Final Research Project

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Research Project

topic of your project needs to be a contemporary societal problem,
such as healthcare reform, immigration reform, privacy rights,
euthanasia, First Amendment Rights, stem cell research, capital
punishment, corporate prisons, legalizing drugs, ageism, animal
rights, cloning, prayer in schools, racial profiling,
recycling/conservation, sexism, outsourcing jobs, workplace bullying,
etc. The topic must focus on a single aspect, as in “How far do
corporations intrude into the private lives of their employers?” or
“The social costs of financing the distribution of custom-designed
drugs.” You may suggest another topic to use, but the instructor
must approve the topic during the Week Two Discussion.

Final Research Project will present research relating the
responsibilities of a critical thinker to contemporary society. In
this assignment, you will do the following:

  • Research
    one aspect of a contemporary social problem.

  • Define
    the problem.

  • Propose
    a possible solution for the problem.

  • Create
    an argument that supports your thesis position. You should take on
    the perspective of a critically thinking researcher. The argument
    must present a thesis statement and evidence to support the thesis

  • Evaluate
    the ethical outcomes that result from the position you take on the
    issue and explain how those outcomes would influence society and

  • Interpret
    statistical data from at least two peer-reviewed scholarly sources.

  • Evaluate
    evidence using the following standards: validity, reliability, and
    bias related to the chosen topic and accurately identify strengths
    and weaknesses.

and Define the Problem

must take on the perspective of your major field of study and explain
in your paper what that perspective is and how it informs your view
of the topic. The topics listed above are far too broad to write
about in 10–12 pages (3,300–3,900 words). Instead, you must
choose a narrowly defined thesis and approach it from the perspective
of your field.

Example: If
you are an economics major, and you are interested in immigration
reform, you should approach a very specific aspect of immigration
reform through the lens of economic theory and practice. A specific
thesis question would not be, “How does illegal immigration
influence the U.S. economy?” One could write thousands of pages on
such a topic. Instead, a better question would be, “How do illegal
immigrant hotel workers in Chicago impact the economy of Northern
Illinois?” You would then want to do the research and determine the
positive and negative impacts they have, ultimately trying to
conclude how illegal immigration in this area should be approached

to Hone Your Thesis: 
is important that you start your research early in this course. Try
to find the most important contemporary questions and theories in
your field of study and then align the most important questions with
a very specific aspect of the general topics above. For example, if
you are a psychology major, you might want to start thinking within
the realm of healthcare reform or aspects of mental health and
criminality in the prison system.


must present a complete argument, including a major claim with at
least five points of evidence, information, or data that will prove
the claim.

  • The
    thesis statement must be

    • A
      clear, simple declarative sentence as the first or last sentence in
      the opening paragraph of the essay.

    • Of
      such a nature that it can be substantiated, corroborated, verified,
      and proved through appeal to primary or secondary academic research
      source materials.

  • The
    introductory paragraph must

    • Present
      the thesis statement, an explanation for the importance of the
      topic, and its relation to the student’s field of study.

  • Beliefs,
    opinions, and personal opinions must not be introduced at any point
    in the essay.

  • All
    beliefs and opinions should be supported with academic evidence.
    Sweeping generalizations with no supporting academicevidence
    do not reflect adequate critical thinking skills.

  • Do
    not include rhetorical questions in your essays. All the questions
    that are pertinent to your project need to be answered in your essay
    and your answers again need to be supported with evidence from
    peer-reviewed journal articles and academically published books.

of Good Critical Thinking in Papers

  • Your
    paper should include academic sources that explain multiple sides of
    the issue.

  • The
    evidence that you use should come from high-level researchers
    engaged in your field of study.

  • Your
    interpretations of the evidence should be objective and state the
    conclusions and theses presented in the evidence clearly and fairly.

  • Your
    paper should place the various forms of evidence in relation to one
    another and demonstrate why one form or perspective is stronger than
    the other positions that one could take on the issue.

  • Your
    paper should point out the limitations of current evidence and
    attempt to indicate areas for future research.

Outcomes of the Position You Take

you have defined the problem and created an argument about how one
ought to respond to the issue, you need to explain the ethical
outcomes of the position you have taken. This should again be in
relation to the field of study in which you are working. There might
be different ethical outcomes that result from your analysis. For
example, going back to the example issue above, from an economic
standpoint, illegal immigrants might contribute positively to the
economy of Northern Illinois in a specific number of ways. Thus, an
economist who believes that positive impact to the economy is the
greatest good would say that one should promote the use of illegal
immigrants. However, because these workers are often paid less than
others and eliminate jobs that could be done by residents of Chicago,
there could be other negative ethical outcomes that would outweigh
the positive impacts to the economy. It is your goal to draw out the
ethical implications of your thesis and explain the underlying
rationale that is the foundation for your claim that one action is
better than another.

  • Critical
    thinkers are those who can outline the positive and negative ethical
    impacts of their positions. In addition, they are able to provide a
    rationale for why they believe a specific position is the right
    position, even when it leads to negative outcomes.

  • Critical
    thinkers are also able to be honest and objective about the
    limitations and gray areas that pertain to their theses.

Research Project Requirements

Final Research Project may be presented as a formal research paper
(essay format), a PowerPoint presentation, a video, or a podcast
equivalent to a minimum of 10 – 12 pages in APA format
(approximately 3,300 – 3,900 typewritten words, excluding title
page and reference pages).

presentations must include the full text (at least 3,300 words) in
the speaker notes portion of the slides, with appropriate citations,
and full reference pages. PowerPoint presentations must adhere to the
basic principles of PowerPoint
presentation design
must include citations and references according to APA standards and

and podcasts must include a full transcript, in APA format, including
appropriate in-text citations and a references page.

must be no more than 15% quoted content in the body of your essay.
All quoted material must bear quotation marks and a full quotation


  • There
    must be 10 or more source documents used, cited, and referenced.

  • Multimedia
    sources (such as videos) may be used, but no more than two such
    sources may be used. If multimedia sources are used, then they must
    be authored and distributed by credible sources, such as
    universities, law schools, medical schools, or professors, or found
    in the Ashford University Library.

  • Where
    print documents are used for source materials, those must be
    peer-reviewed, scholarly journal articles, and academically
    published books. Popular media sources (e.g., newspapers, magazines,
    television and radio shows, etc.) may not be used. Materials from
    advocacy groups (e.g., Greenpeace, Human Rights Campaign, National
    Organization for Women, etc.) may not be used.

  • Two
    of the peer-reviewed scholarly sources used must include statistical
    evidence, which must be accurately interpreted.

  • Sites
    such as and Wikipedia should not be used.

  • Religious
    texts are neither peer-reviewed nor scholarly and so may not be used
    in any way.


must have a summary conclusion as the last paragraph(s) of the
project, presenting the major point of the essay and the evidence
supporting that point.


content body of the project must be 3,300 words or more. The word
count does not include anything in the title page, running header, or
reference list. It is expected that you meet all logistical
requirements of this paper.


  • The
    list of references must include only those source documents that are
    cited within the body of the project.

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