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The Term Paper Guidelines


Your term paper will be done in two steps. First, you will write a draft, due Wednesday, 11 / 08 / 06. This paper will be graded as if it were a normal final draft. Doing the draft is not optional. We will mark it up with suggestions and we will expect that you follow the instructions below and give it good honest try. If you are satisfied with your grade, you don't have to do anything else with the term paper. However, if you are not, you can rewrite the paper and hand it in on Monday, 12 / 11 / 06, the last day of class. It will be graded again and the new grade substituted for the old. Below are our over all instructions.
 

I. Argue a problem. It a good idea to start with a problem and try to get specific. "Were the non-bird dinosaurs wiped out by an asteroid impact?" Argue the point, present referenced evidence or the summary of someone else's argument (again referenced). Do not do a book report.

2. Use primary references. Text books are not primary references and neither are most popular accounts such as newspaper articles or TIME magazine articles, or even books like Colbert's "The Dinosaur Book". Sometimes, of course, these are the only sources for a particular idea or datum, but this is very rare. Texts, however, are a good place for you to start to get ideas for your paper and as a guide to getting at the primary literature.

3. A WWW site is not an acceptable reference. I very strongly recommend surfing the web for resources on dinosaurs and related topics, however, the information you collect must have a literature reference not a Web reference. The good Web sites have a list of references. Use those; look them up in the library! Make sure the references conform to the concept of primary references as outlined above.

4. Use Clio and Georef. These bibliographic resources will speed you along in your search for references for your paper and get you very up to date!

5. Use a standard reference format. The most common way of attributing and idea is to place parentheses around the author after the critical point is made or where evidence is needed. For example, I might write the following:

Nine characters support the argument that the Dinosauria is a monophyletic group (Benton, 1990). These are . . .
or
According to Benton (1990), there are nine characters that support the argument that the Dinosauria is a monophyletic group. These are . . .
Then at the end of the paper would be the references you used and (Benton, 1990) would be listed as follows:
Benton, M.J., 1990, Origin and relationships of the dinosaurs. In Weishampel, D.B., Dodson, P., and Osmolska, H. (eds.), The Dinosauria, University of California Press, Berkeley, p. 11-30.
Note that Benton's article in the book The Dinosauria is listed as a separate article. We do not cite just the book. Other papers that are not in a multi-authored, edited book should have the following format:
Russell, D.A. and Beland, P., 1976, Running dinosaurs. Nature, v. 264, p. 486.
If you do cite a book, use the following format:
Raup, D.M., 1991, Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck. W.W. Norton, New York, 210 p.
Remember to list only those references in you paper which you cite in the text. Do not list a reference just because you read it.

6. Make it about 10 pages long, double spaced. A concise paper is much better than a long paper. You will find that if you actually spell out an argument, and have a point to be made, you will have plenty to say.

7. Make sure you attribute ideas and data to proper sources. It is a very bad idea to construct your paper from a series of quotes. You do not need to use quotes unless you need to quote the text verbatim, such as in an especially eloquent statement. Paraphrasing is much better, but make sure you reference the idea.

8. Use a computer word processing program. These days there are no reasons not to have a word processed manuscript.

9. If you use a word processor make sure you know how to use it. Do not give me a 10 ft long piece of green-striped fan-fold paper because you did not know how to tell your computer to paginate the text.

Make sure you back up your disks regularly !!!

Make sure you do not send me your only copy !!!

10. If you copy a paper from a student from a previous year, a current year, or off a Web  site, you are in big trouble. I have copies of all the papers ever handed in to me. If you are desperate, come talk to me about it; I am sure we can work something out.

11. Get your research done as soon as possible. You may need to get things on interlibrary loan ? it can take 3 weeks!

12. Note: the first draft of the paper is due on Monday 11 / 08 / 06 no later than 2:15 pm and the final version of the term paper is due 5 / 03 / 04 (last day of class), no later than 2:15 pm. Late papers will be penalized, so don't be late!



Term Paper Topics: A list of suggested topics (but not the only ones).

Library Information specifically on dinosaurs: Information that will be useful to you for your the term paper

Library Web: The main source for literature information for your term paper.

Term Paper Meeting: A lecture designed to give you last-minute help with your paper on Wed. 3/10/04

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