Assignment 2: Research Essay
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Due Jun 7 by 12:00 Points 30 Submitting a file upload
Research essay Instructions
Due Tuesday 7 June at midday (12pm). The essay is worth 30% of the marks for this unit.
**READ CAREFULLY. We recommend you read the below information several times to make sure you fully understand
the assessment requirements**
The aim of this research essay is to improve understanding of key ideas and concepts learnt in this unit. By doing so, this
research essay aims to improve your critical thinking, communication skills, referencing skills, and ability to conduct independent
This assessment asks you to apply critical ethical thinking to convince your readers of a particular case or viewpoint. There are
two essay topic options. Choose only one.
Research essay option 1: Learning App
A secondary school (South High) is purchasing an innovative AI learning assistant app for final year students to download free
to their devices. Some reports suggest that the app, made by a company called Quark, may improve student grades. Being in a
very disadvantaged area, many students at South High do not get into university. South High wants to help more of its final year
students achieve good marks to get into the university course of their choice. Presently, there is a high student to teacher ratio.
Teachers are being stretched and have low morale. South High wants to better compete with schools in wealthier suburbs who
can afford the best resources, teachers, and mentors. The app has access to the individual students assessments and study
There are two versions of the app available for the school to buy.
App A: The basic version. App A has an easy-to-read dashboard and is designed to:
Keep track of the students assessments and grades
Monitor student activity on their devices, including studying
Organise study notes
Alert students to key deadlines
Help plan study and revision
Give general advice for chosen subjects
Offer motivational support
Give feedback on improving essays and other assessments
The tailored feedback App A gives to each student is to identify areas of learning in which the student is doing poorly (even
without teacher feedback). To do this, IT uses an interpretable Machine learning system that is trained on data from thousands of
students and teachers.
App B: The premium version. App B does all that the basic version (App A) does, plus more. It identifies not only areas in which
the student is doing poorly, but it also predicts whether the student is likely to pick up extra marks or not with further study in
those areas. Furthermore, it is trained to predict areas in which the student is likely to do especially well with, and without, extra
study. These additional features are derived from a deep learning system with thousands of parameters. Reports from other
schools who have used these AI tools suggest that App B has improved student grades on standardised tests by nearly 6%
compared to App A.
Quark stores encrypted and anonymized student data from App A and claims it does not share that data with other companies.
Because the premium App B costs more money to make, Quark reserves the right to use anonymized student data from App B
to improve its AI functions. It may also sell anonymised data to interested buyers.
South Highs Board has asked you the schools Information Officer with a degree in AI Ethics to write an ethical evaluation of
the two products. The Board demands the report provide a clear recommendation. It insists your evaluation must provide a
strong ethical argument that dr aws on ethical theory and ethical concepts from AI Ethics.
Your task: Write a 1500-word report for the Board of South High recommending to either buy the basic version (App A) or the
premium version (App B). You should use evidence and argument to back up your recommendation, as per the Boards wishes.
Note that you must recommend App A or App B you cannot recommend that the board buy neither or both. The Board has
committed to purchasing one of these irrespective of your report outcomes.
Research essay option 2: Juvenile offenders
Melbournes juvenile justice system is in crisis. Teenage children, arrested on suspicion of committing violent crimes, are being
remanded in juvenile detention cells awaiting trial. Normally, they would be rapidly assessed by a judge and either detained or
released on bail depending on whether they are low risk or high risk of re-offending. Now, however, a severe backlog of cases
and shortage of judges means that all the suspects are in detention for an indefinite period.
The Childrens Court has therefore decided to use AI to process these bail decisions. There are two systems available, with
System A: Owned by a commercial company that is a subsidiary of a social media platform. Research studies seem to show
the system to have a false positive rate (incorrectly rates low risk suspects as high risk) of 10% for boys and 20% for girls. Uses
a proprietary, interpretable machine learning model that can learn from its mistakes. Pledges to keep data encrypted and off-
limits to parent company.
