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Compare-Contrast Research Position Paper Fall 2005

Objective: Compare or contrast scenery in a movie with real locations,
convincing the reader that the movie is or is not accurate based on your

Length: 2 - 4 pages, double-spaced, 12 point font;
The title page and references page do not count toward the 1 - 4

Format: Formal, Scientific English; GSA format citations and references.

Watching the Video

    1. View video: pick a video from the approved list and view it. Just view it for your
    own enjoyment the first time!

    2. View the video again, observe, and take notes: Note where the movie is said to
    take place, then write down any observations that you could research to see if
    the location you see is accurate. Describe the appearances of the land,
    topography, vegetation, animals, specific landmarks, season, climate, weather,
    etc., as long as they are Earth Science related.

Researching the Paper

    1. Research and Compare: find photos and descriptions of the actual locations
    where the scenes in your movie are supposed to take place. Then compare the
    movie scenes to the real locations, and decide how closely they match.

    2. Point of View: decide whether you want your paper to convince the reader
    that the movie is accurate or that it is not accurate. It is typical of movies to
    contain both scenes that look accurate and those that do not: you must
    choose a position: accurate or not accurate.

    3. Choose the scenes that support your point of view that you can discuss the
    most effectively, with the most convincing evidence.

Writing the Paper

    1. Title page: has the title of your video, your name, and the date. Other
    information is optional. Pictures and decorative typefaces are great.

    2. First Page: NO title on the first page; the title, date, class, etc. only appears
    on the title page. If you want your name on every page, put it in a footer.

    3. Writing style: Use third person and passive voice, which means not using
    I, you, we, etc. No quotes; instead, paraphrase all information from
    reference sources. Paraphrased information is to be referenced. The
    Formal Scientific English style is described on subsequent pages.

    4. Introduction: State whether the movie scenes looked like the place
    named in the movie or not. Then summarize the points you are going to
    discuss, in the order they will appear in the paper. Do not state opinions
    about the movie, or review the movie. The introduction is basically a
    summary of your paper. It is usually easier to write the intro after finishing
    the body.

    5. Body: in each paragraph, describe the appropriate material from a movie
    scene, then describe your researched information; explain how it is like, or
    not like, the movie scene.

      Each scene description together with the information on
      the researched location should be in a separate paragraph.

    6. Conclusion: this is simply a re-statement of your main points. Do not make
    additional comments, put in extra information, or make projections for the
    future. The conclusion is another summary of your paper.

      Do not write “In conclusion” at the beginning of the conclusion, or
      anywhere in the paper!

    7. Metric: convert all units to metric, making sure to retain significant figures.

    8. Citations: You must cite where you obtained the information used in your
    paper. Instead of footnotes, use parentheses with the author’s last name
    and year in the body of the paper. No page numbers are needed.

    9. References: make a separate page for references; use GSA style,
    alphabetize and use a hanging indent of about 5 spaces; see examples.

    10. Going to a tutor is recommended. The tutors at the writing center can
    check grammar and style, but make sure they have seen the assignment
    sheet. The Earth Science tutor or your SI can check facts about the
    science, logic, and style, and help with references.

    11. Rewrite: make any corrections the tutor or SI suggested. Check for
    metric, citation format, reference format, confirm your facts are correct and
    fit the observations, and any tables or pictures are labeled and cited. Use
    the checklist at the end of this handout.

Finishing the Paper

    1. Type the paper and title page. Use standard, readable fonts in 12 point size for
    the paper and reference page; the title page can be any size or style of print.

    2. Check for typos and words missed by the spell checker and correct them.

    3. If you put your name on all pages, use a footer, i.e. put your name at the
    bottom of the page, not the top.

    4. Assemble the finished paper with the title page first, the paper, and then the
    reference page. Double check this!

    5. Fasten the paper securely in a paper folder, not a three-ring binder. Be sure
    that the paper is securely held inside the folder. Make sure that the margins of
    your paper are large enough that the typed paper is not cropped by the
    folder. Change margins if necessary.

