Geology 117: The Oceans

Optional Extra-Credit Paper

You may earn up to 10% of your grade by submitting a report/paper. This must be a substantial paper and must be well written, and only excellent papers will earn the full amount. In special cases, with the approval of the instructor, reports other than traditional reports will be acceptable (i.e. independant research, video, multimedia, faux magazine articles, etc.)

++ Poor quality papers will receive no points (this is an extra credit activity). Mediocre papers (e.g., those that might earn you a C grade if this paper were required) will only get a few points.

As always, use of material that is not your own (e.g., plagiarized material from web pages, papers written by others) may result in severe penalties in this course and/or by the university.

A one paragraph (approx 1/2 to 1 page) summary of the paper is due Monday April 1 by 5PM

Papers are due at 5PM on Monday, 4/22/01.

You and the instructor will choose a topic is acceptable to both. However, your topic must be something of current/recent interest in oceanography and not just a reiteration of material in a textbook (e.g., describing what El Niño events are). To get full credit, you must do more than just summarize some ideas. You must sythnesize and critically analyze the ideas. If you have doubts about a topic, references or other matters, get in touch with the instructor immediately.

Some examples that you may use if you wish:

The report should be organized in the following format:

++The paper is to be 8 to 10 pages, double spaced, font no larger than 12 points, margins of 1 inch on each side (except for first or cover pages). The reference list is included in the 8 to 10 pages. You may also include figures, maps and tables in the body of the paper. Make sure to properly reference them even if you make significant modifications. They should also be as small as reasonably possible to see the information on them - not take up whole pages. Whole page figures will NOT be counted in the 8-10 pages.

++ Use internal subheadings to organize the text. Avoid paragraphs that are over one-half page in length.

++ The figures and/or tables must be numbered and referenced in the text, and must be relevant and important.

++You need not quote the references verbatim, but you must cite references for each idea you present that is highly technical or specific. By all means, use quotes where useful and necessary!

Example of a citation:

In the last five El Niño events, the thermocline has apparently deepened permanently in the eastern pacific ocean (Schrag et al., 1999).

This type of citation is used in scientific papers. We usually rely less on direct quotations. Give the information in your own words, but tell where it comes from in the citation in parentheses.

The text and reserve books have comprehensive lists of references and are a good place to begin to identify published books and articles in journals on your topic. Your paper should include at least five primary references. The Internet is also a good place for up-to-date material on many topics. However, web sites are of varying quality, and it may be difficult for a novice to distinguish between and good and bad site. Use web sites with caution; they should not be your main sources. If you include web pages in your bibliography, you MUST give the date you accessed the pages.

Books on reserve in the Geology Library may be of some help to get started with this paper.

It is expected that you will use tables and/or figures in your paper. The bibliography should include all sources that you used in preparing your paper. All items listed in the bibliography must be cited in the text, tables, and/or figures. Use the format of bibliographic citation in the textbook (books, articles, and Internet sources) as a guide formatting your bibliography.

Papers will be evaluated on appropriateness of topic (is the topic relevant to the oceans), scientific content (e.g., how well the topic is developed), organization, quality of sources, use of tables and figures, and grammar and clarity of expression.


General Help in finding data and references:

You will need a list of references in any standard format (preferably geology format where the title of the article as well as the identity of the magazine, journal or newspaper is given). At least three of these references must be from sources other than Web sites. You may use as many Web sites as you want as long as they are current (i.e. the URL you give in the reference list will allow me to use my browser to get directly to the page you reference.)

The web is a good source of initial information, usually started by seaching Google, altavista, or other search sites. Another good search site is the library, and specifically Georef through the Geology Library site. Georef indexes all the geologically (incl. Oceanography) journals and books and is especially good if you have a name or a title from an initial search on the Web or from newspapers or magazines.

More mass market magazines and newpaper articles can be found by searching the Readers Guide to Periodicals and other indexes at the library or on their web site. Do not hesitate to ask the librarians to help with the search.

Appropriate level articles are often found in consumer science magazines like "Scientific American", "American Scientist", "Discover" and others. You can quickly scan the index published in the december issue of these magazines for your topic. These magazines then also usually have references to more specific articles in other magazines and in the scientific literature (i.e journals) that you should then follow up. A quick thing to do is to get the Dec. 2001 issue of these magazines and quickly scan through the index for any article on your topic in the last year.

Many of these more detailed articles are found in two prestigious journals that cover all branches of science, called "Nature", and "Science". These two journals are found in almost every science library on campus and can be searched from a web browser and the library site. They contain short news stories on many topics in the front, short scientific articles with lots of references, and longer review articles on a variety of topics. El Nino, the Ozone hole, Life in Antarctic ice (Jan. 25, 2002) are some of the review articles. Although the details found in these articles are mostly beyond my expectations for your paper - you should be able to gather a great deal of info from reading the introduction and conclusions of any article found in "Nature" or "Science". Again, getting the Dec. issue and scanning the index is an efficient way of finding stuff (and is actually usually faster than using the Web).

Of course there are also journals devoted to more narrow topics such as Physical Oceanography, chemical and Biological Oceanography that will have articles devoted to your topic. Again, reading the introduction and conclusions of such papers will help add meat to your paper.

Good luck and if you want more specific help, feel free to email or see me either in class or office hours. Please make an appointment if you are not able to make office hours because I am often in other parts of the building and out of my office at other times.