Intro to Oceanography

Tips for your first writing assignment


Carefully read the assignment description. Pay particular attention to the "Scoring Rubric". This is how your paper will be graded. Don't forget to read "Elements of a Science Investigation" and "Anatomy of a Science Paper". This effort will pay of in a better grade and more confidence as you write.


Using data: All of the plate tectonics data will come from the "Our Dynamic Planet" section of  the "EarthEd" CDROM. You will capture images from the MAP screen, which will automatically upload them to your personal graphics storage area. Then you will link them to your writing using the Writer. You can also make hand sketches using the graphics editor. Don't try to scan in pictures from the book. Students sometimes feel that the book picture of a subduction zone is better than a simple sketch. But, the book figures have too much detail and you almost never has enough data to support all of that detail. This means that the scientific argument will be flawed and your score will suffer.


Handing it in: The assignment due date and time are specified in the "Weekly Assignments" table. The text is entered into EarthEd Writer, saved, and handed in electronically. Before the deadline, you can hand in the paper as many times as you want, but after the deadline, the TA has to be present to force the system to accept your paper. This arrangement has the advantage that you can hand in the paper early and get TA or instructor feedback, then revise the paper and hand it in again, prior to the deadline.


Biggest tip of all: Go through all of the steps (except for handing it in), with a short version of your paper, as early as possible. Many students find the creation and linking of graphics to be the most difficult, if their computer skills are weak. Get your figures early! This will ensure that if you have computer problems, you will be able to get to an office hr or email the TA or prof to get help, and won't get into a last minute frustration.


Mechanics of creating the paper: READ CAREFULLY

1. Capture all of the figures you will need from the MAP software. They should upload to your online graphics storage area as you capture them.

3.     If you want to create any hand drawings (I call them cartoons) to show what your model is, do this on the graphics editor in the Writer. Don't forget to click the "Save" button to upload your figure when you are done editing it.

4.     The assignment writeup specifies what headings you must use. Enter your text and be particularly careful to enter it under the correct heading. This will assure that your paper is organizaed according to good science writing practice.

5.     You will be able to cut and paste your text from within the EarthEd Writer, but you will not be able to paste in text from external sources, like web pages. Any quotes from web pages should be short anyway, and don't forget to reference them. Put quotation marks around quotes of text you did not author.

6.     Link in the figures that you will use, from your graphics library. Be sure and enter a caption for each figure. Refer to each figure in your text.

7.     Save your paper.

8.     Print a copy. This is an important step, even though you won't be handing a printed copy in. It provides a safe backup in the event something happens to your paper. It's a rare occurence, but has happened.

9.     Proof-read the paper, then make last minute edits.

10.  Save final copy.

11.  Click the "Hand In" button to hand in the paper. Note: After the due time, you cannot automatically hand in revisions. But, if you have an important revision, and you are not very late, you can ask your TA to accept it. The TA can "force" the hand-in.


Getting help:

Check TA office hrs on the class web page. Send email to TA's or It will be very hard to get help at the last minute so start early. You can leave the fine tuning to the end, if you must.


Disaster recovery:

The EarthEd Writer software saves your paper to your hard drive every five minutes. Ten copies are saved. This means that if your computer crashes while you are working on your paper, or if your paper mysteriously disappears, you can click on the "Disaster Recovery" icon and examine the last ten versions of your previous work, in five minute increments. The disaster recovery system only works for the computer that you are currently working on, so if your computer, or the EarthEd program crashes, then you go to another computer, your work will not be available.


Note: if you decide that you want to use a previous version, loaded with "disaster recovery", don't forget to save it.


If you experience crashes, strongly consider getting a copy of Norton Systemworks and have it clean out your system. Spyware and other nasty infestations will also adversely affect EarthEd.