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Writing Milestone #1: Gathering and Citing Sources

Written Paper Exercise (100 points total)

Writing Milestone #1: Gathering and Citing Sources (10 points)


Milestone #1 involves selecting a topic and finding at least 10 sources on that topic to support your paper.  The following requirements and steps will guide you in selecting your sources.

  1. Select a topic and be sure to state what it is– almost anything that has to do with physical geography (natural hazards/disasters, water resources, climate change, etc.) is fine
    1. One example is introducing earthquakes in general, then using the rest of your paper to discuss a specific earthquake in more detail
    2. Another example is comparing and contrasting two phenomena, such as two hurricanes, after providing some background information on hurricanes in general
    3. Your textbook’s table of contents is a good place to look for topics
  2. Find your sources – all sources must relate to your topic and contain useful information
    1. Your sources MUST meet the following criteria
      1. You must have at least 10 sources (you may have more)
      2. At least 4 must be from peer-reviewed scientific literature
  • Only 2 may be from newspaper articles (online or print)
  1. The rest should be from other reliable sources (educational, government, etc.), or additional peer-reviewed sources
  2. All sources must be credible (none from opinion pages, etc.)
  3. You can use your textbook as a source, but it does not count toward the 10
  • Ask me if you are unsure whether or not a source meets the requirements
  1. Good places to look for sources include:
    1. Google Scholar (
      1. Almost all peer-reviewed sources; just search for your topic
    2. Zahnow Library Databases )
      1. Not all peer-reviewed, but all reliable sources
      2. JSTOR, Science Direct, SpringerLink under “Geography” are good
      3. Scott Mellendorf (, 989-964-7052) is an excellent librarian who is awesome at helping students – be sure to give him a call if you need assistance with anything
  • Use Interlibrary Loan to get any articles that you cannot see or access through the databases or Google Scholar (don’t ever pay for articles)
  1. Place your sources into an alphabetical, formatted list with your topic listed at the top
    1. Use 1″ margins, 12 point Times New Roman font, hanging indent, single spacing
    2. Be sure format based on the “Sample_Paper_&_References” documenton Canvas
    3. Pay attention to detail when listing your sources and recheck them several times before turning them in (submitto Written Paper Milestone #1assignment on Canvas)


Writing Milestone #2: Making an Outline (15 points)

For the second milestone, you will need to read your articles and create an outline from which you will eventually write your paper.  This will help you with one of the hardest parts of writing a paper – the organization.  To do this, I would set aside a section at the beginning and at the end of your outline for the introduction and conclusion.  Between these two sections, I would devote a section or two to each of the main topics you have identified from your sources.  Be sure that your topics (the sections of your outline) follow in a logical order.  For example, don’t describe what hurricanes are and how they form in the middle of your paper after having talked about a specific hurricane for several paragraphs.  That is, try to keep the basic information toward the beginning.  Pay close attention to the following steps and requirements when constructing your outline.

  1. Thoroughly read each article you have chosen and identify its main points. These will serve as the topics in your outline (and therefore the paragraphs in your paper)
    1. You may want to start with the governmental/educational/news sources and create a framework for your outline from these “easier-to-understand” sources
    2. Because parts of the peer-reviewed sources will be harder to fully understand, I don’t expect you to use every piece of information in them. However, they will provide you with pieces of information to “fill in” parts of your outline
  2. You are required to keep track of where the information in your outline came from and cite it. Believe me, it is much easier to do this now than trying to remember where it came from later when you are writing your paper.
    1. Look at the “Sample_Paper_&_References” document for correct in-text citations
  3. Your final paper needs to be a synthesis of your 10 sources, so you must organize your outline around main topics, not around each source
  4. Use 1″ margins, 12 point Times New Roman font, single spacing
  5. You must revise your reference list based on my comments and include the revisedreference list at the end of this outline (in the same document)
  6. Your outline must be at least 3 pages single-spaced. If it is shorter than this, you will not have enough information to write a 5-page paper.  This length does not count the reference list.  Remember, the more information you gather and organize now, the easier it will be to write your paper later.
  7. Look at the two examples of good outlines on Canvas and model your outline after those
  8. Submit the finished product to the Written Paper Milestone #2 assignment on Canvas





Writing Milestone #3: Draft Version of the Paper (75 points)

Now, you will take the information in your outline and write your paper.You have already done much of the hard work, like searching through your sources and organizing your information, so this step should go smoothly.  As you write, be sure to meet the requirements listed below.

