“The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision.” Nuremberg Code (Links to an external site.), provision #1




Topic, Thesis,  Abstract & Title

TOPIC:  Research and analyze a specific experiment or another example of dubious scientific ethics carried out by multiple collaborators after World War II. These may include physical and psychological studies or collusion by healthcare industries. A list of previous topics will be posted in announcements leading up to discussion #7 paper proposal. Students may NOT write about the CIA’s MK Ultra Project as their main topic as that is the subject of the Module 2 sample student essay.

THESIS: The essay should address whether the Nuremberg Code or another ethical standard applies to the topic, and if so, how. Additionally, consider the answer to at least one research question that will help readers learn more about the subject and its relevance today, something like: “could this happen again?” or “how is this relevant today?” or “what was accomplished, if anything, by the research or policies enacted?”

ABSTRACT of about 300 words, which counts towards the essay’s 2000-word minimum, must appear on page one. Consult the UNC Writing Center handout and follow the directions for crafting an “informative” abstract (Links to an external site.).

TITLE should be clearly tied to the topic. Try a two-part title: a mix of abstract and concrete divided by a colon.

Research Requirements

At least six valid sources (including one graphic) are required in total. Begin your research at the Cabrillo Library’sonline databases of articles and E-books (Links to an external site.). Start in General/All Subjects with “Academic Search Complete” and then try a scientific perspective using the Health, Medicine, and Science databases. 

  1. Only one print book is permitted. Print books tend to be more out-of-date and e-Books more current.
  2. General knowledge sources are not permitted (no Wikipedia, Ask.com, Infoplease, Questia, Bartleby, etc.). These sites can familiarize you with the topic, but don’t cite from them: look to their listed sources for more detailed info.
  3. Entertainment (and infotainment) sources are not permitted. This includes History.com and other popular TV channels and websites. These can be helpful for getting a sense of your topic but should not be used for the paper, as they offer narrow, sensationalized, and often race- and gender-biased versions of the past. If you question a source’s integrity, email Diane and ask before citing.
  4. Documentaries can be excellent or sketchy, depending on the agenda and expertise of its creators–scrutinize and verify any facts shared from one.
  5. Graphic source may be a chart, table, graph, picture or photograph and must:
    • be described in the body of the paper immediately above or below,
    • be informative, not merely aesthetic or shocking for its own sake,
    • be embedded in the body of the paper and take up no more than 1/2 page, including label,
    • be labeled (“Figure 1,” “Figure 2,”) with a brief description and author (or title of source if no author). Full citation information for the source should be provided on the Works Cited page.

Treat the process of researching and drafting as cyclical, not linear. Continue to develop your list of research questions as you discover new sources and write about them:

  • what else can be gleaned about all the stakeholders (people involved)?
  • to what degree were subjects or patients informed and willing?
  • what was the stated purpose for going forward with the experiment or “treatment”?
  • what, if anything, was gained by unethical researchers? was it worth the human cost?
  • what can be learned and applied today from what happened then?

Introductory paragraph should engage the reader, introduce your topic, and state your thesis. 

  • Use the opening sentences of the essay to get the reader’s attention with a relevant quote, question, description, or other strategy to focus attention on the topic as you see it (1-3 sentences).
  • Next, set the scene, briefly describing what happened, when, where, and who was involved.
  • Finish with a clear thesis about how this event or study violates the Nuremberg Code (or doesn’t or it’s unclear) and the implications for something similar happening today. The more nuanced your thesis, the more you’ll have to say later on–concluding simply that “this was wrong and now it’s over” leaves little else to add.

The body of the essay present the details of events–the setting, the players, the fallout–alongside your overall thesis statement.

  • Examine the larger context, common practices, and explanations given by those in charge at the time.
  • Never end a paragraph with a quote or other citation; always bring it back to your reason for sharing it (your thesis).
  • Throughout the paper,
         DO NOT describe your research process or refer to yourself directly (no “I,” “me,” “we” statements), and 
         DO NOT speak directly to the reader (no “you,” “your/you’re” statements).

Conclude the essay with a final look back at the main events, their impact on participants and other stakeholders, and their broader social implications, then and now.


Format & Citation Checklist

  • 12-point, professional font, like Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, etc.
  • 1-inch margins on all four sides (warning: Microsoft Word defaults to 1.25” on the sides)
  • Lines are double-spaced, using one tab at the start of a new paragraph.
  • No extra line spacing goes between paragraphs, below titles and subtitles, or in-between items on the Works Cited page.
  • Top right header includes the student author’s last name, a space, and the page number on every page.
  • On page 1, in the upper left-hand corner of the first page before the title and abstract, list your name, your instructor’s name, the course, and the date.
  • Attribute every quote and information from a source to its author as in-text citations.
  • Include a Works Cited page at the end, listing all sources that are cited in the paper, alphabetically.

See the Cabrillo Library for details on how to cite your sources, both in the body of the paper and at the end, in Works Cited (Links to an external site.). Submitted essays are scored by TurnItIn, software that scans for copied language from online and assigns a “Plagiarism Score.” Pre-submit your essay early if you want to check your score and fix any citations or quotes before submitting the final version. The last submission will be the one graded.