonesty will result in a failing grade for the course and a letter to the Dean of Students requesting that you be withdrawn from the University.  If there are any questions as to whether an action is academically dishonest, please consult with the professor.

H. Class Decorum


Each student is expected to behave in a mature and professional manner throughout the duration of the course.  This is a course in which a significant amount of student participation and interaction is required.  During these interactions, it is inevitable that there will be some disagreement.  This is perfectly acceptable, and such discussion is a valuable part of the learning process.  However, throughout these discussions, you must show respect for the thoughts and opinions of your fellow classmates.  I will not tolerate the use of derogatory or inappropriate language, or other forms of disrespectful behavior. 



I. Syllabus Change Policy:


This syllabus is a guide for the course and is subject to reasonable changes.  Students will be notified of any changes to the syllabus in a timely fashion.  Notice of any changes will be given in class. 



Course Requirements:


            A. Class Participation


Active class participation is one of the most essential parts of a valuable learning experience.  This course will involve some form of activity and participation during each class—your success in the course and mastery of the material depends heavily on your willingness to participate.  Class participation accounts for 5% of your final grade.  Good class participation involves 1) attending all class meetings; 2) coming to class having read the assigned material and having completed any assignment given;

3) voluntary, thoughtful, and respectful participation in class activities and exercises.



B. Class Essays and Paragraph Assignments


A diagnostic paragraph assignment, skills assessment assignment, and two longer essays will be required during the regular semester.  The topics for these paragraphs and essays will be assigned and the specific requirements for each will be given in class.  Many of these paragraphs and papers will involve your observation of a scenario and then writing about various aspects of what you have observed.  These assignments will give you the opportunity to demonstrate the writing skills you have learned up to that point in the course, and will also serve as exercises in editing and revising your work. 







C. Research Paper


40% of your grade will be determined through your submission of a final research paper.  The process of researching, writing, developing, and editing this paper will take place throughout the semester as you learn and develop the skills necessary to write such a paper.


The topic requirements for the research paper will be discussed more extensively in class.  The paper should show your ability to choose an appropriately narrow topic, conduct scholarly research, develop a thesis statement, draft a paper, and revise that paper at various levels to produce a professional work product.  Several progressive steps will be taken in the completion of your final research paper.  All portions of the research paper must be completed in order to receive full credit on the final research paper.  For each portion of the research paper assignment that is not completed in accordance with the deadlines stated in the syllabus and subsequently approved by the professor, one (1) letter grade will be deducted from your final research paper grade.


The paper should be between 12-15 double-spaced pages in length, excluding title page(s), references, and appendices.  The paper should be written in 12-point Times New Roman font with 1-inch margins.  Papers should be carefully edited to eliminate grammatical errors.  For each full or partial page that the research paper is short of the length requirements, one (1) letter grade will be deducted from your final research paper grade.


The paper must utilize a minimum of five (5) scholarly sources.  Your paper may not utilize electronic sources.  For the purposes of this course, electronic sources are unverifiable web pages and other non-scholarly publications found on the Internet.  Books, scholarly journals, and other reliable publications that are accessed by means of the Internet are not considered electronic sources and are perfectly acceptable for use in your paper.  If there are any questions about the acceptability of a certain source, please contact the professor.


APA 6th edition referencing should be utilized throughout the paper.  Exploring the scholarly work of others is an important part of active research.  However, when the work of others is reflected in your own paper, credit must be given through proper citation.  Failure to do this is plagiarism and constitutes academic dishonesty.


Your research paper must be an original work, created and submitted exclusively for this courseSubmitting a research paper identical to or substantially similar to a paper submitted for any other course will be considered an act of academic dishonesty and will result in an automatic grade of F for the course.


More specific information regarding the due dates and requirements for various portions of the paper will be given in class.


*For more information on how your papers will be graded throughout the semester, please see the attached grading rubric.       

Grading Standards

Grading Policy:


            Diagnostic Paper                   5%

            Skills Assessment Paper        10%

First Paper                             20%

            Second Paper                         20%

            Final Research Paper           40%

            Class Participation                5%


            TOTAL                                  100%


Failure to complete any of these assignments will result in a grade of F for the course.


Your grades will be determined on the following scale:


                        90-100             =  A

                        80-89               =  B

                        70-79               =  C

                        60-69               =  D

                        60-below         =  F

Submission Format Policy

Writing assignments are to be submitted as Word attachments via the D2L Dropbox.

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Plagiarism Policy Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception. Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters. We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student. We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed. Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

Students are expected to attend all class meetings for this course, following the university attendance policy.  Attendance is taken at the beginning of class, and a late student is an absent student.  As tardiness is unacceptable in the professional world, it is also not tolerated in my classroom.


This class meets only once a week, so each class absence is the equivalent of missing an entire week of class.  Furthermore, this is a class that requires extensive participation during class.  Missing class will put you at a significant disadvantage for the rest of the semester.  Therefore, each unexcused absence will result in the deduction of one letter grade from your final course grade.  Missing more than three (3) classes will result in an automatic “F” for the course.  If a class absence is unavoidable, you must obtain approval from the professor before missing class; whether or not an absence is excused is solely at the discretion of the professor.


Many important announcements are made during class.  If you miss a class, you are responsible for contacting one of your classmates to obtain notes, hear announcements, and get class updates.  Making up for your absence is not the responsibility of the professor. 

Writing Proficiency Requirement All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed English 1113 and English 1123 and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at http://academics.mwsu.edu/wpr, or call 397-4131.