Help/Advice for a paper.

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by AP_piano295, Apr 20, 2012.

  1. AP_piano295 macrumors 65816

    Mar 9, 2005
    Paging practicing scientists and or grad students.

    I'm working on a term paper right now that's a bit different than anything I've ever done. I've written a solid number of "regular" scientific papers but this paper for a Bio Geography class is kind of odd because I won't be doing any original research.

    The papers I've written in the past have always centered around experiment(s)/studies I've worked on in labs or the field.

    TL;DR - I'm writing a scientific paper without any original work in it

    I'm just wondering if anyone has written a paper like this and if they have some tips or better a few examples for me to work off. I haven't really been able to find many papers like this (all published papers have at least some original analysis).

    My best description for what I'm supposed to write is a summary of several papers linking all of their findings to explain a single event (in this case changes/declines in arctic tern (Sterna paradisea) in the N. Sea).
  2. acidfast7 macrumors 65816


    Nov 22, 2008
  3. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    This sounds like a grade school assignment.

    Paragraph 1: Thesis statement + introductory filler.

    Paragraphs 2 - n: Supporting evidence for your thesis, properly referenced.

    Paragraph (n+1): Conclusion + concluding fluff.

    Who is the audience for this "paper" ?
  4. AP_piano295, Apr 21, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2012

    AP_piano295 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mar 9, 2005
    The audience is the professor (just the professor).

    It's a bit on the unusual side. Needs to be about 20 pages long 25-35 sources.

    In a sense you're right it just comes down to "here is this concept, here is the supporting data and research for this concept, so considering the data here is what should be considered in regards to this concept".

    The issue I'm having is that this needs to be done in terms of a normal scientific paper: ie*

    materials and methods

    I'm just feeling a bit thrown off by the materials and methods + results part of the concept. Because like I said no new research so materials and methods is just "what other people said" and results are just "their results".

    So far I've been writing it a bit like this:

    article, but it's not a paper, which is what the professor wants.

    People don't generally write scientific papers without doing at least some of their own analysis (even if it's on old data) so I'm a little baffled by what exactly I'm supposed to do with these sections.

    EDIT: One option I'm considering is doing at least a few statistical analysis of old data so that I will have at least a bit of original "research" in the paper.

    EDIT 2:

    Here's some more details to get across what I'm writing about and where some of my confusion is coming from.

    Arctic Terns are migratory abundant sea birds (somewhat similar to gulls), they lay eggs during spring in the N. hemisphere. They like many sea birds are experiencing severe hatching failures/chick survival rates.

    There are a number of possible reasons for this. Over fishing damages their food supply they can't find enough food they can't feed chicks, chicks die pretty strait forward. The thing is they don't generally rely on particularly desirable fish to survive (they eat mostly small "bait fish" sandeels are a particularly important. So if we can't attribute these declines to over fishing what are some other factors.

    So like so many other ecological questions now a-days we come to global warming/climate change. It's been observed and well documented that as surface temperature's change fish populations change, (in several ways) first they move generally N. they also move into deeper water. This is a real problem for many birds like terns because they aren't divers when their food fish move deeper they often have a much harder time getting enough food, again this means propagation failures. Fish populations also decrease because plankton/algae (base of the food chain) are often adversely affected by rising temperatures, in the N. Sea this isn't particularly supported so I won't go into it any more.

    Other things to consider which are basically linked to global warming are : Sea bird arrival dates + laying dates + hatching dates if these become asynchronous from peaks in food you see propagation failures. Also habitat destruction global warming causes sea level rise (about 1.3 meters in the N. Sea expected over the next 100 years also we see more frequent storms this leads to erosion and submersion of land mass particularly which may be important nesting ground.

    Alright so all of these things linked to warming are pretty conclusively detrimental to populations of seabirds (and terns though abundant have been shown to be particularly vulnerable). So now we need to predict how serious warming in the north sea is and how severe it will be and how much it will affect the ecosystem.

    To do this we look at things like the North Atlantic Oscillation and the Arctic Oscillation, pressure fluctuations which influence wind patterns. Turns out that these are almost certainly influenced by global warming thus emissions (this has been shown through modeling). Changes in these patterns make the N. west colder and the N. east (where the N. Sea is warmer). Positive NAO and AO (positive meaning air currents carry warm air to the N. east) mean greater warming in the N. sea.

    So in bullet form the paper is basically looking like:

    -Abstract : Climate is changing arctic terns in the N. Sea are experiencing very low rates of successful propagation.

    -Introduction :
    --This is an arctic tern here's why its vulnerable
    --Things are getting hot in the N. Sea
    --Here's why NOA + AO
    --This rise in temperature causing failures

    --I read papers which considered bird traits and quantified their vulnerability to certain changes in food (here is a type of data)
    --I read papers which considered how and why the NOA and AO are changing (data)
    --I read papers observing current warming and predicting future warming (data)
    --This is causing observed and predicted changes to fish populations migrations reductions etc (more data)
    --Causing observed and predicted changes in bird propagation success (data)

    --Here is the long list of specific data i collected which is the result of all of my reading

    --All of this data which I put in results is going to be bad for the birds in these ways.

    Once again the issue I'm having is that the materials and methods and results sections are really just kind of silly in this context. Scientific papers are just generally not written without something "new" and while I think what I'm writing is informative and "useful" in the sense that I bringing together a number of articles with varying topics to explain X biological event (breeding failure) the paper is still not a study in any way.
  5. fireshot91 macrumors 601


    Jul 31, 2008
    Northern VA
    Sounds like any old research paper to me.

    Make a thesis, collect sources that help exemplify your thesis, use them to show evidence for your thesis.
  6. mobilehaathi macrumors G3


    Aug 19, 2008
    The Anthropocene
    At first I thought you had to write a review article, but now I see you simply need to for a hypothesis and support it with the literature. It seems like you're on the right track.
  7. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    I think you are on the right track with the idea of combing and doing some statistical analysis from the old papers. Do you have access to SPSS?

    It would be nice if you could show some statistical significance from one data set to another one.

    My wife sometimes does similar stuff, but her work is public policy so the "methods and methods" doesn't apply. But "new" aspect comes from the combining of data.

  8. And macrumors 6502


    Feb 23, 2009
    92 ft above sea level, UK
    You seem to be writing a review paper, have a search for review papers to see how they have been structured. Also, ask the person who set the work if there are any guidelines for the structure.

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