Social Aspects of Information Technology Fall 2018

INFO202: Social Aspects of Information Technology Fall 2018

First Short Paper Assignment: Information Technology Challenges

Due Date: September 23, 2018 (no later than midnight)

1. Topic. This paper should discuss an information technology challenge faced within your major discipline. In other words, if you are an advertising major, identify a challenge posed by information technology in advertising. If you are a chemistry major, identify a challenge posed by information technology in chemistry. (See advice below on choosing a topic.) Your goals for this essay are: (a) identify an IT challenge, (b) discuss three possible solutions to the challenge, and (c) make a case for which of these solutions is the best.

2. Sources. You should locate and read 3 source articles to inform your discussion. One of these can be a non-academic source. It should be from a credible source (from a news or trade journal), and be at least 3,000 words long. One source must be an academic peer-reviewed article that either reports on original research conducted by the authors, reviews several examples of research carried out by other articles (a “review essay”), or discusses law pertaining to the issue (usually from a law journal). This source must be at least 10 pages long (14,000-20,000 or more words). Your third source may be either a non-academic or academic article, following the same guidelines as above. Two of the sources should discuss potential solutions to the IT challenge. You should try to find sources as close to your topic of discussion as possible, but in some cases, the articles will be more generally focused. (For instance, you might find a psychological article on the use of technology that pertains to your issue without necessarily focusing on that issue. Or you might find a discussion of the impact of IT on jobs that mentions jobs in your discipline along with many other types of jobs.)

3. Write-Up. (5-6 double-spaced pages)

Introduction. (1 paragraph) In this style of paper, an introduction provides a “road map” for the rest of the paper. It will include a 1-2 sentence statement of the issue and a thesis statement that tells us what you will be arguing in this paper. Your thesis statement will identify your best solution. The introduction should be concise and matter-of-fact. Do not include vague statements such as “information technology has introduced many problems to society.” Do not include sweeping generalizations such as “communication has been important since the beginning of time.”

Identification of the Issue. (1 page) Describe the challenge, identifying what aspects of information technology are involved, and how these impact your particular discipline. You should include reference to and discussion of an article describing this challenge.

Discussion of Solutions. (2-3 pages) You should identify three potential solutions. One should be individually oriented. In other words, what can a single person in your discipline do in the face of this IT challenge? One solution should be technologically oriented. In other words, what technological changes might address this IT challenge? The third solution should be socially oriented. Are there laws, regulations, industry standards or practices, social mores, or other societal changes that could address this IT challenge? Discuss the pros and cons of each potential solution. Your discussion should include citation to and discussion of at least one peer-reviewed research article that pertains to one of the solutions.

Argument for the Best Solution. (1-2 pages) Having discussed three solutions, you should now make a case for which one is the best, drawing on your evaluations of the pros and cons of each. Caution: Do not make the common assumption that legal and/or other social solutions are “not possible”. Laws and social mores change all the time. This does not mean that social solutions are always the best, but they also should not be lightly dismissed.

Conclusion. (1 paragraph) Your conclusion should not introduce new material. You should summarize your discussion and state the conclusion you have reached (which should be substantially similar to your thesis statement in the introduction).

Citation. You must include citations in your work in APA Style, and include a reference list. Many of the articles for this class use APA citation style, including Willson and Hoffner, et al. You can find assistance in using the style here: There are also numerous other guides to this style online and available in local libraries. Your paper will be downgraded for failing to follow this instruction.

Advice on Choosing a Topic:

Types of challenges to consider:

New ways of doing things emerging through the use of information technologies

Negative impact on the discipline as a whole that relates to information technologies

Loss of jobs or change in job scope related to information technologies

New opportunities that have arisen because of changes in information technologies

Identifying challenges:

Consider materials from classes you’ve taken in your discipline. Have these materials identified issues that would work for this assignment?

Try looking in recent issues of relevant trade or academic journals in your field.

Make an appointment with a professor from whom you have taken or are taking a class in your discipline and ask them what they see as the biggest current challenges in the field and what impact information technologies have on those challenges.

Talk to other students in classes in your discipline. Talk to other students in our class. (We will allow some time in section for topic brainstorming.)

Try online searches that include relevant terms from your discipline, plus the phrase “information technology”.

Make an appointment to talk to your TA or Dr. Kendall about possible topics.

What if I haven’t declared a major?

If you know of a major you are likely to declare, you can use that discipline. If not, you should pick a class that has particularly interested you and consider IT challenges in the discipline of that class. If you are undeclared, please confirm the discipline you intend to consider with your TA or Dr. Kendall.