Common Topic Paper

Project Overview

For this class’s final project, you’re going to explore a topic that is relevant to the professional identity that you’ve been exploring throughout the semester. In order to do this, you will be researching a professional topic that has relevance to two different career areas or fields of study, one of which is the one you are pursuing. For this project, you’ll go through all the major steps required for an original research project, first doing exploratory research, then a topic proposal, then a draft, and, finally, a polished paper. The final paper should have a clear, compelling thesis, demonstrated by way of research and critical thinking. Remember that just like other thesis statements you have written for this course, you thesis needs to go beyond simply stating that two different career fields or areas of study have an in issue in common and that they view the common topic in certain ways. Make sure you’re taking that next to step to argue for a stance regarding that common topic.

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The Assignment: Write an extended research paper that compares two different professional perspectives on a topic relevant to each of the professional fields. Here are some possible approaches:

The common topic can be a trend, new or old, that affects work in each of the professions. For example, digital record keeping has expanded in healthcare in recent years, so cybersecurity and healthcare professionals will have specific viewpoints regarding patients’ digital records. Another example might be the use of psychological professionals in law enforcement. Two professional perspectives that would be interested in expanding psychological services in law enforcement might be public safety managers, like police chiefs and commissioners, and social workers. Other interested parties might include lawyers or psychologists themselves. There are numerous trends in society, politics, academia, economics, science, and other fields to draw upon. It’s your job to identify how that trend is of common interest or impact among two career fields or areas of study.
The common topic can relate to single significant event, recent or further past, and how that event has shaped or impacted the two career fields or areas of study. For example, the passage of the Affordable Care Act changed the way both health care professionals and insurance companies practice their trades. Another example might be that the invention of virtual meeting software, like Zoom, Adobe Connect, WebEX, etc., has allowed for more meaningful remote interaction. Educators and business people alike will have a stake in this conversation. Keep your discussion here focused on how the event has changed the way the career fields or areas of study operate.
A third option might be to consider a fairly broad area of experience. For example, you might explore how the use of technology in the classroom has impacted or disrupted both education and software development. A second example might be how approaches to collaboration across industries has changed due to COVID-19 or due to the rise of the “open-office” or shared workspaces. Still another way might be to examine how ethical codes of conduct have evolved in two related career fields or areas of expertise.

Whichever approach you choose, and keep in mind that the above examples are by no means exhaustive, be sure to argue, support, and explain a compelling, original thesis that not only addresses the similarities and differences in the perspectives of the two career fields or areas of study, but also that the thesis addresses some larger meaning or significance that is important to both of the professional perspectives.

Overall Expectations

Refining the Focus: For this paper, you’ll need to spend more time thinking about the topic you’ll research, and you’ll also need to determine which professional fields you would like to compare. One strategy for identifying a topic of common interest is to search for editorial articles in trade publications, since these articles often talk about current issues in the field. Sometimes those issues are directly related to collaboration between professional fields. Another strategy might be to think of what attracts you to the professional field you’re pursuing? Has that aspect of the field always been there? Is it relevant to other fields? The class’s Knowledge Base on Professional Identities can provide a good place to explore possible topics and their professional relevance.

Collecting and Analyzing Data: For this paper, you’ll collect your data from a combination of professional and scholarly media, including scholarly journals, professional websites, and trade publications. Use the various databases available to you through the Franklin Library first before searching on the general internet. Databases like Business Source Complete will be quite helpful in finding the high quality, professional resources you’re looking for. Consider using a graphic organizer, table, or other tool to arrange your notes and observations to gather significant information about each professional perspective. One column might include key terms or phrases used by sources in relation to the common topic of interest. Do they differ between professions? One column might collect practical issues documented in sources. Do the professions you are examining recognize the same issues? Another column might collect references to relevant authoritative documents. Do the two professions use the same policies or focus on the same regulations? Whatever data you collect, remember that the goal is to compare similarities and differences in professional perspectives so that you can put them into conversation.

Developing a Thesis Statement: The thesis of this paper will be much like that you developed for the second paper, since they are both based on compare-and-contrast genres. The thesis should make a compelling statement about the similarities and differences between two different professional perspectives on a common topic. Some ways to make the thesis compelling, ambitious, or meaningful are to highlight unexpected or striking differences (and what they mean for your readers), to argue for reasons that two professional perspectives view a common topic alike or differently, or to explore the uncommon or the least obvious connections to a non-specialized audience. There are other approaches to your thesis as well, but make sure that no matter the rhetorical move you make in your thesis, your focus should be on the audience: how are you going intrigue readers to read more about the connections you’re making? What reasons or meaning can you determine that will keep them reading?

Organizing Your Analysis: An extended compare-and-contrast paper can be organized in a few different ways. Here are some strategies to choose from:

Present each perspective in its own focused section and use a third section to make direct comparisons.
Present a focused section explaining the one professional perspective, and then dedicate one or more sections to reconciling that perspective with observations made about the other professional field’s approach to the topic.
Compare the two professional perspectives feature by feature, depending upon the subtopics associated with your larger topic. For example, the very broad topic of technology can be broken down into information security, tech training, database development, etc. Focus, of course, on those subtopics that offer the most instructive comparison.

However you organize your analytical points, keep in mind both the general goal of executing a compare and contrast organizational structure and the idea that these comparisons and contrasts should mean something to your reader beyond your identifying them.

Specific Expectations for the Final Deliverable:
The paper must be formatted and documented following APA recommendations (for specifics, see the assignment sheet for the final draft).
The paper must be between 1500 and 2000 words (not counting the title page or References page).
At least eight sources from two different professional fields must be referenced in the body of the paper and on the References page. You’ll need to have a balance of popular and professional sources to successfully demonstrate your thesis.
The paper must be submitted to Turnitin, and it must be plagiarism-free. Be sure to correct inappropriate references before turning in your final version through the Submit tool.

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