ENST 112 Environmental Science
Guidelines for Writing a Scientific Research Paper
The purpose of the scientific research paper is to give you an opportunity to display your critical and insightful thinking about the underlying concepts, experimental approaches, and remediation efforts of the environmental science issues confronting the world today. This must be an informational paper where you research your topic of choice, then discuss the various environmental issues surrounding that topic.
You are strongly encouraged to look carefully at the grading rubric given at the end of this guideline, since it indicates what I will be looking for in your report. You will first submit a rough draft (15 pts) which should be a completed paper, only needing review and editing. Then, you will submit the final draft (70 pts) incorporating the comments and suggestions noted on the rough. Due dates for all stages of this paper can be found in the syllabus and the supplied “Research Paper Schedule of Submission”.
Basic formatting requirements:
- All papers must be typed and double-spaced using the 12-point Times New Roman font.
- All text pages must have margins of 1 inch on all sides.
- Paper is to be at least 5 full pages and no more than 8 full pages in length (not including the Literature Cited section).
- Entire paper, including Literature Cited section, is submitted as one document.
- The first page will have your name, the class name (Environmental Science 112), and the date in the upper left hand corner; followed by the title (centered), and then the Introduction.
- Section headers should be used for all major sections and primary subsections.
- Papers must use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It is a good idea to use a spellchecker, but it is ultimately the author’s responsibility to ensure that all grammar, spelling, and punctuation are correct.
- You are required to use at least six (6) literature sources in the text of your paper, three (3) of which must be from peer-reviewed scholarly journals.
Paraphrase material from published articles, but make sure you rephrase ideas in your own words to avoid plagiarizing.
- Title. The title is an important element of your paper because it is the first part of your paper
that conveys content to the reader. The title should:
- be informative and short,
- be professional (“cute” titles generally are not a good idea).
- include your topic of discussion
Example title: Adaptation limitations to increased CO2 levels in montane habitat islands
- Introduction. In this section, describe in detail the “big picture” your paper addresses. This section should provide sufficient background information to allow a reader to understand what is known about the larger environmental issues, what the specific focus of your paper is, and how current scientific methods are being used to address the issues.
Your three main goals in the Introduction are:
- to establish the “big picture” economic and/or ecological context of your paper,
- to indicate how specific issues are affecting your topic,
- to indicate how specific scientific studies are used to determine the problems and solutions.
By starting the Introduction with a clear discussion about the “big picture” for your paper, you will give the widest possible range of readers a reason to be interested in your research. Therefore, you should use the first paragraph of your Introduction to make clear what the larger environmental issue or question is.
Next, within the context of that larger topic, briefly outline the specific points you intend to develop. You should have at least three related issues. Each issue should also have the backing of scientific research investigating that issue with possible remediation suggestions. The introduction is where you declare your thesis statement, your primary focus for this paper. This tells the reader your overall intent for this paper. The supporting points should all be aimed at supporting the thesis statement. This usually appears at the end of the introduction.
As this is an informational paper, not a personal narrative, avoid all instances of “I,” “me,” or “my” language. Also avoid “you” since there may be multiple readers. If you include “we” or “they” statements, be sure to indicate who you mean.
- Body. The body of the paper is where you will describe in detail the specific points you made in your Introduction.
Each specific point should begin with a section header.
Within this header you should develop the point: What is the issue? What is it doing to the environment? How is it affecting the human population? What does it do to the different biotic communities?
Then review the scientific efforts to understand the issue: What studies are being done? What underlying causes were found? What results have the studies produced?
Finally, discuss the remediation suggestions that arise from these studies: Are there process changes? Adaptations? Long-term solutions? Difficulties implementing these suggestions?
Each section should be comprised of multiple paragraphs, organizing the information in a logical manner. Details and clarity are key here!
- Conclusion. Refer back to your original thesis and supporting points. Do NOT just copy and paste them! Review your specific topics and the remediation efforts suggested. Explain the significance of what you found by relating your results back to the “big picture” that provided the motivation for the paper. Evaluate your specific issue topics in the context of the larger problem. Does your research have implications for similar issues faced elsewhere? Will there be problems in applying the remediation suggestions in other areas? Avoid introducing new ideas or issues in the conclusion that you have not already discussed in your paper.
Think of this paper like describing a journey. The title tells your reader what this journey is all about. The introduction prepares the reader for the trip by mapping out the path: the first part outlines where you start, the supporting points are the stops along the way, and the thesis statement is where you plan to end up. The body describes, in detail, the different waypoints, indicated by the use of section headers. The conclusion is where you take a look at your vacation photos: Did you find what you expected? Was there new information to be found? Did it end where you intended? What other trips could be taken to expand on the knowledge gained?
