Final assignment (due on Dec. 3, 2012)

One of the main goals of this seminar class is for you to learn not to believe everything you see in print, and to be able to read and think critically about literature in peer-reviewed journals. Thus, your "big" assignment for this course is to pick a paper from the scientific literature (obviously, it must relate to Mars in some way) and write a more in-depth critical review of it.

Overall, your paper should be 7-10 pages in length, double-spaced, with 1" or 1.25" margins and 10-12 point font. Include a cover page, and abstract, and the body of your paper; figures can be integrated within the text or all placed at the end. Please number all the pages. All figures should have acknowledgments of where they came from (if this was a real publication, you'd have to get copyright permission!). Your paper should also contain a reference list of 10-12 types of material. Less than half of these should come from the web; thes others must be published books or articles. Your reference list should be formatted in a consistent style, presumably something like one of the journals you are using.

Some tips:

1. In the body of the text, every time you give a fact that is not common knowledge, you MUST follow it with a citation (i.e., a reference saying where you got that information).

2. Also, please try to make use of headings (and even subheadings); these will make your paper easier to follow, and help you with structure.

3. Please do not use first person, narrative style, in your paper -- I want this to be a formal paper, in a style that could actually be submitted to a journal.

4. Many of you will need to use superscripts and subscripts in your papers. It's worth taking time to learn how to do this (it is very simple). You just highlight the number, then go to Format and then Font, and click the box on the font menu that says "superscript" or "subscript".

5. Get in the habit of using abbreviations for units whenever possible (mbar, km, etc.). When you submit a paper to a scientific journal, they insist on using abbreviations because it saves on space in the journal, and therefore saves money!

6. Note that Mars is usually capitalized, but the "sun" and the word "martian" are not. Also, chemical elements are not proper nouns, and therefore should not be capitalized.

7. Finally, please be sure that you demonstrate some critical thinking in your paper. During this class I have tried hard to help all of you get comfortable with the idea of criticizing work that has been published. Your final project here should not just be a regurgitation (all of you have been able to do that since high school), but a critical commentary on what is known about the topic and how it is interpreted. Without this component of critical thought, your paper is nothing more that a high school book report... I know you can all do better than that!

Other criteria for grading:
1. Spelling and punctuation -- I expect you to proofread your work carefully!
2. Writing style, flow, organization, clarity of expression.
3. Proper use of references in the text.
4. Use of the library: appropriateness of references used, how difficult it was for you to find those references, etc.

Note that I am asking that you hand in not only this paper, but EVERY PAPER from this semester on Dec. 3. I will review your entire semester's worth of work before assigning you a grade. Note that I will be looking to see if you've learned from your past mistakes...