By Scott Hibbard, October 2015
Twenty months go by really fast in Utica College's Financial Crime and Compliance Management (MS FCM) program. The professional project classes are the last two classes in the program. In the first project class you will submit your topic and research proposal for instructor approval, write the first two sections of an APA research paper, and submit your graduation agreement. In the second project class you will write the last two sections of an APA research paper and you will submit your final phase project form with Utica College to conclude the MS FCM program prior to graduation. Although you are not permitted to write a professional project or capstone research paper ahead of time there are things you can do to simplify and organize yourself before enrolling in the capstone classes.
Explore possible topic ideas early
The classes in the program are opportunities to identify possible capstone topics. Document those ideas in a Microsoft Word file. Research and read on those topics to determine your interest level and what academic literature says about those topics Use your interest and readings to zero in on the topic that interests you the most. You will also likely acquire some academic sources that you will want to document for future use in your professional project. Something else you can do is to consult the Utica College library online or the Economic Crime and Cybersecurity Institute's (ECCI) sampling of capstone papers. Your academic advisor can also share the instructions to access the library's capstone collections. You may find a topic that interests you or you may consider a different approach to a topic that has been previously written on.
Begin considering who your secondary reader will be and have alternates in mind
Your instructor for your professional project classes will be the primary reader of your project. You will have to recruit a secondary reader for your project committee. Your secondary reader may be internal to Utica College or external to Utica College. An internal reader is another Utica College staff member. An external reader may be a professional whose CV or resume indicates significant expertise in your professional project topic. You will have to furnish a CV or resume to Utica College for an external secondary reader and selection of that secondary reader is contingent on instructor approval. Also, understand that secondary readers are human. Have an alternate secondary reader identified in case your initial secondary reader has to withdraw from your committee.
Read about APA research papers
Take some time to read about style and tone in APA research papers. Purdue OWL APA website (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/664/01/) is a good online resource. The APA Manual 6th Edition is a textbook for the capstone classes and perhaps the ultimate resource. Also, learn to discern between high-quality and lower-quality academic sources. You can find many good academic sources by Google but use the other classes in the program to become familiar with the academic databases available online through Utica College library.
When plans don't survive contact with reality
When you start your professional project you are not expected to have all the answers. You may have to adjust your topic to sharpen the focus of your research paper. You may have to find an alternate secondary reader. Perhaps life issues occur. Whatever the case remember that your professor is your best resource when issues appear.
Best of luck in your future studies!
About the Author
Scott Hibbard is a second-year Utica College ECM Grad Student (ABT). He is scheduled to submit his ECM thesis by December 2015.