Taught by A. Potasznik

5 Final Paper Info

Remember that students with a course average of 80.00 or higher on Day 23 may request via email to be exempt from the final paper on that day (not before). Exemptions are not automatic and must be requested on Day 23 (not before) between 12:01am and 8:00pm. Exemption grants or rejections will be sent by the professor within 24 hours. If you have a 79.99 average or lower, or do not send an exemption request on Day 23 by 8pm, you are expected to complete and submit the final paper. Exemption results in your final grade being reported as if the final paper were not part of the class (i.e., your weighted average as viewable in Blackboard before the paper due date will be the same average after the paper due date).

  • No late final papers will be accepted. No emailed final papers will be graded.
  • All final paper submissions are graded by the professor. Graders do not contribute to this assignment. As a result, there are no grade disputes for final papers. Once grades are assigned they are final. No revisions or “redos” will be accepted or graded (but you can complete them on your own without a grade for your own improvement). Of course, the multiple workshops offered at the end of each semester are a great opportunity to seek and implement revision suggestions.
  • All final papers must be fully created/written in Google Docs and submitted via blackboard: course materials > final paper as both a file and an “editor” link. Creation and submission tutorial here.
  • Final papers must be submitted via blackboard by the date indicated on the syllabus.
  • You should clearly specify in the title of your final paper either “Scenario (+#)” or “News article.”
  • As always, your heading should be 2 lines or less.
  • As always, terms should be in bold (for the first use only), defined, and connected to your specific topic. Class terms that are extremely relevant but omitted from the student’s paper will result in deductions.
  • As always, the document must be in .docx or .pdf format (pdf preferred) and uploaded to Blackboard in the correct folder.
  • As always, the paper should be in 12-point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, left-aligned (not justified), with normal (1”, 1.25”) margins.
  • While the planning stages of 9.3.1 methodology elements may take many forms, including charts, bullet points, etc., your paper must be in essay format (see specifications below). The preliminary/planning documents should be uploaded as a separate file in the same link with your final submission.
    • Lucky you! A fellow student has provided an outline you can use for the 9.3.1 methodology via Google docs. Select File > Make a Copy to create your own editable version. Thanks to Leo and Michael!
    • You can also use the software shown in class for outlining: Junkyard is free to download, but  it’s only for mac :-(. Another option is mind mapping software from Google, also free and not system-specific: https://www.mindmup.com/
  • As always, quotes of more than 40 words a) should be in a block quote, according to APA guidelines and b) are strongly discouraged for this assignment. Large quotes like this are appropriate for research papers that are dozens of pages long; there are no such assignments in this course.
  • It is both acceptable and encouraged to use first person when writing this paper.
  • This page lists some common mistakes to avoid in your writing.
  • This page gives very basic writing advice.

You may choose 1 of 2 options for the final paper topic:

  • A scenario chosen from the Scenarios Slides
    • CS285 scenario final specifications
    • Make sure to identify the decision to be made and the role of the decision maker by the end of the introduction.
    • Scenario style papers are not required to, but may, have “real world” outside resources cited (e.g., websites, academic articles, etc.). Since these are secondary sources and not the basis of your paper, there are no recency requirements for them.
    • If we use a scenario for in-class or homework-based explanation, that scenario may not be chosen by students for final papers. These include scenarios 1, 2, and/or 3.
    • Careful! Some scenarios are based on real-life situations, but you should NOT base your analysis on the real life event. Rather, treat scenarios as hypothetical situations.
    • When you introduce your scenario, you should not copy and paste it from the scenario slides. You should paraphrase the scenario and add plenty of your own interpretation/transition statements. You can even add new details in order to clarify some of the vague or missing information, or lend narrative elements to your paper to make it less boilerplate. The scenario itself does not need to be cited even though it comes from an outside source.
    • They will definitely need class slide citations for definitions (see maroon text below).
  • A news article, no more than 3 months old at the time of submission
    • CS285 final specifications article version
    • Make sure to identify the decision to be made and the role of the decision maker by the end of the introduction.
    • Article-based final papers will have at least one outside source (the article), and will probably also include information from class slides (see maroon text below). They may also have secondary and tertiary outside sources. These extra references can be older than 3 months old; however, the main article must meet the recency requirements.
    • While you may use the same article and topic as a weekly write-up for your final if the recency requirement is still met, you may not copy any sentences from your previous write-ups to your final paper*. This practice is clearly labeled as grounds for a 0 on the assignment in both the syllabus and the plagiarism statement for this course, to which you agreed at the beginning of the semester.
      • *Term definitions may be identical in both a write-up and final paper as long as they are correctly cited.