System B: Developed by a government agency. Uses a deep neural network with many parameters. False positive rate
suspected to be 30% for girls and 30% for boys. Legally entitled to share data with social security agency. Has no links to
The Childrens Court has asked you an independent advisor with a degree in AI Ethics to write an ethical evaluation of the
two systems. The Court demands the report provide a clear recommendation for using either System A or System B. It insists
your evaluation must provide a strong ethical argument that draws on ethical theory and ethical concepts from AI Ethics.
Your task: Write a 1500-word report for the Childrens Court recommending which system they should buy. You should use
evidence and argument to back up your recommendation, as per the Courts wishes.
Note that you must recommend System A or System B you cannot recommend that the Childrens court buys neither or both.
The Childrens Court has committed to purchasing one of these irrespective of your report outcomes.
Select only one of the case studies above.
Your task is to write a 1500-word research essay to defend one technical-ethical perspective (listed in the case study).
We will allow 10% leeway above 1500-word limit without penalty. However, anything >10% over the maximum will incur a
penalty in proportion to its magnitude. Being succinct and sticking to word limits is part of the skill of writing.
There is no penalty for any number of words under 1500. (However, very short essays may fail to do well.)
Your essay should draw on selected and key ideas, theory, principles, and concepts from The Ethics of AI:
COMP90087. In addition, you are expected to research widely and find your own academic sources, including but not
limited to peer-reviewed journal articles, conference papers, and textbooks.
(Note: Wikipedia is NOT a good source for a research essay!)
Helpful Guidance: please read this section carefully!
A good research essay will draw on argument skills you began to develop in the first essay. This includes adopting a clear point
of view, writing persuasively and lucidly, and building up a strong critical argument. Think about what you learnt about writing
and thinking well and convincingly throughout the subjectin lectures, in tutorials, in Modules, and in the special sessions we
had on essay writing.
So what is the difference between a ‘research essay’ and a critical argument (e.g. the first assignment of this subject)? The
‘research’ part of the assignment says it all — making it clear that arguments about the technology need to be backed up by
ideas and evidence available in the literature.
You’ve had experience writing arguments in the prior Assignment; now we extend your academic writing skills to backing up
points of view in a more sustained way, and choosing for yourself which way you will argue and which ethical ideas (e.g. theory,
principles, concepts) you will use. It does not matter whether the ‘point of view’ you choose is your own personal opinion or not.
Rather, what matters is how well you defend that point of view. This requires considering the strengths and weaknesses of that
point of view.
To write a good research essay, you need to draw upon references to other academic and scholarly works, and present these in
the right manner. To start with, please read the following three guides from our University’s resources for students.
1. This article, "Writing successful essays: Expectations of essays at university level"
(https://services.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/471297/Writing_Successful_Essays_Update_051112.pdf) ) provides
a quick overview of the expectations of the essay, including how to structure the whole thing.
2. A more detailed guide is "Essay Basics" at
3. One of the major differences between this research essay and some prior essays you might have written is the need to back
up your arguments with multiple academic sources, and reference them appropriately to maintain Academic Integrity. This
resource "Using sources in assessments: voice in academic writing", is a good one
Upload your submission to the Assessment 2: Research Essay submission on Canvas.
Submissions must be in the form of .doc, .docx, or .pdf files, and must conform to the following requirements:
12 point font
Arial font only for Word documents
1.5 line spacing
Use Harvard citation style for references (ten or more)
Clearly defined paragraphs
Figures and images can be used, but each figure counts for 200 words, so use them sparingly (if at all) and use them well!
Please put a word count in the essay (word count does not include references)
For LaTeX users, use the template accessible at https://www.overleaf.com/read/fnjvsyxgqnvv
Late submission policy
Submissions that are late will be penalised 10% per day (so 3 marks per day) up to 7 days. After 7 days, the essay will not be
marked and a score of zero will be recorded.
If you require an extension due to personal or medical reasons, please contact the staff before the due date requesting the
It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the correct document is successfully submitted prior to the due time. Failure to
upload the correct document on time, even if it is a mistake, will result in the essay receiving late penalties (and not being
marked after 7 days).