Paraphrase material from any literature source. Make sure you rephrase ideas in your own words to avoid plagiarizing.
A reminder about plagiarism. Plagiarism is a serious offence. It is considered intellectual theft. If you are unsure about what it means to plagiarize, ask me BEFORE turning in your written work. After you have handed in your research paper, it is TOO LATE because you have represented the content of the paper as your own work. Any instances of plagiarism will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct as outlined in your syllabus.
As a quick guideline:
- Work alone. This is an independently written project. This means that you cannot write up the same paper as a friend in the class. You may discuss the paper with them, but when it comes to writing the work up, go it alone.
- Paraphrase all outside sources. This means writing in your own words. Do NOT copy a sentence word-for-word from an article; you will need to re-write the idea in your own words. Sections of articles that are copied directly are completely obvious to anyone reading the paper, as a printed article, particularly a peer-reviewed article, generally goes through at least a dozen revisions before it is published. Unless you work that diligently on your paper, it will be quite easy to detect the difference in writing style of sentences stolen from an article and your own writing. Also, do not think that you can copy word-for-word from a website. I can Google as well as you can.
- Do not use quotes. In non-scientific writing, sections from the works of others are often included, and indicated by the use of quotes around these sections. Scientific writing in general does not use quotations, but does rely on good paraphrasing. This means that you should NOT quote any scientific article in your paper unless a term or phrase is completely unique to your topic and you plan to explore it further. Students sometimes use quotes as a way to avoid paraphrasing or to present an idea that they do not totally understand. If you do not fully understand an idea, then ask for help interpreting the information. Points will be deducted from any paper that uses quotes to represent material from a literature source.
- Give credit where it is due. Even after paraphrasing, you still need to cite where this information originated. Though the words may now be yours, the idea is not. The originating author(s) still need the credit.
Any instances of plagiarism will result in a grade of ZERO for the entire paper.
- Literature Cited. Since you are expected to use citations in your paper, you need to cite them appropriately throughout the text and in the Literature Cited section at the end of your paper. The proper format for citing references differs considerably for citations in the body of your paper and in the Literature Cited section. Use the citation examples below as the correct format for your own citations. NOTE: These are NOT in APA or MLA format!!! Most of the hard sciences do not use either, instead the citations are unique to the journal where the paper will be submitted. For this paper you are expected to follow these guidelines, formatting your citations and references EXACTLY as they are seen here. If you have a source whose origin is not referenced here, let me know and we will work out the correct format for that source.
Do not just attach your annotated literature cited section to the end of your paper!! A formal paper does not include summaries or comments in the literature cited section.
Citing References in the Body of Your Paper
Any information gathered from any source must be put into your own words in your paper. Be
very careful not to paraphrase too closely from your sources. It is virtually never necessary to quote your original source, since you can usually rephrase the information in your own words (you should do this even if your phrasing does not sound quite as good as the original). Most importantly, you must cite one or more references for any statement in your paper that is not
common knowledge. Even though you have paraphrased so that the words are yours, the idea is not! If you do not give credit where credit is due, you have committed plagiarism, which is an extremely serious intellectual offense, not to mention an academic no-no!
As a rule, it is best to indicate the source(s) of information at the end of the sentence. If several consecutive sentences contain information from the same source(s), cite them at the beginning, and then again at the end, so that all the information is “bracketed” between your citations. Here are examples of an acceptable way to cite sources in the body of your text:
Journal article with one author:
Turtle communities worldwide are able to contain ecologically similar species, in part because turtle species partition food resources and microhabitats (Luiselli, 2008).
An alternate form is: According to Luiselli (2008), turtle communities worldwide are able to contain ecologically similar species, in part because turtle species partition food resources and microhabitats.
Journal article with two authors:
Recent evidence indicates that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide generally results in increased plant growth (Bazzaz and Carlson, 1984). Do not use an ampersand (&) between the author names.
Journal article with more than two authors:
Recent evidence indicates that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide generally results in increased plant growth (Fajer et al., 1992). (Note: in the Literature Cited section, you do not use et al.; instead, you list all the authors by name.) The et al. is italicized because it is a foreign language term.
Recent evidence indicates that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide generally results in increased plant growth (Gates, 1993).
Chapter in a book:
Recent evidence indicates that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide generally results in increased plant growth (Bentley and Johnson, 1991).
Two citations for the same statement:
Recent evidence indicates that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide generally results in increased plant growth (Bentley and Johnson, 1991; Gates, 1993). Arrange the citations chronologically and separate them with a semicolon.