  1. From the outline, write a 5-page, double-spaced paper that synthesizes the information from all of your sources
    1. DO NOT copy and paste anything from the article
    2. EverythingMUST bein your own wordseven if you cite it (no quoted material)
    3. Follow the formatting rules from the “Sample_Paper_&_References” handout and the “Writing_Rubric”
      1. Times New Roman 12pt font, 1” margins, double spacing
      2. The reference list should still be single-spaced
    4. Do not use I, we, our, etc. in your paper – take yourself out of it – just state the facts from your sources and cite them
    5. Do not use “according to…” in your paper – just paraphrase what they said and cite it
  2. Be sure to use in-text citations for all information that is not your own. Even if it is in your own words, you still must cite all ideas, statistics, etc. that are not your own
  3. Include a table or figure in your paper that helps to make your point (required)
    1. For example, a table that shows the world’s deadliest earthquakes
    2. The table or figure must be your own, no copying and pasting
    3. Refer to the table or figure in the text, and create a caption for it
    4. If you table takes up no more than ½ page, it will count toward your 5-page requirement; if it is larger, you must write more than 5 pages to make up for it
  4. To complete this milestone, do all of the following by the due date:
    1. Submit to (pay attention to match % and fix if necessary)
      1. Course ID is 18203009and Password is 101_Summer18
      2. References, lists within the text, etc.that match don’t matter
  • When submitting, be sure to actually attach and upload your document – don’t simply copy and paste it in, which will change the formatting and cost you points (You can access through the “Written_Paper_Milestone_#3” assignment or at

Follow all formatting directions in these instructions, and be sure you have looked at the Sample_Paper_&_References,Writing_Guide, and Writing_Rubric documents on Canvas.

Hint: Even though this is the first version of this paper, be sure that it is completeand in final formbefore you turn it in.  Papers that are incomplete or do not show enough effort will not be given many points.  Besides, more effort now means less work when you revise the paper later.

Writing Milestone #4: Revised Final Version (Optional)

For the final step, you will use my suggestions (and will be expected to look for improvements on your own) to make your paper better.  While revising, be sure to thoroughly look through every sentence of your paper.  Paying attention to detail is the key to editing a paper.  Use the following list as a guide while revising.  If you are satisfied with your grade from Milestone #3, then you don’t have to turn in a revised version of the paper.

  1. Be sure you have followed all formatting instructions and made any formatting changes I have suggested
    1. You will be/have been emailed a copy of your paper with my changes marked with the “track changes” feature in MS Word and some comments
  2. I have not marked everything that needs attention in your paper
    1. Be sure to change things on your own that I may not have marked
    2. Look for things similar to what I have marked in the rest of the paper
    3. I will be looking to see that you did this when I grade the final version
  3. Do not make “lazy” changes to the paper
    1. For example, if I say that you should change a word, be sure that once you change that word, the sentence still makes sense and sounds good
  4. Be sure that your paper flows from idea to idea, and that sentences do not seem to “come out of nowhere”
  5. Be sure that all information that is not your own is cited appropriately
  6. Turn your paper in to by midnight on the due date
    1. Course ID is 18203009and Password is 101_Summer18
    2. You can access through the “Writing Milestone #4” assignment on Canvas or at
  7. Please note: I can tell how much work you did when revising your paper. If you put very little time and effort into this, then your grade will not improve.  You must make significant improvements in your paper in order to improve your grade.

Above all else, be sure that your paper matches the requirements on the “Writing_Rubric.”  Always ask me if you have any questions – don’t just guess.  I’m happy to help.


Last Updated on March 21, 2019

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