In-class journal - Spring 2017

Updated January 23, 2017


Journal of Earth History Reviews



Welcome to the Journal of Earth History Reviews - the best on-line, peer-review journal that's never been published. Peer review is a fundamental part of being an active scientist and many students have little experience with it until they begin to publish their thesis research. In a recent article, Richard Somerville discussed the value of having students select and author contributions which are then anonymously peer-reviewed by classmates. After a round of revisons, the papers are 'published' as an in-class, on-line journal by the instructors. Rather than being a 'sage on the stage', instructors act as editors on the sidelines, guiding the inquiry-based learning process.

Timeline and Deadlines

Students can chose one of the general themes below or propose their own topic, before Feb 14, 2017.

You will have about 6 weeks to write the paper (Due March 30, 2017), two weeks to review 2 other papers (anonymously; reviews due to Maureen on April 13th), and then another two weeks to revise the paper with rebuttal (April 27th). Some papers may require a second round of revision and all papers must be submitted to the Journal by May 5th.

Manuscript Format

Please use the following format to guide your research and writing. For consistency, please use 12 pt font, single-spaced, 1.25" margins and aim for 10 pages of text not including references (at least 20-25 primary scientific references), captions, or figures. This should be about 6,000 words.

A guide to scientific writing style and format can be found here from Carleton University (Process of Science).

Title page, Author, and Abstract

1. Introduction and Statement of the Problem

2. Historical context

3. Key questions defining the problem

4. Recent advances and new discoveries

5. Technical or conceptual advances leading to discovery

6. Remaining questions and opportunities for future study

7. Summary

8. References

9. Figure and/or Table Captions

10. Figures (up to 10 figures)


holistic: including clarity of writing, creativity, comprehensiveness, organization, your reviews of others, professionalism, etc.


Sample Review Paper Topics

Have rates of seafloor spreading and mantle degassing changed over last 100 Ma?

Is there a relationship between volcanism and climate change on millennial to million year time scales?

When and why did the Sahara desert develop?

When and why the Amazon rain forest develop?

How large have excursions in the ITCZ been in the past?

Is there a relationship between climate change and plankton evolution over the Cenozoic?

Has ocean salinity composition changed over the Cenozoic?

How do we understand the extreme polar warmth of Eocene?

What was and what caused the Messinian Salinity Crisis?

What is the Monterey Hypothesis and what problem does it address?

How has global organic carbon burial changed over the Cenozoic and why?

How has the depth of the calcite compensation depth changed over the Cenozoic and why?

How have global silicate weathering rates changed over the Cenozoic?

Extreme interglacials, MIS5, MIS11, MIS31: a comparison

How do geologic and historical sea level rise/fall rates compare?

How do we know how large the LGM ice sheets were?

Why did atmospheric CO2 increase after the LGM?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of different paleo-CO2 proxies?

How has ocean chemistry evolved over the late Cenozoic?

What is our current thinking on the “100 K problem”?

Did the closure of the Isthmus of Panama influence global climate?

What caused the cooling and glaciation of Antarctica at the E-O boundary?

When did Antarctica transition from a terrestrial-based to a primarily marine-based ice sheet?

Was there a “permanent El Niño” state in the tropical Pacific during the Pliocene?

How high was sea level during the Mid Pliocene Warm Period?

What caused the initiation of Northern Hemisphere glaciation?

What caused the Mid-Pleistocene Transition?

What caused the PETM?