CS150 -- Computer Ethics
Spring, 2006
Term Paper Specifications
(last updated 3/29/2006)

Your research paper plays an important role in what you learn from this course and in how I evaluate your performance.  Apart from contributing to the overall goals of the course, I expect the term paper to help you think more carefully and critically, and to give you an opportunity to hone your writing skills.  I'm framing the paper in terms of three deliverables: a project proposal, a detailed outline, and a final draft.

Paper Proposal

It is important that you choose a topic that interests you.  If you select such a topic, you will end up with a stronger paper and you will have more fun in the process.  The challenge in selecting a topic is hitting the sweet-spot between too general of a topic about which you can say nothing in 5 pages, and too narrow a topic about which you can say nothing.  I encourage you to discuss prospective ideas with me during office hours.  Try to formulate a question about your topic of interest.  The question should not have an obvious answer but should be something about which you can begin to answer after some research.

Your proposal should consist of a title, a centering question, a description or elaboration of the question, a justification or motivation for why the question is worth asking and answering, and a reference list including at least five (5) non-web sources that you might use.  (You are not locked into those particular resources.  I just want you to base your proposal on access to real sources.  Altogether including reference list, you should use no more than two pages for the proposal.

Detailed Outline

Your second deliverable shall consist of a detailed outline and an annotated bibliography.  This deliverable should conclude the lion's share of your research.  At least 95% of your reading and thinking should be done.  The outline should be detailed to the paragraph level at a minimum.  If you have never done a detailed outline, talk to me about its nature so that you will have the proper level of information.  Your detailed outline should be about three (3) pages single-spaced (not including bibliography).  The annotated bibliography should include the sources you ended up using together with a summary paragraph or three describing each source and how you used it.

Final Draft

From your detailed outline, it should be a simple matter of writing the paper.  This should almost be a mechanical exercise.  You are limited to five (5) pages (not including references) formatted at 11pt font double-spaced with 1.25" margins on all four sides.  If you find yourself tempted to pad your paper (having submitted a satisfactory detailed outline), it probably means that you are not writing all the ideas that you identified in your outline.  Indeed, I expect that you will be challenged to communicate your ideas within the page limit.  Make every word count!

Important Dates

3/24/2006: Project Proposal
4/13/2006: Detailed Outline
4/24/2006: Final Draft

Each deliverable is due at 5pm on the respective date.  All deliverables will be submitted via Eureka.  You must submit pdf files for each deliverable.


Your proposal, outline, and final draft will be weighted at 20%, 40% and 40% respectively.  For the proposal, I'll be looking for compliance with the specifications.  For the detailed outline, in addition to the requirements, I'll be looking for a conceptually coherent organization of your outline.  Your final draft will be graded according to clarity, conciseness, and compliance with formatting instructions.