Research Paper Guide

Research Paper Guide, College of the Redwoods, Meteo 1 and Ocean 10, Fall 2012

 In this document I would like to review what is expected to be included in the scientific research paper. I also discuss what is expected to be included in the outline. There is an example source paper on the website. I use this example paper to write an example outline.

Here is a pdf of this research paper guide: CR Research Paper Guide
Here is a pdf of the paper i used to prepare the example outline/abstract: hall_etal_1992_influence_weather_hawk_movements_nor_cal.pdf

For the paper, I would like us to review scientific research conducted that explores some meteorological/oceanographic phenomena/phenomenon. This is commonly known as a “review article.” If you are in Meteo 1, I want the paper topic to relate to weather or climate. If you are in Ocean 10, I want the paper topic to relate to oceanography. If you are in both classes, I want two different papers. However, because the atmosphere and ocean are linked in many ways, I welcome two papers on related subjects (one from the oceanographic perspective and one from the meteorological perspective).

Each student is required to submit a 5-10 page research paper. The paper will be formatted with one inch margins and in a font size of 12 points in Times New Roman, double spaced. The information should come from your own observations, scientific articles on the subject, and/or library and internet research.

A research paper on a topic of interest to you that is related to Meteorology/Oceanography is required from each student.  Your work must include:

1) References that need to be from the original source such as the article, interview, or book.

2) 5-10 pages of text, double spaced.

3) At least one figure (with a caption) describing the location of interest.

4) At least one image, drawing, or plot with a caption describing what the image/drawing/plot is showing.

5) A minimum of three references from original sources, not including your textbook.  (though the textbook is a great source of ideas for your paper)

 Scientific Papers typically contain these main sections:

  • Abstract (summary of the paper; here is an abstract writing guide: The abstract is the most important part of scientific papers because many people read the abstract to find out if they want to read the entire paper.
  • Introduction (Introduce topic, provide background information, mention the goal of this paper, state the hypothesis/hypotheses to be tested)
  • Data and Methods (list the data types and what methods are used to collect the data; also list the analytical methods used)
  • Results (list  the results of the data collection and analyses)
  • Discussion (this is where one discusses how the results support or refute the hypothesis/hypotheses mentioned in the introduction.
  • Conclusion (this is a summary of the paper; remember to again state if the hypothesis/hypotheses were disproved or not)
  • References (list your references here; the minimum for this paper is three references)

There are many variances of this structure. Please choose one structure and stick with it (mine or one from one of the websites provided here). Please look at the various scientific paper writing guides to help. Here are a few of them I found in less than a minute of searching on the internet. Use the

The librarian can help you with formatting your references. Choose a typical scientific format for your references and use this for all your references (e.g. the MLA format taught in English classes). The writing lab is another resource available to you, as mentioned on the first day of class. The writing lab is also a good place to learn how to write good paragraphs and good sentences.


 Please prepare an outline for your scientific paper. For an outline, I would write a draft abstract (see example below). I understand that we might not be able to include all parts of a typical abstract (like you may not be prepared to discuss the results and conclusions yet). Just do your best. My primary interest in having us write this outline is to make sure we are on track early in the semester so we do not fall behind. I would like us to use a minimum of three papers for sources of information, but only one paper is needed to write the abstract. Please do not use the abstract as published in the paper that is being used for your paper. Here is an abstract writing guide:

 Here is the abstract from the paper I posted online:

 Sharp-shinned (Accipiters triatus),Cooper’s (A. cooperil], and Red-tailed (Buteo jamaicensis) hawks, and the total species (19) occurring in the Marin Headlands, Marin County, California, were quantified in relation to seven weather variables. Peak counts of raptors occurred in mid- to late September, with counts largely composed of immature hawks. More adult hawks were counted in mid- to late October. Adult and immature Sharpshinned and Cooper’s hawk counts were correlated with days before and after cold fronts, increasing temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed, and decreasing fog cover. Numbers of adult and immature Red-tailed Hawks were correlated negatively with fog and days before cold fronts and positively with temperature and barometric pressure. Cold front presence or absence did not affect Red-tailed Hawk numbers in 1986-1988. Fewer Accipiters and Red-tailed Hawks were counted with south winds (headwinds) blowing, and in 1988 more adult birds were counted with north winds (tailwinds). Increasing temperatures, decreasing fog, and an absence of headwinds were correlated the most with counts of all species in the Headlands; cold front presence or absence had no significant influence on numbers in 1986- 1988. A decreasing number of days before and after cold fronts was also generally associated with counts.

 Here is how I would write the draft abstract

(this is your own work, please do not just copy the abstract from your source reference).

 Title: The Influence of Weather on raptor behavior in the Marin Headlands, Marin County, California.

Abstract: Historic hawk migration sites are well known all over the world, but little is known about the factors that control these migration routes. Seven weather variables are compiled and then compared to counts of hawk observations in order to develop relations between these factors. Weather observations are recorded at regular intervals (wind direction, wind speed, temperature, fog, barometric pressure, presence or absence of cold fronts, and number of days before or after frontal systems). Raptors are counted daily from mid-August to mid-December, for the years of 1986-1988. The number of hawks is summarized by 15-day intervals for each year, each species, and age. The number of hawks per hour for each sample day is compared with the seven weather variables and correlation analyses were conducted. Fog and temperature were highly correlated with all species in the Marin Headlands. Cold front presence or absence did not influence raptor counts. We find that temperature and fog slightly controls raptor counts. The number of hawks is controlled by weather patterns, but there is a weak correlation (so there may be other factors that control raptor population beyond what we included in this research).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Course Material and Educational Resources