This page may be helpful for you in the analysis phase.

Remember that the 9.3.1 methodology is a decision-making tool. As such, it only makes sense when you apply it after identifying a “crossroad” within an issue that requires a decision to be made. You will also need to explicitly state the perspective you are taking if it is not clear from the scenario. This information should be clear by the end of your introduction.

For example, let’s say you’re writing your final paper on a news article about the Mexican government hacking the phones of journalists to discover sources. While the event itself did not have you as a protagonist, for your paper you may include a sentence such as this one:

“While exploring this issue, I will assume the role of a government employee tasked with hacking the phones. The ethical issue that will be discussed in this paper is whether, or to what degree, I should follow orders.”

Of course, cite outside sources. But also, regardless of your topic choice, all final papers must include citations for definitions/quotes that originated in our class

I will allow this be done as a website citation rather than a powerpoint citation as a time-saving shortcut. Websites are cited as follows: APA. You should include the class day number in the in-line citation. Generally, citing my slides might look something like this:

In your essay:

If the social media site had even a single user in Europe, and were to sell users’ information to third party advertisers, they could be punished under the General Data Protection Regulation, a law in the European Union that restricts such data sales (Potasznik, Day 5).

In your references section:

Potasznik, A. Spring 2019, CSIT285L. Day 5 slides. Retrieved from https://cpb-us-w2.wpmucdn.com/blogs.umb.edu/dist/7/3673/files/2018/05/Day-5-2fehnts.pdf on May 11, 2019.

If you elected to purchase the textbook, you may also cite that as a source as opposed to my website and/or slides.

Both choices also require the 3 phases of the 9.3.1 methodology.

For reference:

  • List all the people & organizations affected (the stakeholders) and their rights (rights may overlap with legal terms, or be interpreted as ‘reasonable expectations’)
  • List risks, issues, problems, and consequences, and to whom they pertain.
  • List potential benefits. Identify who gets each benefit.
  • Cite applicable legal considerations and class terms.
  • Identify vague or missing information in the scenario and how that would potentially affect your decision. Provide answers to the extent that someone in your role can do so. (For example, someone being asked by an anonymous buyer to sell data cannot know what the buyer will use it for. They can assume, or even ask, but the buyer may not be honest and the seller can’t know that for sure.)


  • List potential options
  • Consider the impact of each option on the stakeholders (consequences, risks, benefits, harms, costs)
  • Categorize each potential action as ethically obligatory, prohibited, or acceptable


  • Based on your analysis, make the decision(s) regarding how to best address the situation.

A note on corrupted/unreadable files: As CS/IT students, you probably know that corrupted files are very rare in the wild. Sites and methods that corrupt files intentionally, however, are not rare at all. Some students have decided that they should submit corrupted files in order to buy more time to complete write-ups (and in some extremely unfortunate cases, final papers).

YOU are responsible for uploading your files correctly. If you make a mistake and contact me within a reasonable amount of time (at least 48 hours before the deadline), I can manually clear attempts so you may try again. Leaving corrupted, blank, incorrectly formatted, or incorrect files submitted and only addressing it when you receive a 0 for the grade or when the due date passes will not grant you the same (or any) leniency. 

Note that final papers should be between 3-10 pages. Most papers that earn A/B scores have at least 5 pages.

Final paper example (article version).

Another Article Version Final Example

Final paper example (scenario version).

Final Paper rubric:

Final paper rubric

I will not read entire papers in order to “check” them or proofread them before submission. I will however, be happy to provide answers to targeted questions.

  • No: “Can you read my paper and tell me what to fix?”
  • Yes: “At the end of my second paragraph, I’d like to make sure I cited my source correctly. Can you confirm that my in-line citation is accurate?”

If you’d like to meet during office hours about the final paper, that is fine. However, if optional classes are offered at the end of your semester, you should come to those in lieu of office hours. Only students who attend all of the offered optional classes and still need help should request office hours to discuss the final. Office hours to discuss other issues are always open.

Students may attend the optional workshops for any class section. I.e., if you are in the 11am section, you can also attend the 4pm workshop. See syllabus for section times and locations.

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