Term Paper Guidelines
One writing assignment is required for the course. It should be at least 2,000 words
long. Spelling and grammar will be heavily emphasized in the grade assignment.
Each paper will also be checked for plagiarism. You cannot pass the course
without completing the writing assignment with a passing grade.
The topic of the term paper should be relevant to the course. Examples of past
topics include evolution, dinosaurs, a particular type of dinosaur, a particular
time period, formation of earth, etc. If you are not sure if your topic is relevant,
please check with me.
Be very careful about plagiarism. It is easy to do accidentally - it's your job to make
sure that you write an original paper. I WILL check your references - if I see that your
material is too similar to your references, you may lose points or may score zero
depending on the seriousness of the offense.
FORMAT OF THE PAPER
REMEMBER: THIS IS ONLY AN EXAMPLE! YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO
YOUR PAPER ON EARTHQUAKES IN CALIFORNIA!!
ALSO: DO NOT LABEL THE PARTS OF YOUR PAPER SUCH AS BODY,
Your paper should include the sections listed below. It should be typed with 1 inch
margins, double-spaced, and with 12 point type.
PAGE 1 —
Include the title of your paper and your name as the author
BEGINNING ON PAGE 2 —
Introduce the topic (e.g. earthquake hazard) and the place (location, population, etc.).
Include any historical background you may not address in the body of the paper. You
might also include here anything about the significance or impact of your topic either
globally or in a particular location.
This is the bulk of the term paper and the most important section - you should break it
down into several topics that relate to your paper (These topics should have their own
headings). If your topic is “Earthquakes in California” for example, you could break
down the body of the paper into several topics like those listed below -each topic will
turn into at least one paragraph or a few paragraphs at most:
1) The history of earthquakes in California
2) Faults in California (or Faults in the San Francisco Bay Area)
3) The San Andreas fault
a) The 1906 San Francisco earthquake
- Location of the epicenter
- Surficial features caused by the earthquake (offset fences,
- Damage caused in San Francisco
b) The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake
(See examples in a) above)
4) The Hayward fault
5) Future earthquake potential and earthquake prediction
Summarize your paper in a paragraph or two. Only include items that are the most
relevant, exciting, or important.
You should reference at least 4 or 5 books, newspaper/journal/magazine articles,
maps, or websites to research your topic. Be sure your references are reputable such
as usgs.gov, geology.com, National Geographic, etc. Include references for anything
used in your figures - whether you photocopy, trace, scan, download figures. Follow
the format below for citing your references:
Smith, J.D., 1995, Historical earthquakes in California, California Geology , v. 100, p.
Smith, J.D., 1995, Historical earthquakes in California, Earth Science Publishers,
New York, 315p.
Discovering Plate Boundaries, Rice University: [http://zephyr.rice.edu/plateboundary/]
You should incorporate your references into your text like this: “There were 15
earthquakes larger than magnitude 3.0 in the Bay Area during 1999 (Smith, 1995).
Figure 3 shows a map of earthquake epicenters in the Bay Area for 1999 (see
http://www.usgs.gov/earthquakes/1999 ).” Many of you will choose to use several
web sites as references. Make sure you include the entire URL or web address. For
example, if you are referencing a specific earthquake, use the URL that takes me
directly to the information you are citing
(http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqinthenews/nc40133364/) and not the general web site
that you started your search through (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/). You may be
docked points for references that I can’t find (particularly for web sites).
Figures and Figure Captions
You should use figures such as maps, photos, line drawings, etc. to supplement your
paper. Only include figures if they are relevant, necessary to get your point across, or
if the topic is better understood with the figure. Unnecessary figures will be
considered "filler material" and may not count toward your total score on the
assignment. You are required to include at least 2 figures. You must include at least
one map to show the location or global significance of the topic you are researching.
For example, if you are looking at earthquakes in California, you could include a map
of California that shows the major fault lines in the state. If you are writing about a
hazard related to plate tectonics (e.g., earthquakes or volcanoes), you should include
an appropriate map showing the plate tectonic setting (for “Earthquakes in California”,
you could incorporate the boundary between the Pacific and North American plates
into your map of California)
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