Step 1: Conduct Research to Identify Top Trends in Federal Acquisitions or the Contracting Officer field. A trend could be something well-known in the industry, a new development, or something you consider unrecognized or disputed. You will use your research to provide evidence for your conclusions about the trends you choose, and your initial choices may change as you read more deeply. Review resources that you find in periodicals, journals, newspapers, industry blogs, and other websites to choose the best references to inform your choice of trends. Use industry-specific keywords, and take notes on your reading because you will be building on this research in the next step as you choose an issue within one of the trends. Searching for relevant and timely sources and gathering citation details may take up to three hours. After you have identified the top three trends in your industry, move on to the next step to investigate a specific issue. APA Citation Once you decide what to resources you will use to support your paper, be sure that you provide complete citations in APA format on a References page.
Step 2: Choose an Issue to Research Further In the last step, you used research to identify three top trends in Federal Acquisitions or the Contracting Officer field. 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 you to review the trends, develop a plan to research the issue further, and synthesize the information you find into a coherent, well-supported analysis. First, you will develop a focused research question or statement of the problem. This is like the starting point for solving any problem with the scientific method: You must first identify the problem. Then, when you have researched a bit more, you will form a reasonable assumption (a hypothesis) of a potential resolution or answer. You will look for more information that reflects different viewpoints on the issue and use analytical thinking to arrive at a well-reasoned conclusion. This conclusion may or may not bear out your original assumption; however, your goal is to arrive at an answer that is well-supported and based on facts. Remember, you are considering the impact of this issue on your industry, so your analysis may be a 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 statement of the problem and ask yourself, “so what?” 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, move on to the next step, in which you will draft your research paper.
Step 3: Writing your Research Paper
In the previous two steps, you performed research, 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 it is time to draft your paper.
Your research paper should accomplish two objectives:
- Identify the three top trends in Federal Acquisitions or the Contracting Officer field and your rationale, based on the resources you have found, for your choices.
- Discuss the 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.
Your paper will be five to seven pages, not including your cover page and References page(s), double-spaced and set up in APA standard formatting. It does not require an abstract.
Start with an outline and flesh out the main themes with supporting statements. This will become your roadmap to an organized paper. Draft, sleep on it, and edit. Repeat.
Refer to References and Citations to ensure that you are using in-text citations to give credit for others’ ideas and to build your credibility as a researcher, neither ignoring sources nor quoting excessively. Your citations, both in-text and on the References page, should follow the APA citing.
Your headings should follow this general pattern:
Paper Title (first level position, centered, 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, bold)
Check Your Evaluation Criteria
APA 7th Edition Format
- 1.1: Organize document or presentation clearly in a manner that promotes understanding and meets the requirements of the assignment.
- 1.2: Develop coherent paragraphs or points so that each is internally unified and so that each functions as part of the whole document or presentation.
- 1.3: Provide sufficient, correctly cited support that substantiates the writer’s ideas.
- 1.4: Tailor communications to the audience.
- 1.5: Use sentence structure appropriate to the task, message and audience.
- 1.6: Follow conventions of Standard Written English.
- 2.1: Identify and clearly explain the issue, question, or problem under critical consideration.
- 2.2: Locate and access sufficient information to investigate the issue or problem.
- 2.3: Evaluate the information in a logical and organized manner to determine its value and relevance to the problem.
- 2.4: Consider and analyze information in context to the issue or problem.
- 2.5: Develop well-reasoned ideas, conclusions or decisions, checking them against relevant criteria and benchmarks.