LP02.1 Assignment: Research Paper Topic

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Learning Plan 02

LP02.1 Assignment: Research Paper Topic

Directions: The Research Paper Topic for your Final Research Paper is due. The case/issue analysis selected by the student is with the approval of the instructor.

Please pick a prior court case dealing with a legal/healthcare issue that interests you, a current legal/healthcare event/issue that is pending or that has been in the news, or any legal/healthcare issue that is worthy of writing about and would be of interest to you or others. Whatever the topic/issue, you should be able to write about it using the criteria outlined below. If the topic does not lend itself to these criteria, it is probably not a good topic to consider. The topic must center on some interaction between the legal system and the delivery of health care services. For an appropriate topic you should be able to rely upon scholarly sources (i.e. published case opinImportant:


This class is “health care law.” Your topic, whatever it is, must focus on the intersection between law and the delivery of health care services. It is not enough if it is deals with some medical topic. It must deal with BOTH law AND medicine.

When you propose your topic, I ask that you include the following information:

  • The name of the case/issue.
  • Preferably, a citation and link to the case and/or an article discussing it. (Believe it or not, I haven’t heard about every court case dealing with health care law yet. 🙂
  • What about this topic interests you and the treatment you would give the subject in your paper.

For example, you could send me an email like this: “I would like to do my paper on the Smith vs. Regional Hospital case, 867 A.2d 283 (N.J. 2002). Here is a link to an article about the case . . . This case interests me because it deals with the limits on what treatment nurse practitioners can provide, and that is a current issue in the field I’m working in. My paper would discuss how the changing standards for what treatment that non-physician medical staff can provide is improving patient care.”

– That will give me an idea of whether the topic would work well for your paper and allow me to help you shape your topic a little bit if need be. Don’t worry if you don’t have a formal citation to a case like in my example, but at least point me to an article or web site where I can read up on your case a little bit. ions, journal articles, and news accounts) and not tabloids or websites. Use the Online Library to ensure that sufficient source material exists to support your proposed paper.

– Google “health care law.” That will lead you to some blogs and sites that discuss current issues in the field (you may want to search with an additional term “-Obama” to avoid being inundated with links to sites about the recent health care reform law). That will help tremendously with your brainstorming.

-You should probably try to find a case or two on a particular topic. It’s okay to write your paper about an “issue” rather than just analyze a single case, but it would be helpful to have at least one case as an example that you can talk about. You do not have to find a formal court opinion for the case that you choose (in fact, unless it has gone to the appeal stage, you won’t find one). Newspaper, magazine, and journal articles discussing the case are sufficient source material.

-You may also want to consult one of the databases in the Online Library, Lexis Academic. This source will give you access to every reported case decision in America. You can search for cases there. Remember, you will need at least 6 sources for your paper and all but maybe one should be peer-reviewed articles or other scholarly material – NOT web sites. (A scholarly article obtained through the virtual library does not count as a web site.) Learn to use the virtual library now and expect to use it to find most of the sources for your paper. (Make sure it is Lexis Academic that you use; there is another Lexis database on there that requires a password; Lexis Academic is accessible to everyone.)

When choosing a topic, try to stay away from hot-button, emotional issues. Every quarter, someone wants to write about “abortion” or Roe v. Wade as a topic. That’s too broad, and too hard for most people to stay objective. In fact, steer clear of abortion altogether. I’ve seen too many students get sidetracked by the emotional issues and political arguments and lose sight of the legal issues. Please, don’t plan on choosing Roe v. Wade as your case. You could write volumes about it (and you only have about 11 pages here) and it’s over 30 years old. Also, try to stay away from trendy topics that are really tabloid material. Do something scholarly and worthwhile, and be creative. Try to write something that could get published in a professional journal.

**Please do NOT choose any of the following topics:***

  • Any topic in any way involving abortion, Roe v. Wade, etc. This is an emotional topic and I’ve seen too many students get caught up in the emotion/religious/moral aspects and lose sight of what we care about, the law. So, I will not approve a topic that is focused on abortion.
  • Jack Kevorkian. Put yourself in my position; how papers would you enjoy reading about Dr. Death? Seriously, he was active 20 years ago. Find something more current and relevant. I would potentially consider topics involving euthanasia, but not focused on Jack.
  • Topics where your sources would mainly be tabloids or People magazine. Prime examples would be the “octo-mom” from a few years ago or Michael Jackson’s death. This is supposed to be a scholarly paper, which requires scholarly sources and weighty subject matter.
  • Obamacare/universal health care, or other current issues that are politically charged. On these topics it’s hard to find source material that aren’t propaganda and no one really has had a chance to evaluate the outcomes yet. For the benefit of your own grade, find something else.

Other than that, just choose a topic that interests you that focuses squarely on the intersection between law and the delivery of health care services. You have tremendous freedom to choose a topic that interests you.

Before you settle on a topic, you should do some preliminary research and make sure that you can find enough scholarly sources to support a paper that is about 9-11 pages in length (not counting title page, abstract page, or reference pages). Don’t forget that you will need to find scholarly sources. In your finished product, only one or, at most, two of your six sourced should web pages. You should rely mainly on published journal articles, news articles, etc. Become friends with the virtual library, where you can search through multiple online databases and find such articles, as well as reported court decisions on Lexis Academic.

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