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MDS: Capstone: Topics & Research Ethics

Research resources and guidence for students in MDS Capstone courses

Be a researcher!

  • Choose your topic (use the two databases to the right to help)

  • Create a research question

  • Gather facts

  • Form an opinion (it is crucial not to form an opinion before you gather facts! - it will be an uninformed opinion and may taint your research)

  • Do not ignore information that does not support your thesis. Include it and address it.

  • Be as objective about issues in the humanities as you are about issues in the sciences.

  • Write your thesis as a question. This is the research question you are investigating.

In a science lab, the question might look like this:

  • What happens when we mix vinegar with baking soda?

(This can be a controlled experiment demonstrated by either blowing up a balloon or creating an explosive model volcano.)   Vinegar is water with about 3 percent of a chemical called Acetic acid. Baking Soda is a compound called Sodium Bicarbonate, also known as Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate (NaHCO3), and is a base. 

So the reaction occurs: 

Acetic Acid + Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate ---> Water and CO2 and Sodium Acetate (or more specifically, aqueous sodium ions and aqueous Acetate ions, but evaporate the water away and you should get sodium acetate, a salt -- sodium acetate is used to de-ice airport runways. It has the property that dry sodium acetate emits heat when it dissolves in water). 

CO2 (carbon dioxide) is the gas that's produced and that expands the balloon. The trick of the project is to get enough CO2 produced and to make the seal between the container you're mixing the baking soda and vinegar in sealed well enough so the CO2 doesn't leak out. It takes some pressure to inflate a balloon, so some CO2 may escape if the seal isn't tight.

Example Research Questions:

  • What is the economic impact of mountain top removal?

  • How effectively does the penal system reform inmates?

  • What are the current theories regarding extraterrestrial life?

  • Should drug use be treated as a law-enforcement issue or a public-health matter?

  • Is U.S. tap water safe to drink?

CQ Researcher

CQ Researcher

  • Search or browse for topics

  • Look for background information

  • Notice the Pro/Con articles. It is important to show that you acknowledge and understand many sides of an issue.

Points of View Reference Center

Points of View Reference Center

You can Browse by Category or by Topic to find an issue to research.

Use this database to get:

  • journal articles
  • newspaper articles