Geology 105 - Paleontology
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Term Paper Overview

The ultimate product of this assignment will be a 6-10 page paper analyzing a current controversy in paleontology. The assignment is broken into chunks to keep you organized and encourage a professional approach to your writing.

Part I: Topic Proposal due 2/13: List of possible topics

Write a one page proposal of your topic. You may choose from the list provided, or any other paleontologic topic that interests you. Your topic must be centered on a active issue in paleontology and should be very specific (i.e., "paleoecological evidence for warm-bloodedness in dinosaurs" is okay, "dinosaur extinction" is not). Explain what topic you have chosen and why you have chosen it. Mention what you already know (or think you know) about the topic. The purpose of this installment is to help you clarify your ideas about your topic before you start your research.

Part II: Outline and Bibliography due 2/25

This installment includes an annotated list of at least 10 references, and an outline of the paper.  See the Outline link for more detailed information.

Part III: Paper

First Draft due to Turnitin 3/18
FIrst Draft paper version due in class 3/20
Graded Draft due to Turnitin 4/15
Graded Draft due in class 4/17

The paper is due in drafts.  Each draft must be turned in on line to Turnitin before being due in class. 

Two drafts are required, but I will read as many drafts as you choose to turn in.  The second draft will be graded.  If you choose to write more drafts, I will replace the previous grade with the grade from the most current draft.

See the Paper link for detailed information.

Part IV: Poster Session.  Either 3/20 or 4/17 - you will sign up.

You will create a large scale poster in Power Point and have it printed at the Student Tech Center.  You will give a 10 minute presentation about your subject to the class.


If any part of the paper is turned in late (including the first draft), the grade on the paper will drop by a whole grade (from A to B). You will not receive a grade on the topic proposal, the outline or the first draft. You will recieve separate grades on the graded draft and on the poster.

Grading Standard:

The A paper will be well-organized and free of errors of grammar, spelling and sentence structure. The paper will analyze issues and offer evidence in support of its arguments. It will use an appropriate format and properly cite references. It will be a pleasure to read.

The B paper will be well-organized and will communicate well. The analysis may be flawed or be insufficiently supported by evidence. There may be small errors in format. There may be minor errors of structure or language.

The C paper will lack analysis. The paper will summarize rather than analyze, and will be poorly organized. There may be significant errors in format. There may be significant problems with organization and communication.

The D paper will be poorly organized with no analysis and poorly executed summary. The paper may simply be a collection of unsupported opinions or descriptions. There may be significant errors in format.

The F paper will fail to meet the assignment requirements. The paper may fail to communicate, or it may be off-topic. A plagiarized or purchased paper will earn an F.