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 UMGC 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 formatting resources in the UMGC Library Citing and Writing Portal. 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 should or 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). Provide 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 for your choices based on the resources you found;
  • It will discuss an 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 road map to an organized paper. Draft, sleep on it, and edit. Repeat.

Your paper will be five to seven 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 UMGC Library Citing and Writing Portal. You may find the sample APA paper linked from the portal helpful as well.

Your headings will follow this general pattern:

        Paper Title (First level position, not bold)

        Findings (First level heading, centered, bold)

Top Trends of the _____ Industry (Second level heading, bold, flush left)

An important emerging issue in a trend (and what it means in context to the industry) (Second level heading, bold, flush left)

        Conclusions (First level heading, centered, bold)

        References (New page, first level position, not bold)

Milestone: Many students are asked to resubmit their papers based on incomplete or inaccurate citation formats. This milestone will get you off to a good start with APA citations and enable your faculty member to check your trends. By the end of Week 2, submit a shell of your paper with the following elements:

  • a cover sheet in good APA format;
  • a “template” for your paper that includes the headings;
  • your opening paragraph that will introduce the industry, the top trends, the issue that you have chosen, and the question that you pose to answer; and,
  • your draft References page.

Please use the APA style guide or References and Citations to draft your complete citations. This is an opportunity 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 it for your project submission at the end of Week 3.

Step 4: Submit Your Paper and Share Your Research Experience

After editing and re-reading your assignment again for errors in writing and citing, please submit your project in the assignment folder by the end of Week 3.

Also, please share your industry issue with your classmates in the Project 2 discussion area. Were there any particular epiphanies or hardships that you encountered in your research and writing process? Please feel free to interact with your classmates in any constructive way.

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