While the research paper for an ethics course will be similar to what you'd write in other types of classes, the ethics paper will typically be more of an argumentative type paper; that is, more often than not you'll be presenting your point and making a case for it, using the appropriate sources to back up your position.
When it comes to choosing a topic, you'll have a much easier time if you select one that you have a strong opinion about. And it wouldn't hurt to have at least a working knowledge of some of the issues involved with it. Then you'll have an easier time narrowing it sufficiently into a workable project. With ethics, it's easy to think in broad terms, but difficult to do a thorough job covering such a topic. For example, you might begin with an idea like "public displays of affection" and then narrow it to something more specific, such as "public displays of affection with a coworker at a work-related function damage professional relationships because..." Of course, such a topic would probably be a better topic for an essay rather than a research paper.
Research paper topics should involve greater complexity, and they should show that through the course of your work you are developing your point based upon the already existing theories and how your own ideas relate to them. Below you will find some general ideas for research paper topics for a course in ethics. Pick on that you feel strongly about, narrow it sufficiently, and be sure to check with your instructor for approval and tips on how to approach it.
Are there ethical ways to ensure that the people you hire have the best interests of the company in mind? Also, how might hiring practices like nepotism annoy people who have no family ties to the company? Do these people have valid claims? People who work for a relative may be more motivated to do a better job for a relative than those who are not blood related. Likewise, internal postings ensure that only the "right kind" of people are hired. On the other hand, is this ethical? Is it discrimination? Might such practices promote only a certain level of employee, while ignoring those who are truly more qualified for a particular job? You may also consider other forms of selective hiring: for example, how is it ethical (or not ethical) for a babysitting service to hire mostly female sitters? In what ways does screening present ethical problems for companies looking to hire new employees?
If you argue that the consequences are more important than the way by which you attain them, you are saying essentially that ethics take a back seat to our rights. For example, if you were to argue that medical marijuana has benefits to its users that outweigh the fact that marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, you are saying that the ends justify the means. On the other hand, you could make the argument that since it has been deemed illegal by society, we have an ethical obligation to uphold that law, no matter the consequences. Be sure to approach this topic as you would a debate, taking into consideration how the opposition would react and trying to come up with a rebuttal.
Some people select a career path based entirely on economic considerations. However, there are other things to consider, such as how meaningful the work is, or how much power it bestows. Perhaps the satisfaction of doing a job that helps others outweighs the financial disadvantages of it. On the other hand, is it possible that by picking selecting a career with a great deal of financial reward, an individual could donate more money to a cause and therefore make a greater impact of good? Consider such careers as law enforcement or the military. Although such careers can often afford people certain power, how could they abuse that power? And might other career choices, for example, a politician or media representative, hold similar temptations. Consider the core values that go into making a career choice based on ethics.
After gaining valuable job skills, ideas, clients, etc., many employees (for whatever reason) seek employment outside of their current company. They might even call in sick in order to go on an interview, use company equipment to copy their resume, and generally cost the company time and money. What kinds of ethical problems go along with looking for a new job, and how can employers and employees avoid them? Discuss the ethical obligations that an employee has towards his employers, and also what an employee can do if the employer is unable to meet the goals of its employees. That is, what ethical responsibilities does the employer have to in terms of providing advancement and other perks?
One could make the argument that the right of free speech gives marketers the freedom to "stretch" the truthfulness of their claims. After all, no one is forcing the consumer to buy a particular product or service, and it is the consumer's responsibility to do a little research to make an informed decision. Also, it is an advertiser's duty to his or her employer to sell that product. On the other hand, does an advertiser have an ethical duty to the consumer in the way they market? Does deceitful advertising objectify the consumer, and does the relationship between consumers and producers mean that the consumer should be satisfied that the product or service lives up to the claims the marketers make? Discuss some of the practices, such as hiding facts, making false or ambiguous claims, and exaggerating truth, and argue that they do or do not count as deceitful advertising.