Criteria [total 30 marks]
Please go to the Rubric for more detail on the criteria.
Support & development of ideas [10 marks]
The ideas in the research essay are well developed and the argument(s) are well supported. The positions taken in the report
Make sure that the statements and arguments you make are supported; that is, backed up by facts, data, reasons, or beliefs
that are convincing and plausible to your audience. Your aim is to convince your reader that you have a strong case, which is
adequately supported by other sources of academic literature. An argument is weak if it is not supported by facts and reasons.
Think about you feedback on the first essay and the information, discussions, and sessions we had on good ethics writing.
A decent essay of this length will have ten or more references.
Mastery of subject content [10 marks]
The essay demonstrates an understanding of the subject content and the ability to use this understanding to critically analyse a
problem and support the argument.
To construct an argument, it is important that you take the time to re-visit the relevant modules and related material in the
subject with the assignment in mind. Take notes and highlight important points.
Organisation [4 marks]
The essay is well organised and follows a clear structure. The reader can readily understand the essay plan.
Structure your essay so that each paragraph presents one key argument. The first sentence of each paragraph should clearly
signal the topic of the paragraph. If a paragraph is an argument of a point, begin the paragraph with the claim you want to make,
and then use the rest of the paragraph to support that claim (see more below)
Aim to keep each paragraph reasonably short: somewhere between three and five sentences. Aim to keep sentences of a
sufficient length: between 15-40 words is a rough guide. A sentence is too long if a reader gets to the end of the sentence and
cannot remember the start of the sentence. Read your report out loud and if you need to take a breath during a sentence, it may
be too long. Get someone else to read your essay and see if they understand it all! You could ask someone (if available) who
doesn’t know much about the subject to test for the clarity of the essay before you submit.
Clarity [4 marks]
The essay is clear and lucid to the reader. The reader can easily follow the argument.
A reader is always reading your writing from a different perspective from you, with a different background and a different level of
COMP90087 Assignment 2: Research Essay
Criteria Ratings Pts
understanding of what the essay says. If some parts of your essay are a bit unclear to you, then they will definitely be unclear to
the reader. If they are clear to you, this does not mean they will be clear to the reader. It is important that when you re-read your
essay to yourself, you think about reading it as if the content is entirely new to you, and highlight and passages that you think
could not be clear.
Note that there is a strong relationship between the clarity, organisation, and the support & development of ideas criteria, and
demonstrating mastery of the subject content. A clear, well structured argument that is well supported and well developed will
make it easier for a reader to understand the ideas, and make it easier to verify that you have developed mastery of the subject
Presentation & grammar [2 marks]
The paper presentation is clean: spelling, grammar, complete sentences, formatted correctly, proper use of academic citation ,
While a reader may still understand your essay, sloppy spelling & grammar and an inconsistent format give off an impression
that the writer did not pay attention to detail, and can form a negative impression before a reader has even read a single
sentence. Also, it is important to note that CORRECT citation practices are required to display academic integrity.
The University of Melbourne academic integrity policy (https://academichonesty.unimelb.edu.au/policy.html) applies.
Students are encouraged to discuss the assignment topics, but all submitted work must represent the individuals
OWN understanding of the topic. The subject staff take academic misconduct and poor citation practices seriously.
Plagiarising material from other students or from any other source may result in receiving 0 marks for this assessment
or a fail for the subject.
PLEASE NOTE THAT STAFF AND THE UNIVERSITY ARE AWARE OF WEBSITES AND SOCIAL MEDIA PURPORTING TO
ASSIST STUDENTS COMMIT ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT: DISCIPLINARY ACTION FROM THE UNIVERSITY MAY BE
Please also check Turnitin matches and correct them before re-submitting. Give yourself plenty of time to ensure the essay
does not look like it involves plagiarism before you submit. Even if you don’t mean to commit plagiarism, you still need to use
correct and honest academic practices.
