In this project, you will search for information that will enable you to identify three top trends in your profession or field. Over the course of the project, you will exercise information literacy skills as you locate and evaluate information, and develop well-reasoned conclusions. Reviewing the many sources available to you, you will choose those that are relevant, timely, and helpful to your quest to understand the issues of your industry. Once you have identified the top trends, you will choose one that is particularly interesting to you or one that you think is the most problematic, and research more deeply to produce an analytical research paper for your team. Your project is intended to prepare the search committee on the issue so that it is well-prepared to interview candidates. This project will prepare you for more complex research projects, as you will refine and hone your ability to create a statement of the problem and find the information you need to produce a well-reasoned, well-supported analysis.
There are four steps that will lead you through this project. Begin by watching the video above, which introduces the project as it might occur in the workplace, and then continue with Step 1: Search Techniques.
When you submit your project, your work will be evaluated using the competencies listed below. You can use the list below to self-check your work before submission.
- 1.1: Organize document or presentation clearly in a manner that promotes understanding and meets the requirements of the assignment.
- 1.2: Develop coherent paragraphs or points so that each is internally unified and so that each functions as part of the whole document or presentation.
- 1.3: Provide sufficient, correctly cited support that substantiates the writer’s ideas.
- 1.4: Tailor communications to the audience.
- 1.5: Use sentence structure appropriate to the task, message and audience.
- 1.6: Follow conventions of Standard Written English.
- 2.1: Identify and clearly explain the issue, question, or problem under critical consideration.
- 2.2: Locate and access sufficient information to investigate the issue or problem.
- 2.3: Evaluate the information in a logical and organized manner to determine its value and relevance to the problem.
- 2.4: Consider and analyze information in context to the issue or problem.
- 2.5 Develop well-reasoned ideas, conclusions or decisions, checking them against relevant criteria and benchmarks.
Step 1: Conduct Research to Identify Top Trends
In this step, you will refine your ability to conduct research for information in academic, public, and web domains. This project will require two different kinds of searches. First, you will perform a brief industry analysis to become more knowledgeable about your industry and how it is classified in national databases. From this initial research, you will learn the codes associated with your industry and you will learn where to find and use business research resources. This should enable you to find more specific search terms to help you find the resources that will help you identify the top trends in your industry. Once you have identified the top trends, you will choose an issue in one of the three top trends and conduct more research to provide an analysis of the issue, its effect on the industry, and how an organization would address this issue – whether to mitigate or to promote – to its own advantage.
Once you have reviewed NAICS and SOC codes and UMUC library resources for conducting research and business research, you will do some in-depth searching for industry trends. A trend could be something that you, as an industry insider is aware of, an emerging trend, or it could be a trend that you think is unrecognized or disputed. You will use your resources to provide evidence for the trends you choose, and your initial choices may change as you continue to read more deeply. Scan resources that you found in periodicals, journals, newspapers, industry blogs, and websites to choose the best references to help you devise the top trends. Use industry-specific keywords and industry codes, and take notes on resources as you read because you will be building on this research in the next step when you choose an issue within one of the trends. Record notes from the resources and record the complete citation in APA format in your draft References page now in accordance with the APA Style Guide Sixth Edition. Be diligent in your choices about the resources you choose.
Searching effectively for relevant and timely sources and recording citation details may take up to 3 hours. After you have identified the top three trends in your industry, you will choose an issue in one of them that is particularly important.
Step 2: Choose an Issue to Research Further
In the last step, you used research to identify three top trends in your industry. That was the first part of the project. Now it is time to focus on an issue within one of those trends that you think is noteworthy in your field. This project requires that you review the trends and develop a plan to research the issue further, and synthesize the information you find into a coherent, well-supported analysis. But first, you have to develop a focused research question or statement of the problem. Consider this step similar to the starting point for solving any problem with the scientific method. You first have to identify the problem. Then, when you have researched a bit more, you will form a reasonable assumption (a hypothesis) of what you think might be a potential resolution/answer. You will look for more information that reflects different sides or viewpoints of the issue, and use analytical thinking to arrive at a well-reasoned conclusion. This conclusion may or may not bear out your original first estimate; however, your quest is to arrive at an answer that is well-supported and based on facts. Remember, your objective is to consider the impact of this issue on your industry, so this may be the first step toward a practical solution for your organization.
So, choose an issue from your research on a trend in your industry that has potential for great impact on the field, and then draft a preliminary question or statement of the problem. Your research should reveal if the question has already been answered, or if there is enough information on the topic. Refine your question or statement and submit it to the “so what” test. Will your answer contribute to knowledge about the issue you have selected? Is the question answerable? Remember that in academic work you would normally avoid normative or open-ended questions, which start with the words shouldor would, or any question that can be answered with a yes or a no.
Once you have chosen your issue and completed enough research to provide a well-reasoned answer (or solution), you will be ready to write your issue paper. In the next step, you will draft your research paper.
Step 3: Writing your Research Paper
In the previous two steps, you performed searches, first to identify industry trends, and then for information about an issue in one of those trends that you consider to be important to your industry. Now you should be ready to draft your paper. This would be a good time to review organization in writing and paragraphs. You might also review the Effective Writing Center’s Online Guide to Writing, a valuable reference to students who seek to improve their writing.
Review your task. You are to provide a research paper that provides a summary of the three top trends in your industry (with associated NAICS codes). Supply sufficient background for your reader that the trend is clear and supported by resources you have found. Review resources in References and Citations to ensure that you are using “in text” citations to give credit for the ideas of other authors and to build your credibility as a researcher, neither ignoring sources nor quoting excessively.
You will develop a paper that accomplishes two objectives:
- It will identify the three top trends in your industry and your rationale, based on the resources you have found, for your choices;
- It will discuss the issue within one of the trends that you deem important, based on the current state of the industry, and will be supported by your analysis of facts and a well-reasoned conclusion of what it means to the industry.
Start with an outline and flesh out the main themes with supporting statements. This will become your roadmap to an organized paper. Draft, sleep on it, and edit. Repeat.
Your paper will be 5-7 pages, not including your cover page and References page(s), double-spaced and set up in APA standards. It does not require an abstract.
Your citations, both “in text” and in References will be in accordance with the APA Style Manual Sixth Edition .
Your headings will follow this general pattern:
- Top Trends of the _____ Industry
- An Important Emerging Issue in a trend and what it means in context to the industry
MILESTONE: Many students are asked to re-submit their papers based on incomplete or inaccurate citation formats. This milestone will get you off to a good start with APA citations. By the end of Week 2, please submit a draft of your References page. Please use the APA style guide or References and Citations to draft your complete citations. This is an opportunity for you to get feedback before your project is graded. When you submit your draft References page for review, your faculty member will provide feedback on your citation format so that you can correct for your project submission at the end of Week 3.