Introductory Geology II
Each student must choose an environmental/geological issue and
write a paper between 10 and 15 pages (including figures, tables, and
references). See format below.
o The paper may not be the same as the issue debated by the student.
o The paper should be typed double-spaced and stapled together.
o The paper is due on the scheduled week of the semester (as scheduled
in the syllabus).
o Choose any topic related to an environmental problem created by or related
See examples on the course's Web
Presentation of Research Paper:
This is optional and adds up to 3% to your overall grade. Past experience
shows that students who present their research paper usually add a letter
grade! (see Syllabus for grades).
Students interested in presenting their research topic to the class must
let me know ahead of time.
The talk should be planned for a 10-15 minutes period and use Microsoft
The talks will be graded based on the quality of the introduction given
to the problem, clarity, ability to transfer the ideas, choice of audio-visual
means (Powerpoint slides or transparencies are encouraged), level of the
understanding of the idea and problem by the presenter, and number of
articles studied. The main point of the presentation is to learn the subject and to teach
it to other students.
for the Research paper
The paper should consist of four basic sections as follows:
A summary should not exceed 400-500 words. Despite its short length, it
is an important part of the paper. Based on the contents of the summary,
readers often decide whether to continue reading the article.
A good summary includes concise, to-the-point statements regarding the
purpose, results (a statement about the methods of analyses may also be
given here) and conclusions of the article in well-structured paragraphs.
Short and simple are the key points when writing a summary for your article.
About 1-2 pages long. As the name implies, it introduces the subject to
the reader. It should give:
1. A short historic background (e.g. when, and by whom the matter
was raised first; connection to people lives; chronology of events if
2. Outstanding questions remaining to be answered.
3. What the paper is set to do (objective).
An introduction usually contains citations from other works on the subject
such that the readers are informed as to where they can locate key sources
about the subject under discussion. The introduction section should also
be the most non-technical part of the paper so that readers can decide
whether the reading benefits them. As a courtesy to readers, you may add
a paragraph at the end, describing how you plan to proceed with your analyses.
This will be the bulk of your paper, typically 4-7 pages long, including
text, data tables, maps, photos and graphs. The analyses and discussion
must be your take from what you have read and researched, and come in
your own words. The best approach is to break it down into a number of
subheadings so that a reader does not get lost. You may number the subheadings
in order of their importance, or just have subheadings. For example if
you are discussing future of coal in the Midwest, the matter might be
discussed under such headings as: 1. The state policies and economic aspects;
2. Environmental concerns; 3. Reserves and exploration activities. This
approach allows the readers to skip unwanted sections as well as letting
them see the order and structure of your paper. It also makes it easy
for you to keep track of the development of the subject as you write.
It is advisable that you design the paper with all its subsections in
mind before you write, but this may not always be possible. If you include
diagrams, maps, charts, photos or graphs, they must be labeled and have
captions, complete with a figure number assigned at the beginning of the
caption, like: Fig. 2. Graph showing decrease in coal prices over the
1972-1995 period (Smith, 1989); Table 3. Coal as a percentage of energy
budget in Kentucky (White 1996).
No more than a page, usually one or two paragraphs. Put all the salient
points of the paper here. However, you need to present these points in
some order of importance commensurate with the way you posed the issues
in the analyses/discussion part. Without the conclusion section, a paper
sounds like a story or a newspaper article. Do not conclude something
that is not supported by what you presented in the discussion. For example,
in the future of coal in the Midwest paper, conclusions may be:
1. Coal mining has made significant contribution to the region's economy
by raising the standard of living.
2. Coal mining also created some unique regional environmental problems
that need to be
considered as soon as possible.
You may have cited a number of scientific articles, books, newspapers
or other sources in your paper. Now you need to tell the reader about
them in sufficient detail such that if needed, they can locate the sources.
There are several standard formats for giving references. You would adopt
the following format.
Books: In the text:
Smith (1989) has suggested that..., or ...It was inferred that the natives
were capable of defending
themselves (Smith, 1989).
In the reference list:
Smith J. D. "A History of Kentucky", 2nd Edition 1989, Goodwill
Publishers Inc. Lexington KY.
Articles, Newspaper Articles:
In the text: Poet & Albridge (1992) contended that Illinois basin
was... or: Several communities along the river complied (Poet & Albridge,
In the reference list: Poet James K & Albridge C. D. (1992), The great
mining towns of Illinois, Journal of Exploration, Vol. 132, # 12, 435-455.
Web sites: In the text: ...In this respect the data published by the USDA
is conclusive (W5).
In the reference list: W5: US Department of Energy. http://www.usde.gov/epon.usde/html
for Grading the Research Papers
Your research paper must be a balanced discussion of different aspects
of the environmental issue. The paper is graded based on the following
% of grade
Paper follows the format provided above. 20
Paper is divided into sections that make the arguments and interpretations
easy and clear. 20
Paper has enough evidence, explanation, previous work, to justify its
analyses and conclusions. 30
Paper uses properly captioned graphs, models, maps, tables, etc., with
relevant references. 10
Paper is reasonably free of spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors.
Paper has an alphabetical list of proper references, that are appropriately
referred to in the text. 10