Your paper will allow you to focus on a topic of your own interest in the field of marine science. I can be thought of as uniting your knowledge of some of the major course themes or exploring one idea more fully. You may choose a topic from the list below, or suggest your own topic of current research.
It is best to focus on a somewhat narrowly defined topic for this short paper. You will delve into the scientific literature and synthesize the ideas from three recent scholarly articles that address your chosen topic.
The paper will summarize the background of the topic and incorporate the key points of each of your three references. It will conclude with a summary of progress that was made in this field of marine science or a critical analysis of competing ideas presented by these three studies.
Acidification effects on (organisms of your choice)
Climate change effects on (ecosystem or organisms of your choice)
Recovery of (ecosystem of your choice) after a (tsunami/hurricane/other disturbance)
Pollution (pick a type) effects on (ecosystem or organism of your choice)
If you are interested in a topic that is not on this list, it can be approved by the course instructor by the end of week 4.
Paper Details and Grading
The paper should be 1200-1500 words long, not including the citation section. It is due by the last day of week 9. In order to receive full credit for the paper (100 points total) it should address some of the most recent scientific progress on your topic and the following questions.
Introduction: What is the topic and why is it important? What are the ideas that you will address in this paper? (This may simply be the three scholarly articles that you have chosen – explain what each paper contributes to the overall topic.) (25 points)
Body of paper/for each reference: If the paper was a review or expository article, indicate that it was used as background material. If the paper was a primary research report, what was the specific aim or hypothesis of the study? Briefly, if applicable, what are the methods used to address the hypothesis? What were the major results and conclusions of the study? (40 points)
Conclusion: What progress has been made in our understanding of this topic? Are there similarities or differences in the conclusions of the three studies, if applicable? What are the scientific questions that are being addressed or that remain unexplained in this field? (25 points)
Sources and Citations (10 points)
Try to choose source material that has been published within the last 5-15 years in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Quite often, the most interesting studies are also summarized and reported in other reputable science publications such as Science Daily, Science, or Nature Magazines. Starting with these “summary” articles can help you to understand the context and conclusions of the study.
In your citation section at the end of the paper, please cite these sources as well as the initial publication of the scientific study. If you are unsure about using a particular source material, please ask the instructor if it is a good choice.
It can be useful to use a review article as a source of background, but these may cover an excess of information – please consult the instructor to approve your articles if you are not sure if your choices are appropriate. Citations can be indicated in the text by sequential numbering or by (author, publication year). Citation formatting is up to you, but should be consistent.