Research Topic

Qualitative Research In Sentencing

About this Research Topic

While a significant body of research now exists that explores sentencing from many different perspectives, and while different studies employ a variety of methodological approaches to study the sentencing process, quantitative studies aimed at identifying factors that predict sentence outcomes continue to dominate the research literature. In contrast, very few empirical studies explore sentencing from the perspectives of the key players in this process, such as judges, lawyers, prosecutors, and defendants. Fewer still explore the work and perspectives of key players in the spaces that they are immersed in and in which much of sentencing is performed - the courtroom. Of these, only a few employ qualitative research approaches that aim to develop deep understandings to capture the complexity of sentencing processes, as well as the experiences and perspectives of the actors involved.

Qualitative research has obtained a relatively strong position in the humanities and social sciences, but qualitative papers are relatively rare in the domain of sentencing. This Research Topic aims to address this under-representation of qualitative research by providing a space for this type of research in sentencing. Indeed, the focus on the actors’ perspectives, experiences, and beliefs is essential and an added value to understanding and characterize the sentencing process, as it occurs in practice.

We welcome submissions from different judicial traditions, and different disciplines, such as psychology, sociology, criminology, and law, that address the following topics, by means of a qualitative approach:

- descriptions of the sentencing decision-making process;
- judicial culture and sentencing implementation features;
- discretion and disparities in sentencing;
- bias in sentencing;
- defendant related sentencing features;
- methodological discussions on the study of sentencing;
- international comparative studies.


Keywords: Sentencing, judges, criminal courts, defendants, public opinion, lawyers/prosecutors, qualitative research, legal decision-making


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

While a significant body of research now exists that explores sentencing from many different perspectives, and while different studies employ a variety of methodological approaches to study the sentencing process, quantitative studies aimed at identifying factors that predict sentence outcomes continue to dominate the research literature. In contrast, very few empirical studies explore sentencing from the perspectives of the key players in this process, such as judges, lawyers, prosecutors, and defendants. Fewer still explore the work and perspectives of key players in the spaces that they are immersed in and in which much of sentencing is performed - the courtroom. Of these, only a few employ qualitative research approaches that aim to develop deep understandings to capture the complexity of sentencing processes, as well as the experiences and perspectives of the actors involved.

Qualitative research has obtained a relatively strong position in the humanities and social sciences, but qualitative papers are relatively rare in the domain of sentencing. This Research Topic aims to address this under-representation of qualitative research by providing a space for this type of research in sentencing. Indeed, the focus on the actors’ perspectives, experiences, and beliefs is essential and an added value to understanding and characterize the sentencing process, as it occurs in practice.

We welcome submissions from different judicial traditions, and different disciplines, such as psychology, sociology, criminology, and law, that address the following topics, by means of a qualitative approach:

- descriptions of the sentencing decision-making process;
- judicial culture and sentencing implementation features;
- discretion and disparities in sentencing;
- bias in sentencing;
- defendant related sentencing features;
- methodological discussions on the study of sentencing;
- international comparative studies.


Keywords: Sentencing, judges, criminal courts, defendants, public opinion, lawyers/prosecutors, qualitative research, legal decision-making


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2021 Abstract
30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 June 2021 Abstract
30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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