A reference you have seen cited in another reference, but have not read:
Recent evidence indicates that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide generally results in increased plant growth (Bazzaz, 1990 in Bentley and Johnson, 1991). *Note: this is acceptable only if it is not possible for you to obtain the original article.
A reference from a source with no author:
Recent evidence indicates that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide generally results in increased plant growth (Satellite observation, 2015). Use the first two significant (non-article) words of the title in place of the author name
Information from a web page
(Note: web pages should be used only for general information; use primary literature for investigating the scientific aspects of your paper; web pages are usually not peer-reviewed, so do not qualify as primary literature themselves):
Recent evidence indicates that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide generally results in increased plant growth (USGS, 2008).
*Give author(s) if they are listed on the page; otherwise, give the organization. Also, give the date the page was last revised.*
Information from a movie or video:
People are subject to NIMBY, or “not in my back yard” attitudes (Hamilton and Ritsko, 2011).
- Citing References in the Literature Cited Section of Your Paper
At the end of the paper, cite all references alphabetically (by first author) in a section entitled
Literature Cited, using the formats illustrated below. *Note: NEVER change the order of the authors listed in any literature source. This is disrespectful to the primary author who did most of the work getting the literature published. The references below all relate to the in-text citations mentioned above.
Bazzaz, F.A. 1990. The response of natural ecosystems to the rising global CO2 levels. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 21:167-196.
Bazzaz, F.A. and R.W. Carlson. 1984. The response of plants to elevated CO2. I. Competition among an assemblage of annuals at two levels of soil moisture. Oecologia 62:196-198.
Bentley, B.L. and N.D. Johnson. 1991. Plants as food for herbivores: the roles of nitrogen fixation and carbon dioxide enrichment. Pages 257-272 in Price, P.W., T.M. Lewinsohn, G.W. Fernandes, and W.W. Benson (eds.), Plant-Animal Interactions: Evolutionary Ecology in Tropical and Temperate Regions. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., NY.
Fajer, E.D., M.D. Bowers, and F.A. Bazzaz. 1992. The effect of nutrients and enriched CO2 environments on production of carbon-based allelochemicals in Plantago: a test of the carbon/nutrient balance hypothesis. American Naturalist 140:707-723.
Hamilton, D. (Writer) and A. Ritsko (Director). 2011. Power surge. In Hamilton, D. (Producer). NOVA. Television Series. WGBH-Boston. Public Broadcasting Corporation.
Gates, D.M. 1993. Climate Change and Its Biological Consequences. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA.
Luiselli, L. 2008. Resource partitioning in freshwater turtle communities: A null model meta-analysis of available data. Acta Oecologica 34:80-88.
Satellite observations show global plant growth is not keeping up with CO2 emissions. 2015. Science Daily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151207113841.htm. Accessed December 7, 2015.
USGS (United States Geological Survey). 2008. Contributions to the Climate Change Science
Program: Permafrost monitoring. http://geochange.er.usgs.gov/pub/poster/permafrostchart.html. Accessed March 15, 2010.
*Note: remove all hyperlinks from web pages*
The last page is the grading rubric used for the final draft. Use it a guide for understanding what is expected in this paper.
|FINAL DRAFT GRADING RUBRIC (70 pts)|
|General||10 pts total||Points earned|
|Font Style (Times New Roman-12)||0.5|
|Margins (I” all around)||0.5|
|Name/Class/Date on first page only||0.5|
|Writing Clear and Concise||2|
|Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation||1|
|Paper is well-organized and logically structured||2|
|In-text citations used and correctly formatted||2|
|All in-text citations are listed in the Lit. Cited||1|
|Title||2 pts total|
|Centered above text||0.5|
|Informative, concise, professional||1.5|
|Introduction||13 pts total|
|Clarity of purpose||3|
|Broad environmental issue discussed||3|
|Thesis statement clearly identifiable||2|
|Supporting points relate to thesis||5|
|Body||20 pts total|
|Section Headers used||2|
|Each supporting point addressed||5|
|Details for each point sufficient to clearly support thesis||5|
|Appropriate research used to support point||3|
|Examples provided to support point||2|
|Remediation efforts detailed||3|
|Conclusion||12 pts total|
|Thesis statement referenced||1|
|Each supporting point is summarized||4|
|Global remediation and difficulties mentioned||2|
|Wrap-up includes how this research plays into the larger environmental issue||3|
|Future trends, or additional knowledge needed||2|
|Literature Cited||13 pts total|
|All sources cited in the text are included||3|
|Minimum of 6 sources total||2|
|Minimum of 3 peer reviewed sources||3|
|All sources correctly formatted||5|
Title; Agent Orange and its effects on the Environment and people
Length; 6 pages (1650 words)