Topic for the First Essay
- "The Avian Flu Pandemic. Discuss the different attitudes and forecasts of scientists and politicians."
- "Nuclear Energy in Ontario. Discuss the views of scientists, politicians, environmentalists, and the public."
- Your choice.
- Topics for the Second Essay
Instructions for Both Essays
- ""Only by learning some science can we be persuaded that it is important to know some science. It is not easy to overcome
this paradox. Yet, only by overcoming it can we, as responsible citizens, participate fully in our society.""
- Your choice.
- Each essay should be approximately 1000 words long (first essay) and approximately 2000 words long (second essay), and is worth
20% and 40%, respectively, of the final grade. The due dates are November 22 and
March 14, respectively. In case of emergencies, please get in touch with the instructor as
soon as possible (do not write to the discussion list)
- The free topic ("Your choice"), when available, must be approved by the instructor in writing. In order
obtain such approval, please submit in person or by email a 2-page proposal, with full bibliography. Such a
proposal can also be submitted by those who select one of the assigned topics.
- Discuss the selected topic, using your own words, and summarize relevant, real, examples (not hypothetical or invented ones)
supporting your statements. Brief quotations ("...") are allowed, but they must be referenced. Pictures and graphs can be used, if
really necessary, and they too must be referenced
- All pieces of information that are not obviously common knowledge must have a precise reference (authors, title, publication, publication
date and place, and page number; or complete URLs with date when last accessed). Examples of information which is common knowledge:
"the earth is round," "Canada is in North America," "toasters use electricity," "a floppy disk is a medium for storing information," etc.
Examples of information which is not common knowledge: "the speed of light is 186,000 miles/hr," "there are currently x people using
the internet," "the basic principle of a gyroscope is the conservation of angular momentum," etc.
- Dictionaries (such as, for example, Webester's or Oxford) can not be used as scientific references. Use dictionaries, however,
when you wish to point out the common, popular meaning of a word, or to get a first idea of what a word or term may mean, and then find an appropriate, authoritative reference
- Avoid rhetoric (example: "since time immemorial humankind has been very interested in this...")
- Use simple, clear, precise language (don't try to impress the instructor with big words, especially if you are not sure you understand them).
Remember that simplicity, clarity and precision are major requirements in science
- The essay can be submitted on paper, or electronically, but only as plain text (simple e-mail message) or as rtf attachments.
I will acknowledge receipt of electronically submitted essays, and let you know if I have problems opening attachments, etc.
- Don't even think of plagiarizing, whether from other people or from the internet. The penalties are very severe, and may go as far
as expulsion from the university. Re-read the page on Academic Honesty
- A very good resource on issues of plagiarism, citations, copyright, etc. in essays is Synthesis: Using the Work of Others.
- If you don't understand the wording of some topic or have some other problem with some topic, do not write to me, but to the discussion list,
because my answers hopefully will be useful to everybody. Obvious as this may seem, if you find a topic difficult, please select another (if
- Finally, do not forget the many resources freely available to you. Check Atkinson's Writing Programs
21st Century Information Fluency Project
(Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy)
The 21st Century Information Fluency Project (21CIF) provides professional development, tools and
resources to develop the digital information fluency skills of educators and learners in Illinois
- What information Am I looking for?
- Where will I find the information?
- How will I get there?
- How Good is the Information?
- How will I Ethically Use the Information?
Deep Content: Guide to Effective Searching of the Internet
- Searching with Internet Provided Resources
- Keywords — The Essence of the Search
- Boolean Basics
- Advanced Operators
- Advanced Construction
- Pitfalls to Avoid
- Using Filters
- Understand Your Engines
- Specialty Searches
- Solutions and the Future of Searching
- Summary and Further Information
- Notes, Links and References
Help with Research
- How Do I Do Basic Research in the York Libraries?
- Online Tutorial: Library Resarch Roadmap
- Audio Tutorial
- How Do I Search for Journal Articles in an Index or Database?
- I'm Unfamiliar with the Topic I'm Researching. Where Can I Find Subject Research Guides?
- What Does that Library Jargon Mean?
- What Are Call Numbers?
- How do I find information on the Internet on my topic?
- How Can I Use Library Resources from Home?
- Attend a Research Skills Workshop
- Ask a Question
Library Research Guide: Learn How to Use the Library
(University of Minnesota):
- Starting Your Research
- Designing a Research Strategy
- Finding Books
- Finding Articles
- Finding Web Sites
- Finding Facts, Reviews and More
- Evaluating Sources
- Citing Sources
Purdue's Online Writing Lab (OWL)
- The OWL at Purdue
- The Writing Lab at Purdue
- The Writing Lab Newsletter
(University of Washington):
Research 101 is an interactive online tutorial for students wanting an
introduction to research skills. The tutorial covers the basics,
including how to select a topic and develop research questions, as well
as how to select, search for, find, and evaluate information sources.
Research 101 is intended to help improve how you research, so you can
tackle information problems anywhere. Research 101 is NOT a UW-specific
help page with links for finding information; and it is NOT intended to
replace meetings with your instructor or librarians.
- The Basics
- Info Cycles
Dartmouth Writing Program
Extensive textbook-quality advice about all aspects of writing in an academic environment.
- Writing the Academic Paper
- Writing in the Humanities
- Writing in the Social Sciences
- Writing in the Sciences
- Writing a Thesis
- Using Sources
- Special Writers
- Special Writing Tasks
The Writing Center
(University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Many instructional materials. However, there are limitations to these materials.
Assignments vary, and different instructors want different things from student writers.
Therefore, the advice here may or may not apply to your writing situation.
- Getting started, drafting, revising, and proofreading
- How to write literary analyses, lab reports, and more
- How to avoid common mistakes
- How to write more clearly and persuasively
- How to use references, avoid plagiarism, and more
- Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
- Citation Manuals and Guidelines
- Advice on Academic Writing
- The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing
- Strategies for Multilingual Students
- Recommended Writing Manuals and Guides