The ability to critically evaluate original (scientific) literature and to summarise the information in a succinct manner is an important skill for any student. This course aims to practice this ability, requiring each student to write a term paper of scientific quality on a topic of relevance for research in the areas of biogeochemistry and pollutant dynamics.
The goal of the term paper is to train the student's ability to critically evaluate scientific literature and to summarise the findings concisely in a paper addressing a research question.
At the end of the course, students will be able to: - narrow down a research question. - identify relevant literature to address the research question. - concisely summarise and critically evaluate their findings. - formulate key outstanding questions.
Each student is expected to write a paper with a length of approximately 15-20 pages. The students can choose from a list of topics prepared by the tutors, but the final topic will be determined based on a balance of choice and availability. The students will be guided and advised by their tutors throughout the term.
The paper itself should contain the following elements: - Motivation and context of the given topic (25%) - Concise presentation and critical evaluation of the state of the science (50%) - Identification of open questions and perhaps opportunities for further research (25%)
In addition, the accurate use of citations, attribution of ideas, and the judicious use of figures, tables, equations and references are critical components of a successful paper. Specialised knowledge is not expected, nor required; neither is new research.
Guidelines and supplementary material are distributed on the Moodle platform.
Original scientific literature will be identified based on the chosen topic.
Prerequisites / Notice
Please enrol latest until the first week of the semester. Contact termpaper(at)env.ethz.ch if you don't yet have access to MyStudies.
The term paper course is primarily aimed at master students majoring in biogeochemistry & pollutant dynamics and ISTP students with a solid background in natural sciences and a strong interest in biogeochemistry & pollutant dynamics.
Each student submits a term paper that will be reviewed by one fellow student and one faculty. The submission of the term paper and a written review of another student's term paper are a condition for obtaining the credit points.
There is no final exam. The grade is assigned based on the quality of the term paper and the submitted review as well as on the presentation in the following term.
Results from the term paper will be presented to fellow students and involved faculty in the following semester ("Term Paper 2: Seminar").
Concepts and Theories
Techniques and Technologies
Self-direction and Self-management
Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)