ECS 188 – Ethics in an Age of Technology – Project Information

Your project is to be based on either on a book or a topic. Here is a list of example books. They’re just examples. I will refrain from giving a list of suggested topics so that you can better let your mind wander. Topics only need to have nonvoid intersection with ethics-and-technology. Don’t make a topic overly broad; I like specificity. I suggest to discuss your topic with me early on.

There are two aspects to the project: a paper and a talk.

1. Paper

The paper should be 2000-3000 words. Please indicate the word count at the beginning of the paper. The paper should be written with an intended audience of me and your classmates. Write something that you yourself would want to be given to read. And, in fact, you will be reading one another’s papers. If you don’t want your last name on this document, for reasons of personal privacy, please reduce it to a single letter.

Your paper should be carefully written, and will be graded for both writing quality and conent. Give full references in the bibliography (eg., author, title, journal, publisher, pages, date; a URL alone does not a reference make). I don’t care what conventions you employ as long as they are reasonable and consistently followed. Include all necessary citations and footnotes. Number all pages. Prominently include the project number on the first page. Follow standard stylistic conventions (any fixed set of conventions you select). If you don’t know standard conventions, check with a source like Strunk (The Elements of Style). Use justified text (no ragged-right margins) and a pleasant-to-read font—not Arial, or any other sans serif font. Number all pages. Do not write stuff off the top of your head! Think, organize, think, and organize. Write, rewrite, then rewrite more.

The paper is a research paper in the sense of learning some of the scholarship for some particular area; it is not a research paper in the sense of doing creative scholarship of your own. Make sure your sources represent actual scholarship, not random web pages, blogs, or the like. While it might not sound nice to say, the truth is that I am not terribly interested in reading page after page of your own ideas on some topic—I want to learn what those who have spent years of effort on the issue have come to understand. You can include your personal opinion—indeed I would like you to—but keep it separate, clear, and short.

Your paper must be uploaded to Canvas. Do this under Assignments: Project: Paper. Please give your paper a file name of p followed by the number assigned to you on the list of student projects followed by the extension; for example, p106.pdf. Only pdf files are permitted.

Paper due dates are as follows:

The deadlines above are the minimum needed to ensure that your classmates, your TA, and I have time to read your paper. As such, late papers will be severely penalized.

You upload one file per group. Remember to include a word count at the top of your file and prominently include your three-digit group number near the title.

2. Talk

Your talk should be 15 minutes. It should be well-rehearsed and all team members must participate. You should use prepared slides for your talks. Most students use PowerPoint, but any other tool will do. Either bring in your own laptop to class or use mine (for ppt, pptx, or pdf based presentations). If you are presenting from an Apple, upload the pdf version. Upload your slides to Canvas at least six hours before class. Do this under Assignments: Project: Talk. Please include the presentation number on your title page. Please name the file as in t106.pptx (or t106.ppt or t106.pdf). Permitted file types are pdf, ppt, and pptx.

Note that an effective presentation does not look like a sequence of bulleted lists. I will spend a bit of time in class talking to you about giving talks.

Talks will occur during the last two class meetings and during the scheduled final-exam slot. TThe final-exam slot will have more, however, including a traditional (but short) final.

Talks should have content different from what’s in your paper; the audience will have read your paper and they won’t want to listen to the exact same stuff again. Besides, what works well in a talk is usually quite different from that what works well in a paper.

3. Further Information

Most people will work in a team of two. There will be at least one team of three if there are an odd number of students. Each team will do one paper and one talk. All team members get the same grade. All team members are expected to work on the paper, and all team members are expected to work on the talk; each must be joint work.

I strongly discourage partnerships between non-native speakers of English, or between individuals who have both done poorly (or not taken) upper-division writing classes. I expect all papers to be in fluent and grammatical English. I take off considerably when this is not the case. Perhaps oddly, I care more about English mechanics than many instructors in English or the University Writing Program. And I expect not only quality prose but, also, attractive typesetting that complies with the information on the course-information sheet.

They’ll be two milestones preceding giving your paper and talk:

  1. Milestone 1 is the project proposal. In it you’ll identify the book or topic you want, and with whom you’ll work. For a book-based proposal you need only to identify the book and your group; for a topic-based proposal explain the scope and conception in about a paragraph, identifying some key sources you will use. Please send Milestone 1 by email to both me and the TA. You must cc your partner. Indeed you need to do this for all communication concerning your project. If you don’t, I will ask you to resend your email. Failing to copy your parter doesn&rsquot; just violate a class rule; it’s rude to your parter. If I don&rsquot;t approve your proposal, you’ll have to find another topic. Leave time for that possibility; sometimes it takes a few tries. Some reasons for my rejecting a proposal include: (a) the book or topic is already taken; (b) it is unclear if there is good scholarship in the area that you will base your project on; (c) the topic or book might not have both an ethics-related and technology-related aspect; (d) I’m feeling bored of the topic.
  2. Milestone 2 is a rough draft of your paper. The draft should be most of your paper—any omitted portion should be modest in breadth and the unfinished portion clearly circumscribed. The fact that Milestone 2 is a non-final draft does not mean that it need not be well written; it should still be careful, grammatical, and organized. You will have time to rework parts and incorporate feedback, but your paper should already have taken on a reasonable form. Please upload Milestone 2 to Canvas by classtime of the day it is due. You upload one file per group. Name the file as in d106.pdf (the d for draft). Include a word count at the top of your Milestone 2, and prominently include your three-digit group number near the title.
The most important thing in choosing a project is to find something that you’re genuinely interested in. The scope of what I’ll approve—almost anything that legitimately has to do with both ethics and technology—is vast enough that you really ought to be able to find something that you’re actually interested in.

4. Academic Honesty

A few policies to point out:

No-double-use policy: Your project should be something ew for you. In particular, you may not select a project topic that largely intersects with a project you already used for another course in the past, or that you will use for another course this term. Both partners are considered to be in violation of the policy if either is.

New-for-you policy: Relatedly, you may not choose a book that you already read, even for fun, before this class. Find something new. If you loved some book you read before and that you think is on-topic, you might try reading another book by the same author.

Plagiarism: You may not use, modify, or refer to any related paper or talk from a former student or professional service. Any material used that is not your own work must be properly credited.

Good luck and have fun!