FORMAT: 250-300 words; double-spaced (though normally a submission would be single-spaced); Times New Roman, 12pt; MSWord


GRADING: 5% of grade; 1 point extra for each day early, up to 10 points; 5 points off for each day late


Description of the Project:

An abstract is a short, concise summary that gives an overview of the contents of a longer piece of writing, such as a paper, article, or book. Its purpose is to inform the reader of the contents of the underlying work in a way that reflects the structure and is representative of the content of the work in order to help the reader (a) decide if they want to read the underlying document or not and (b) if they do decide to read it, to help the reader absorb the information in the work by providing them with a roadmap beforehand.

Abstracts are commonly used in a variety of academic and professional settings—for example, in introducing a thesis or dissertation, in submitting an article to an academic publication, in applying for research grants, in writing a book proposal, or in summarizing books and articles so that readers in an industry or field can keep up with the constant outpouring of new works.

The exact format of an abstract may vary depending on a variety of factors. Consider first the field: an abstract of a scientific article often consists of the Methodology, the Results of the research, and then a Discussion section. Consider also the purpose of the writing: an essay arguing for a four-day work week as opposed to an informative article on the latest textile technologies in Italy will be cast into a form different from that of the abstract of the scientific article. Finally, the style may also vary according to whether the abstractor is summarizing her own work or someone else’s work, not least in its use of first-person pronouns.

For this abstract project, you will be summarizing a particular code of business (or professional) ethics that you did not compose. I’ve provided a number of samples of such codes for you under “Files” in Canvas. Select whichever one you like. If you’d like to pick another one that is not in the folder, send me a request letting me know why you want to choose that one.

A reasonable structure in this case would be to first define what a code of ethics is, and why it is important for a company to have one. Then it would make sense to name the company whose code you are examining and provide a little relevant information about them to give context.

From there, you might move on to list some of the core elements of the code of ethics, then tell why certain items might are particularly important, given the business in question. For example, while safety is always important, it’s probably an especially pressing issue for a construction or trucking company; while cyber-security is increasingly important for everyone, it’s probably particularly important for a bank or a nuclear facility; while communication with clients is important, it’s uniquely important for doctors with their patients. You might also note some unusual elements or area of focus, such as their commitment to the environment, their religious commitment, or their commitment to proactively make available the results of their annual audits.

Finally, end with an assessment.

Did you think the list of items covered was sufficiently robust or did it leave key elements out? (Before concluding this make sure that you have actually looked at the entire code and that part of it is not hiding in a link somewhere in the text.)

Did it show evidence of common-sense internal compliance mechanisms for the enforcement of its code? For example, if it claims to be concerned about data privacy, is there a requirement that employees contact the legal department before sending personal information out of the country? If they say they are committed to avoiding corrupt practices like bribery, is there an ethics hotline to call to report such bribery? (If you were internal to the organization, you could ask how these things are monitored and what the penalty is for employees who violate these and other standards, but most companies are not going to make that kind of information public.)

Was it full of vague and general bloviations and disingenuous virtue-signaling or did it report the results of internal and external compliance reviews that show how well it is actually living up to its purported standards?

For example, if the company said that it is committed to security, safety, and treating employees well, did it show the results of internal reviews regarding the number of data breaches, accidents, or unsuccessful brain surgeries, or the treatment of foreign workers?

Did it note its membership in and rating by third-party watchdog organizations that can vouch for their ethical performance (e.g., the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, the Evangelical Counsel for Financial Accountability, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), or the Virginia Bar Association)? Did it make its last audit publicly available, or available upon request?

See the sites below for helpful pointers and examples: to an external site. to an external site. to an external site.


Things to avoid:

  1. Don’t make a majority of your abstract long lists of items of section headings from the code (“they deal with insider trading, outsider trading, upsider trading, downsider trading,” etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc. If you are going to list specific items, then try to group them under general categories and tell what the elements show: “They show their commitment to cyber-security by a, b, and c, and their commitment to fairness by x, y, and z.”


  1. Don’t make your abstract a patched-together collection of quotes from the code.
  1. Be specific, not general. “They seem ethical in how they treat their employees” “They pledge to treat their employees fairly by prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and violence within a context that rewards ability and merit.”
  1. Do not use AI to do your work for you. I will check.


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