What kinds of writing assignments can I expect in Geology courses?
  • Minute papers (short, in-class writing)
  • Field and laboratory notebooks
  • Hand sample, thin section, and fossil description
  • Abstracts and literature summaries
  • Annotated bibliographies
  • Laboratory reports
  • Essays
  • Scientific papers
What are the qualities of good writing in Geology?
  • A good paper is clear, cogent, concise, and has a logical flow of ideas.
  • The scientific ideas expressed should be accurate.
  • Observations and data reported should be accurate and complete
  • For many papers, synthesis of ideas, observations, and data is particularly important
  • Correct grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure is important in producing a finished product.
How will I be graded? 

In grading your writing, your professor will consider some or all of the following, depending on the nature of the assignment:

  • Understanding of course material – have you demonstrated that you understand the topic about which you are writing?
  • Accuracy – have you accurately portrayed the data, observations or arguments?
  • Completeness – have you included all relevant data, observations, arguments, and literature citations?
  • Synthesis – have you demonstrated that you understand the connections between the elements of your argument?
  • Format & style – is your paper properly constructed and free of grammatical or spelling errors? Also, is it concise – expressed in a minimum number of words, without extraneous material?
  • Citations & references – does your paper contain adequate and properly cited references from the literature?
What citation conventions should I use in Geology papers?
  • Generally, you should use the citation and reference conventions of the Geological Society of America (http://www.geosociety.org); refer to a recent issue of the journal Geology or GSA Bulletin for formats.
  • For some courses, you may use a different convention (e.g., Paleontological Society). Your professor will inform you if the citation convention will be different.
Citation & plagiarism
  • Plagiarism is the use of another person’s words or ideas as your own. If you quote, paraphrase a passage, or use an idea or conclusion, you must cite it.
  • Failure to properly cite your sources or copying material from someone else is academic dishonesty and is grounds for failure in the course.