Term Paper

This page has details about the required paper.


Your paper is an important part of ENVE 651. The topic of the paper is "use of a risk assessment." You should not actually do a risk assessment, but rather describe, analyze, and comment on a risk assessment done by others. The focus of this course is the effect of chemicals in the environment on humans, but a paper on ecological risk assessment, a food and drug risk assessment, or an assessment of a workplace health hazard is also acceptable. Risks from ionizing radiation found in the environment are also acceptable. Public involvement or controversy regarding a risk assessment might make an interesting paper, but be sure that there is enough material so you can focus on some technical issues about the risk assessment.

18 February. Topic due.
4 March. An outline of your paper, preliminary results of literature search, and questions about the topic to the instructor.
22 April . Paper due.
29 April. Review of other students' papers due.

Attached is a grading plan I use. A copy of your paper without your name will be reviewed by at least two other student's (as you will review two other students' papers). In the past I have weighted my grade times two and averaged it with the student reviewers' grades.

Since you are writing about the use of a risk assessment, you do not need a copy of the actual assessment. It may help, but these are often bulky documents. Somehow you need to find an assessment and then learn how it came about - why was it done - what the conclusions (risk characterization) were, and what was done with the assessment. Public input into the assessment and publicity are interesting. You don't need to emphasize the final risk management decisions, but these are often important. Was the assessment done according to the 1983 NAS outline? Was it done in increments? How was data gathered? Pathways described? Who were the receptors? What kind of report was done? And so on.

For references you should use at least one peer-reviewed article and one compendium in addition to your text. Of course all the material you reference must help you elucidate your topic. It is very important to reference the sources of your information. The ASCE has guides to referencing material. A good guide to citing Web sources is this site: http://www.studygs.net/citation/

Paper Length and Style
Some parameters: The length should be "just long enough." I never count pages, but the typical paper will be about 10 pages of text, not counting figures. Please use 12-point font and double space. You do not have to use any particular style, as long at it clear, but here is a good standard format from the ASCE, Journal Articles, Submitting a Journal Article, at http://ascelibrary.org/doi/pdf/10.1061/9780784479018.ch05.

Students often miss the most important point about proper references or rather, properly acknowledging the source of material. They perceive the issue as one of nitpicking regarding style. Using material someone else has written without properly acknowledgment is both cheating and stealing. It is often bad writing too. In the old days, when everything had to be reentered by typing, there was not much incentive to leave material exactly as it had been written. Students and other authors can now electronically cut and paste large blocks of material. But this material often does fit into the surrounding text. The correct way to write a paper is to enter all the material into your brain, which somehow integrates the material in your internal data banks. When you put the process in reverse and write, the material is naturally integrated and has logical flow. In scientific and technical writing, each fact that is presented must be referenced to the published research findings of others or the findings of your research that you are reporting. So having written your report, you now go back and cite each fact. Sometimes an exact quotation of one or several paragraphs is necessary. You can electronically cut and paste figures and tables, as long as you cite where you got them.

In student papers, use of copyrighted material is not a big issue, since your paper is only distributed to me and possibly other students. Quoting excerpts of copyrighted works is not against the law, in any case. Copying pictures and graphs can be copyright infringement, if you publish them or use them for gain. Teachers enjoy an exemption from the copyright laws, up to a point, for materials used in class. Once a teacher puts something on the web, it is being published outside the classroom, and the teacher might be infringing a copyright.

Library submodule explains how to search for these articles and how to get them without leaving your computer.

Module 4 Index

ENVE 651 Homepage.