Scientific Journal Article

Description and Deliverables: You’ll use the CSUS library database to find a geography-focused academic journal article, and answer questions about that article. A walkthrough on how to ensure the article you find is a valid source for the assignment is below, and the following page has the questions you are required to answer. Each question has it’s point value listed in parenthesis, so you know the grading rubric. An additional five points will be used to assess quality of writing (grammar, formatting, etc.). You will need to upload a PDF of your answers to Canvas by 11:59pm on the last day of the semester. Early submission is strongly recommended.

The topic of the journal article you choose should be related to physical geography, though it might be only tangentially related to the specific labs we are doing this summer. For example, although we are doing a lab on weather maps, we might not cover the extreme events (hurricanes, tornados, etc) that were discussed in detail in lecture. Some topics from your lecture and textbook aren’t covered at all in this limited-time lab, like climate change, would also be reasonable to investigate. If you are unsure about what topic to look into, or if you are unsure if your chosen topic is acceptable, please get in touch!

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How to find academic articles in the CSUS library database:

Go to library.csus.edu, and select the database link (shown at right)
Select the EBSCOHost database (shown at right, second photo)
You should be asked to log-in after selecting the EBSCO link.
You will now be on the Advanced Search page. At the top, you will enter your search terms. I recommend using a general topic (“climate change”, or “hurricanes”) and “Geography” as your second search term. Before you hit search, make sure you have selected the correct advanced options (see the next step!).

The key is to ensure your advanced options are selected to only return academic journal sources. Check that these are selected every time you go to this page. You want access to full text, academic research articles in languages you speak. Be sure these are selected!!

Now you can search. When the results pop up, on the left hand side you should see your limiters (right hand image) and you can select any article with the academic journal symbol (left hand image). If those limiters are not shown, you can add them, or go back and redo your search.
In this example, I searched “invasive species” as my first term, “climate change” as my second, and “geography” as my third. Using quotes denotes that I want the whole phrase, not just parts of it. Below, you can see an example of a search result. The highlighted portions show where you can find the citation information, including authors, journal title, number of pages, and date published. You can also see where you’d click to see the full article either as a webpage, or by downloading a PDF.

Finally, if you click the title of the article, you’ll be brought to a page (bottom image at left) that will create a bibliographic citation for you. Any of these formats are acceptable for question one, on the next page!!

For this assignment, use the directions above to find an academic research article related to physical geography. Use that article to answer the questions below. Remember, in addition to the points per question listed, there are an additional five points used to assess the quality of the work.

(5 points) Provide a bibliographic citation (APA, Chicago, etc.) for the article you’ve chosen. Any format you are comfortable with is allowed. It should include the authors, article title, date, and journal in addition to any other citation information your formatting choice requires. Do not include a link in your citation.
(5 points) Read the abstract of the article. This is a short (usually no more than 500 words) description of the researchers’ goals and findings. They might describe the goal as a research aim, or even frame it as a question. Ultimately, it is the question they seek to answer in the article. In your own words, describe the goal of the research.
(15 points) The introduction of a scientific article is an opportunity for the authors to frame their research in the context of other scientific studies, as well as the broader importance the study might have for society. It is also a chance for them to elaborate on their study aims/goals and research questions. After reading the introduction of the article, answer the following questions in your own words. You can answer in a single large paragraph or answer each question individually. Be sure to thoroughly address each question.
Why is this research important for other scientific researchers? If they do not specify, based on your reading of the introduction, what value do you think this research holds for the scientific community?
Why is this research important for the public? If they do not specify, based on your reading of the introduction, what value do you think this research holds for the public?
Did the authors expand on their research goals/questions from what you read in the abstract? If so, explain what further details they gave regarding the goal of this research. If not, do you feel the introduction and abstract adequately explains the question this research is trying to answer?
(5 points) While the methods and data section of a paper are important to understand how researchers answered the question, it is often the hardest section to understand if you are coming from a different background. For those in the field, the methods and data are crucial for understanding if the conclusions of an article are sound. It is also a useful way of learning what you need to know if you’d like to pursue this research further, either for your own academic interest or for a career. Skim the methods and data section, and answer the following questions in your own word (either in a single paragraph, or in several bulleted sentences).
What data were the researchers analyzing? Did they gather the data themselves using fieldwork, or did they get the data from elsewhere?
What variables did they analyze?
What methods did they use to analyze the data?
Do the researchers list any software or programs used to analyze the data?

Questions continue on next page

(10 points) In the final parts of the paper, the authors will discuss their findings and how they relate to their research goals. Sometimes, they will reiterate the importance of this research, with similar information as you read in the introduction. Sometimes this is simply one section of the paper titled “Discussion”, but sometimes there are two sections, a “Discussion” and a “Conclusion”. Read the discussion and conclusion of your paper (whichever it might have, or both), and answer the following questions in your own words. You may answer in a single paragraph, or with a few sentences for each bullet points.
What are the ultimate findings of the research? How do the variables analyzed relate to one another?
How do the findings compare with the information provided in the introduction? Do they agree with, expand upon, or disagree with the scientific background the authors provided?
Do the authors lay out potential future research questions or projects? If not, can you think of other questions you might ask given the findings in this article?
(5 points) Reflect on the process of reading this article. Was it easy to find? Was it easy to understand? Did you have to look up terms or phrases? Do you think you could pursue a project like the one you just read about? Why or why not? What sort of training would you need to do to write a similar article? If you are not a geographer or physical scientist, how does this article compare to research in your own field? You do not need to answer every one of these questions – they are just some ideas you might comment on. You could also write about something not covered in these questions. Your reflection should be a lengthy paragraph, at least 5-7 sentences, but you can write more if you like.

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