Cyber White Paper


For your first assignment, the goal is to present a clear research proposal (white paper). Your research proposal should be between 4-5 pages in length not including a title page and your reference list. Note: In writing for intelligence, succinctness counts so papers longer than 6 pages (not including title and reference pages) will have points deducted. You are required to develop a research proposal around a specific cyber issue; you can select any issue surrounding the cyber domain (more info below). You are encouraged to check with the professor regarding your topic if you are unsure if it is acceptable.


Your paper will contain:

1) Introduction – Identify a cyber incident or an international situation that contains a significant cyber issue. The topic is intentionally broad to help students pursue a topic related to their research interests. Use this as an opportunity to explore something related to a possible thesis. Assess and provide some contextual information that helps demonstrate your understanding of the nature of the issue or case.

2) Research Question – Clearly state your research question. (Hint: It should be in the form of a question!) As added guidance, I usually recommend only ONE research question…don’t cheat by using a compound sentence. A solid research question usually starts with a “How” “Why” or “What” type of question, not “yes/no” or questions with one-word answers.

3) Purpose Statement – Explain why this issue is important to investigate. What can we learn from this situation? How will the knowledge we gain through your research help our understanding of cognition, information processing errors and/or decision-making errors?

4) Research Design – Discuss your theoretical framework. Here you will summarize/synthesize some of the theories/models and concepts you’ll use to investigate the intelligence/decision-making failures such as consistency theory, balance theory, bolstering, groupthink, etc. Note: Not all research papers will have this section.

5) Methodology – Your method section should discuss how you plan to carry out your analysis. Note: This is NOT a theoretical methodology. Sometimes students will put “This research is going to interview 200 people and use a supercomputer to evaluate the results.” Do not list this type of data acquisition or methodology unless you are going to interview 200 people and use a supercomputer to analyze the results. (If that is the case, please let me know, we need to talk.) You are required to do the actual research you suggest.

Your methods section should identify what kind of study (qualitative vs. quantitative), what you are going to do (case studies, grounded theory, statistical analysis, etc.), your data, your variables, and any biases/limitations to your study. If you have not taken INTEL 500 – Research methods, or some other methods class, (why not?!?!? This should be your first or second class!) I strongly suggest you reach out to the library for some help. They have some great research methods material. Start at the library homepage and look for “Research” near the top of the home page.

6) References – Identify a list of 8 preliminary sources, 6 of which must be from peer-reviewed journals. These must be listed using Chicago author/date References style formatting.

You are encouraged to refer to Belcher, Wendy Laura. 2009. “Editing Your Sentences” In Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks. A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Sage. This resource has an excellent step-by-step process for enhancing your writing.

Heath and Tynan have a short but insightful article on “Crafting a Research Proposal,” which can be accessed at


The format of your research proposal should:

1) Be a total of 4-5 pages in length not including title page and references. In intelligence writing, succinctness counts so points will be deducted if your proposal is longer than 6 pages (not including title page or references).

2) Include a title page, proposal body, and a reference page (title and reference page are not included within the page count). You do NOT need an abstract or table of contents. The literature review is part of the Assignment #2 and is not required for this paper.

3) Have a 1-inch border on all four sides, use Times New Roman-12 point font, be double spaced, and not have an extra space in between paragraphs.

4) Have all references and citations in the Chicago author/date format. This information is from the Master’s Capstone Manual and it should help you develop your research proposal. Students taking the capstone option are required to submit a 5-page research proposal prior to moving forward on their research.

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