A concept paper to support their reasoning for choosing their topic for their final project in week 7.


In week 4 for students will write a concept paper to support their reasoning for choosing their topic for their final project in week 7.

In other words, in week 4 you are going tell the reader (the instructor) why you think your topic for your final project is worth doing. You are going to justify this as a proposal. Here is the purpose of writing a concept paper:

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Purpose of a concept paper

The topic for your week 4 concept paper will be the same as your final project; they are linked together. The week 4 concept paper justifies the writing of your final project.

Submit a 3 page concept paper IAW APA format on an approved topic (see pre-approved topics in the syllabus). Paper organization will include (use as headings):

  • Coversheet
  • Introduction.
  • Problem Statement.
  • Relevance and Significance.
  • References (at least five).

Pre-approved research topics:


  • Authentication/Digital signatures


What Is A Concept Paper?

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(a 1-page outline)

by Jim Spickard

Typically, a concept paper contains these elements:

All research projects need a concept paper: a short summary that tells the reader what

the project is, why it is important, and how it will be carried out. Even if no one else ever

reads it, the concept paper helps a researcher spot holes in her or his project that might

later prove fatal. It is far better to be clear at the beginning than to put in a lot of effort for



1. A clear description of the research topic, including a summary of what is already known about that topic.


2. A one-sentence statement of the research question that the project will seek to answer. (This is almost always something that is not known.) The concept paper should connect this question to the existing literature — something that almost always takes more than one sentence to accomplish.


3. A demonstration of why it is important to answer this research question. What good comes of this answer? Why is this project worth anybody’s time?

4. A description of how the researcher plans to answer the research question. This includes:

a. a description of the data that the researcher plans to gather or use;

b. a description of how the researcher will analyze these data;

c. a demonstration of how these data and this analytic method will answer the research question; and

d. a summary of any ethical issues that may arise in the research process.


5. A statement of the limitations of this research, specifically the things that it cannot discover (and why).


6. Longer projects — term papers, masters’ theses, dissertations, and professional research — also typically include a selected bibliography.

Concept papers typically range from 2 to 5 double-spaced pages (500 to 1250 words), not counting bibliographies. Longer projects spend more time reviewing what is already known about a topic, typically drawing on several different scholarly literatures to do so. Shorter projects do not need such depth. Some projects, notably honors theses, dissertations and professional research, later develop the concept paper into a formal research proposal, which covers the above points in greater depth. Different advisors and granting agencies call for different

amounts of detail. It is a rare proposal, however, that takes up more than 20 double- spaced pages (5000 words). A concept paper is a good first step in such proposal development. In any case, the point of a concept paper is to provide a clear summary of the research project. It should enable a casual reader to understand what the researcher is investigating, why it is important, and how the investigation will proceed.