Science Paper Writing & Thinking Survival Guide

Sample Topic:  How Do Climate Changes Affect Crops?
What are the changes, and what impact do they have?

I recently read an article that described crop conditions in Africa, and I was shocked.  I had not realized that recent floods in Mozambique, desertification in the Sudan, drought in Malawi, and cold winters had created so many crop failures, and the later, famine.  Is there any way to track the changes?  What are the social, health, economic development consequences?

The Topic:
Climate and agriculture -- impact on land, crops, people, and trade

Step 1: Find 2 primary references
These are articles that explain the issues and provide background, contexts, and overviews.  I can find these using the library's FirstSearch program.

Step 2:  Three Main Aspects of the Issue
A) Climate Change -- General Issues
Find two articles.  Make bullet list of 5 ways each relates to the main topic under study.

B) What are the climate changes that impact agriculture, and how does it happen?
Find two articles.  Make bullet list of 5 ways each relates to the main topic under study.

C) Climate change, crop failure -- social, economic, and health aspects
Find two articles.  Make bullet list of 5 ways each relates to the main topic under study.

Step 3:  Your Discussion on the Topic
After reading and researching this topic, what emerges as the primary issues and problems?  Why?  How do you know? 

Step 4:  Case Studies that Illustrate Key Points
The topic is narrowed down and key points are highlighted.  Now case studies (or research) can be presented to help one's understanding of the topic.

Step 5:  Conclusions and Findings
Here is where the conclusions, findings, and connections are presented. 

graphics & survival guide © 2003 by susan smith nash, ph.d.