MLAP 31500

Natural Sciences Elective


Order and Chaos in the Natural World


Spring Quarter 2014


Writing Assignment II

Due June 10, 2014


Investigate a subject related to the content of this course and write a paper on the results of your investigation.  The subject might be a related field of inquiry, a further inquiry into a subject described in Does God Play Dice? The New Mathematics of Chaos, in The Essence of Chaos, or in Chaos: Making a New Science, a relevant discovery, or some other related matter.  The paper should be relatively brief; a length of the order of 1500-2500 words would be a reasonable target.  (That would be about 3-5 pages, single-spaced, in a 12 pt Times font.)  The paper and the underlying investigation should have a definite goal that can be formulated in terms of a well-defined question or issue.  The paper should work toward the chosen goal with a suitable analysis or inquiry.  The goal itself is the answer or conclusion that results.  The paper should make clear and explicit the connection of the subject investigated to the subjects of the course.  The paper should include a bibliography of the publications on which it is based and a summary of any other resources that are used.


Papers will be evaluated with respect to the following five equally weighted categories.


FORMULATION OF THE TOPIC.  The paper should address a well-defined issue, question, or problem.


CONNECTION TO THE COURSE.  The topic should have a reasonable connection to some aspect of the material covered in the course.


RESEARCH.  The paper should be based on some line of investigation or inquiry beyond what is covered in the course.  This would be reflected in the bibliography.


ANALYSIS.  The paper should contain some analysis of the issue, question, or problem considered.


FORMULATION OF CONCLUSIONS.  The paper should reach definite conclusions or closure of another appropriate kind.


Writers are urged to observe the following guidelines.


Be technically precise in applications of scientific nomenclature, particularly the nomenclature of chaos.  Avoid the use of metaphors in connection with chaos.


Organize the paper around the five categories on which it will be evaluated.  The paper should progress from the formulation of the central issue to the resolution of that issue.


Write for an informed lay person.  Nomenclature that has become familiar through our reading of Stewart, Lorenz, and Gleick may be used without definitions or explanations.  On the other hand, technical terms that would be unfamiliar by that standard should be defined or explained.


In general, the work for this paper would not be an original piece of scientific research.  The paper is a review of a subject or of an aspect of the subject.  Avoid a broad, superficial review of the chosen subject.  It is better to concentrate on a substantial treatment of particular aspects.


Experience shows that the subjects of the most successful papers are generally chosen from the natural sciences, the more systematic of the social sciences and fields of application of those disciplines. 


Writers are expected to observe accepted academic standards for scholarly writing.


The text of a paper should be the writer’s own work.


A typical paper will include reviews, summaries, or descriptions of work described in the writings of other authors.  The sources of such material should be properly identified and referenced in the body of the paper and listed in the bibliography.  Writers may use any standard convention for referencing sources in the text and for listing references in the bibliography.  Listings in the bibliography should, of course, contain enough information to enable the reader to identify and locate the source.


It is appropriate to quote text from the writings of other authors where direct quotations are required for the sake of clarity and precision.  Direct quotes should be brief, and the use of direct quotes should be infrequent.  Quoted text should be set off with quotation marks.   The sources of quoted text should be properly identified and referenced in the body of the paper and included in the bibliography.  Here too, any standard convention and format for the presentation of quoted material may be used.


Sources on the Web should be identified and referenced in the body of the paper and listed in the bibliography as if they were publications.  Any standard bibliographical convention for sources on the Web may be used.  In any case, each listing should include authors, a date, a title, and a URL.






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