By submitting work for assessment I hereby declare that I understand the Universitys policy on academic integrity
(https://academicintegrity.unimelb.edu.au/) and that the work submitted is original and solely my work, and that I have not been
assisted by any other person (collusion) apart from where the submitted work is for a designated collaborative task, in which
case the individual contributions are indicated. I also declare that I have not used any sources without proper acknowledgment
(plagiarism). Where the submitted work is a computer program or code, I further declare that any copied code is declared in
comments identifying the source at the start of the program or in a header file, that comments inline identify the start and end of
the copied code, and that any modifications to code sources elsewhere are commented upon as to the nature of the
Support and development of ideas
10 pts Outstanding
8 pts Proficient
6 pts Developing
4 pts Incomplete
2 pts Insufficient
0 pts No Marks
The ideas in the report are well developed and the argumentations are well supported. Ten or more academic quality and relevant references are used. The positions taken in the report are clear.
Make sure that the statements and arguments you make are supported; that is, backed up by facts, data, reasons, or beliefs that are likely to be held by your audience. An argument is weak if it is not supported by facts and reasons.
The ideas are extremely well developed and arguments very well supported with excellent references. The positions taken in the report are very clear.
The ideas are developed and arguments supported. The positions taken in the report are clear, and references are good. However, some improvements may still be possible.
The ideas, references, and argument are good, but require some further development; or the position taken is unclear
The ideas or arguments in the report are incomplete; references are barely adequate; and the stance taken is unclear
The ideas need further development and the arguments are not well supported; references are not very relevant or of good quality; the positions taken are not clear.
The report does not include sufficient ideas, references, or support and is not clear.
Mastery of Subject Content
The essay demonstrates an understanding of the subject content and the ability to use this understanding to critically analyse a problem and support their argument.
10 pts Outstanding The essay demonstrates a very strong understanding of the subject content and the critical analysis is excellent.
8 pts Proficient The essay demonstrates a good understanding of the subject content and the critical analysis supports the argument well, but some improvements are possible.
6 pts Developing The essay demonstrates sufficient understanding of the main concepts and these are used well, but some concepts are misunderstood or applied incorrectly.
4 pts Incomplete The essay demonstrates a superficial understanding of the subject content and its application, or the critical analysis is lacking detail and substance.
2 pts Insufficent The essay demonstrates a lack of understaning of the subject content and the critical analysis is insufficient.
0 pts No marks The essay demonstates minimal understanding and there is no critical analysis
The essay is well organised and follows a clear logical structure. The reader can readily understand the essay plan.
4 pts Excellent The essay is well organised and follows a clear logical structure.
3 pts Good The structure of the essay or the organisation needs some improvement, but overall, the essay is good.
2 pts Sufficient The structure is unclear or the essay organisation needs improvement.
1 pts Insufficient The essay organisation can be improved significantly and the structure is unclear or lacks logic.
0 pts No Marks
The essay is clear and lucid to the reader. The reader can easily follow the argument.
4 pts Excellent The essay is clear at all points. It is a pleasure to read, and
3 pts Good The essay is clear for the most part, but some
2 pts Sufficient The essay can be understood, but the expression of ideas
1 pts Insufficient Parts of the essay are not easily
0 pts No Marks The essay is not clear and most ideas
Total Points: 30
even shows some flair.
improvements can be made.
is difficult to follow. understandable are not readily understood
Presentation and grammar
The paper presentation is clean: spelling, grammar, complete sentences, formatted correctly, citations accurate, etc.
2 pts Excellent The presentation is excellent: very few spelling mistakes or grammar errors. Formatting is excellent. Academic citation practices are followed well.
1 pts Good The presentation is good, but there are mistakes (including but not limited to academic citation practices) that would be easy to spot with a careful proofread.
0 pts No Marks The presentation needs improvement: several problems that demonstrate lack of care in writing.
David Chen 19/5/2212:
Madeleine Antonellos 1
9/5/2212:01 pm INSTRUCTOR
must tell them QUESTIONS?
Start to get a bit worried if ref is 20 years old
But if its like -- Aristotle
Or John Stuart Mill