Paper Topic AssignmentFinal paper project – paper topic assignment

by John Bandler

This page is about the course paper topic assignment, where you get to pick your paper topic, perform initial research, and communicate that to me for my feedback. The basics are on this page, with links to documents with more detailed instructions and a template for your submission.

In sum

In sum, you will research a topic relevant to this course and submit a document to propose it to me. You will show your substantial work and research thus far so I can provide helpful feedback and direction.

Use the template I provide and submit a (1) proposed paper title, (2) A single paragraph summarizing your proposed paper, (3) A list of references you have reviewed thus far starting with materials in the syllabus and expanding from there, (4) Any comments or questions for me.

Pick a topic you can put a semester’s worth of work into. Topics may evolve over the semester but wholesale changes will not be allowed. If you are stuck contact me well in advance of the deadline.

Your Word document template with some (limited) instructions

This Word document is your template and it has some abbreviated instructions in it.

Download it, rename it, start building your submission.

Paper topic ideas

You get to pick your paper topic, but it needs to be relevant to the course.

See this Paper Topic Ideas page, and look through the course syllabus.


Researching, writing, and editing are important skills and this is your learning opportunity to improve them. With your effort you will learn. I let you pick your topic, because hopefully you pick a topic relevant to the course that is of great interest to you, or helps for your future career.

In my marathon analogy, consider submission of the final paper at the end of the semester as completion of the marathon, reaching the finish line. This submission should bring you to mile marker 8. If your topic submission is not far along, you will have further to go for the next steps, and it is harder for me to give helpful feedback.

Instructions and submission content

Download the document linked to above, review it, do a "save as", and put in considerable effort, thought, and research before submission.

Have some fun and learn, and move your paper closer to the finish line.

Your document will include these elements:

  • Your name, etc.
  • Proposed title
    • A wonderful, crisp title that informs the reader about what the paper is about
    • Communicate clearly. General rule, choose clarity, don’t be overly clever or cute
    • Topic needs to be relevant to the course
    • See Paper Topic Ideas for general ideas
  • A single paragraph summarizing your proposed paper
    • A paragraph of no more than 250 words that is crisp, well proofread and edited, and gives more information to the reader about what the paper is about.
    • This can eventually become one of your introductory paragraphs for the paper
    • Introduce and summarize your paper and what it will cover.
    • Do not introduce or summarize broad concepts, such as the Internet, cybercrime, etc.
  • References: A list of references reviewed thus far
    • List the references you have reviewed, starting with materials on our syllabus, and expanding from there
    • Don’t worry about citation form yet, but provide enough information so I can find it, including title, author, publication, page, link
    • Read what you have listed, or specifically indicate if you have not read them yet
    • Research starts by reading relevant materials listed in the syllabus, including coursebook and articles (not with Google)
    • List relevant laws, regulations, or cases -- your paper is about law so you need to identify them
    • Leave this in place for subsequent submissions, including the final paper
  • Student comments and questions
    • Leave this in place for subsequent submissions, including the final paper.
    • List any consultations with school library and writing center, including date, time, person consulted
    • How did this submission go for you, and how has the overall process gone thus far for you?
    • Feel free to ask a question or explain anything you are wrestling with, challenges, successes, etc.

More details

  • See my instructions in class (if available)
  • First, make sure you understand the "big picture" and overall goals. Then, think of these details.
  • You pick a topic area relevant to the course.
    • See course discussion, materials, and a list of sample topic areas at
    • You formulate a paper title relevant to the course.
    • See the syllabus, coursebook, all assigned readings. Think of an issue that connects law or regulations with any of our syllabus topics.
    • If you cannot decide, contact me and provide some information about what you are thinking or what problem you are wrestling with (don’t wait until the last minute please).
    • Feel free to bounce any ideas off of me in advance
  • Do reading and research before submission. Put in effort. This is a topic you will have to stick with throughout the semester. Choose wisely.
  • The topic must be relevant to our course and syllabus and should be interesting to you.
  • Invest time in this, and put thought an effort into this. Don’t wait to the last minute, and don’t be late. If your submission is not adequate, you will lose points and put yourself at a disadvantage with future submissions and the paper process.
  • Remember to tie into law or regulation. Not hard to do, we are a nation of laws.
  • It needs to be of proper scope and focus for a relatively short paper.
  • Have fun with the process and learn. You get to pick a topic you are interested in.
  • Learn about the subject matter, improve your research and writing skills, and grow.
  • Follow other guidance specific to the course, and do good work commensurate with your education learning level.
  • Submit as a DOCX, DOC, PDF. Don't use formats the learning management system doesn't like, such as Pages, DOCT, etc.
  • The final paper will not be long.
    • Undergraduate and graduate: Max 2,000 words (about 8 pages) not including references.
    • Law school: Max 3,000 words (about 12 pages) not including references.
  • Consult my resources as linked to on this page
  • Feeling uncertain, unsure, confused?
    • Reread instructions as needed
    • Ask in class, or email me
    • I can assign you a topic.
    • Remember too that life is full of uncertainties, so working through them, in the context of goals and instructions, is park of the learning process.

Effort and grading

Do this as if it will be graded and it may be graded. I reserve the right not to issue a grade.

Put in good effort.

Research resources include

Writing resources include

Paper project phases

Watch me walk through these instructions in a short video

Posted 6/26/2022 based on years of teaching. Updated 1/18/2023