For your final research paper in this course you will write an analytical research paper addressing a major issue of your choosing from among the topics covered in this course. As a research paper, your paper will have to answer a significant puzzle related to a course topic. 

In this week 2 preliminary assignment, you are expected to identify a paper topic, to outline the puzzle/research question your paper is going to address, and to provide a list of at least 10 academic/peer reviewed sources that you will use in your final paper.  All references should be in proper APA format.   Scoring Rubric:    A copy of the complete scoring rubric for this assignment is provided in the Writing Resources module within the course lessons. The following is a synopsis of that rubric.    Area of Evaluation  Maximum PointsFocus/Thesis20Content/Subject Knowledge20Critical Thinking Skills20Organization of Ideas/Format20Writing Conventions 20


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Research Topic-Question Development
The idea for the paper is to address a problem you see within the HLS environment. I know that it is early in the class, so you may feel it a bit of a stretch to have identified a research problem within the second week. However, there is a good way to attack this.  
The first step is for you to identify an area of HLS that interests you.  This could be prevention of attacks, the potential for terrorists to use a particular weapon, the capability to respond or any of a number of other issues you may see. Also, is there a particular HLS threat that is of interest (WMD, risk management, port security, border security, etc.)? To further aid in this is there an area that you believe is more at risk or that you want to examine the risk to a specific area/system. Examples of this could be the risk to a subway systems, rail transport, aviation, maritime/ports, urban areas, rural areas, a particular critical infrastructure sector, etc. 
Once you have done this reflection you move to the second stage of the process, to scan some of the literature out there.  Drawing on what you did in the first step, you can develop some key words that allow you to do a search for appropriate research.  An example may be to enter the terms of chemical, subway and terrorism for a search. One could further refine their search to peer reviewed articles published between 2012 and the present.  Such a search reveals 12 articles. Looking at the articles one may find some that the title interests them. Taking a look at the abstract of the article, a researcher can see if it is a paper on an area that interest them and if so download the paper for more review.  At the same time, the researcher can capture the key words for that paper as those words may allow them to better refine future searches. 
The next part is to review the article(s) chosen and look at the research problem and question the article provides as well as the conclusions, which may indicate where future areas of research are needed. Doing this for a few articles, one should be able to get a better sense of the research puzzle these researchers were working with and have developed a sense of a piece of that research puzzle that warrants further exploration/research. 
Now is the time to start crafting that research question. To start, develop the problem you are seeking to explore. This is actually a very refined type of statement. You cannot be broad as that is likely just the issue the problem falls under. An example is of this would be someone who states that the problem is there is a potential for the use of WMDs in the United States. This is more of the broader research puzzle. Making up this macro problem is a wealth of more specific issues that form pieces of this research puzzle. It may be the likelihood of a specific from of attack, the most likely way a particular WMD agent could be obtained, the preparedness of a locale or the country for a specific form of attack, or a variety of other specific problems. 
The idea of one’s research is to look at one of these specific problems so that the research can answer a question related to the problem which will allow for the development of new understanding that can provide a benefit to the community the research is intended for. Taking the earlier example a researcher may say past history has shown the potential for terrorists to attack transit systems. Understanding the most likely form of attack could allow governments to better prepare for and respond to such events. This enhanced capability for response could save the lives of people in the event of such an attack. So putting all that together, an initial research question may be something like: What form of WMD attack is most likely on a subway system in the United States? In this question you are looking at whether the attack would be chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear. Another question that could be asked is: What types of sensors would provide the most comprehensive indication of a WMD attack on a subway system?  
Hopefully this answers your questions and gives you a sense of how to proceed with your project.

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