Standards for Written Project Reports


Your paper should be of a standard appropriate for a junior-senior level course in a science department at a major university.

This means your grade will depend both on content and on the effectiveness with which you communicate your material. The descriptions below indicate what is expected for each grade level.
Grade Description of a typical paper at this grade level
A A thorough and well-supported synthesis of your chosen aspect of the region's climate. The paper is clearly written and effectively organized. Explanations are supported by clear and readable maps or charts where necessary (and only where necessary). References are properly cited. Material is thorougly supported by references to high-quality sources such as peer-reviewed journal articles with no citations from encyclopedias or anonymous web pages. A paper at this level may contain an element of originality.
B Similar to an A paper but lacking in some way. The topic is clearly discussed. References are from high-quality sources such as peer-reviewed journal articles with no citations from encyclopedias or anonymous web pages. Often papers at this level are thorough but not clearly presented; for example, they may be too wordy or not well organized.
C Includes a reasonable treatment of the topic but with notable deficiencies in coverage and presentation. For example, arguments may not be well supported, or there may be discussions of human activities or natural features that do not clearly explain how they are related to climate. The paper may not be clearly organized, or may contain excessive errors in spelling, grammar and usage. Graphs and charts typically are copied and pasted from other sources with little attention to clarity or legibility. Uses inappropriate references such as encyclopedias or anonymous web pages. References may not be properly cited. Papers at this level often contain large stretches of material based on only one or two references.
D Typical of a paper done at the last minute. The paper attempts to include most of the information in A, B or C papers but is put together haphazardly. For example, graphs may be included but not discussed in the text, or a list of references may be given without proper literature citations. There is little or no attempt to integrate the material into a coherent whole. A paper at this level usually includes "padding" that attempts to hide a lack of content.
F A paper will receive an F grade for any of the following three reasons:
(1) The paper is submitted late, regardless of the reason (yes, this includes illness or other emergency).

(2) Poor quality of material and presentation. The paper is a recitation of facts with no synthesis or interpretation. Attempted explanations — if any — show no real understanding of concepts developed in the course. Poorly written: rambling and discursive, or with so many errors that comprehension is impaired.

(3) Plagiarism. Any plagiarized material will result in a grade of zero for the entire regional climate report (not just the written submission). As required by university policy, the matter will be referred to the Dean of Students. Most of you are juniors or seniors and should know what plagiarism is by now. If you have the slightest doubt whatsoever regarding plagiarism, I will be glad to discuss it with you. Do this before you submit your material!

Specific requirements





What to submit

Do you want a higher grade?

These points often make the difference between an "A" paper and a "B" paper (or between a "C" and "D" paper, but let's not go there):