    6. Submit the paper on or before the due date. You will have until 4 PM so don’t
    skip class to finish typing the paper. You might try to get it finished a day or so
    before in case your printer acts up.

Some important instructions for writing the paper:

    • If you use a picture or table, make sure to label it “Figure 1” or “Table 1,”
    include a caption and a citation at the bottom of the figure/table, and put
    “See Figure 1” in your paper at the appropriate place. Place your figure
    or table within the text of the paper. These are optional.

    Metric: Always use units with numbers and change any units into the metric
    equivalent. There is a metric unit for everything except time. For example,
    change “Cones of the Ponderosa Pine are about 3-6 inches long.” to “Cones
    of the Ponderosa Pine are about 7-15 centimeters long.”

    Parentheses should only be used for citations or to indicate an abbreviation
    that may be used later in the paper. Do not use parentheses instead of
    commas or instead of a new sentence.

    Do not allow your word processor to hyphenate words at the end of a line.
    Also do not allow the word processor to divide words that are supposed to be
    hyphenated; use a hard hyphen. In Word, that is a control, shift, hyphen key.

    Do not put the title on the first sheet of the body of the paper; it goes only on
    the cover page.

    • Use a footer instead of a header if you put your name on all pages. If the
    page won’t print, change your print margins so that it does.

    Follow instructions as outlined in this handout. If in doubt about
    anything, contact the instructor or tutor/SI for the class.

    Avoid pink paper or folders. Judy hates pink, but likes yellow, cats and bats.

Formal, Scientific English Style

    1. Passive voice, third person is used;
    2. No quotes! Paraphrase; put all information in your own words
    3. No opinions: just the facts, ma’am or sir.
    4. No slang or contractions:
    5. Use words with specific meanings: 6. Metric Only: convert inches to centimeters, feet to meters, miles to
    kilometers, Fahrenheit to Celsius, gallons to liters, etc. Weight is usually
    expressed in kilograms, but pounds of force would be expressed in
    Newtons. Ask Judy or another science instructor if you are unsure of the
    units to use.
    7. Use correct significant figures when converting terms to metric. When
    converting 200 miles to kilometers, the calculator will read 321.8688, but the
    original measurement in miles only had one significant figure, the 2, so the
    final conversion to metric is actually 300 km.


You must cite where you obtain the information used in the body of the paper
by putting the author’s last name and year in parentheses, separated by a
comma. There are no page numbers in the citation.

    • For example: Long Valley Caldera comprises an oval depression
    measured at 15 by 30 km (Long Valley Web Team, 2005).

    • You can also use the author in the sentence. For example: Kerr (1997)
    reported that picrites contain rounded olivine and are not the same as the komatiites.

    All authors of a cited work must be listed by last names, separated by
    commas. For example: There is a marked increase in seismic wave
    velocity at the Moho (Skinner, Porter, and Botkin, 2000).

    • If more than one source is responsible for the information, separate
    each source by a semicolon. For example: Complex volcanoes are
    frequently called by the older name, stratovolcanos (Lowman, 2005;
    Skinner, Porter, and Park, 2004).

Format for References


    general: examples:


    general: examples:
      Long Valley Web Team, 2005, Long Valley Observatory:
        (July 2005).
      Kerr, A. C., 1997, What is the Difference between a Komatiite and a Picrite?: (July 2005).

Periodical (magazine or newspaper):

    general: examples:
      Hartmann, W. K., 2000, Red Planet Renaissance: Astronomy, vol. 28, no. 7,
        p. 36 41.
      Siegert, M. J., Dowdeswell, J. A., Svendsen, J. I., and Elverhoi, A., 2002, The
        Eurasian Arctic During the Last Ice Age: American Scientist, vol. 90, no. 1,
          p. 32-39.

Person or Lecture:

    general: examples:
      Koivula, J., 2002, Internal World of Gemstones lecture: Senior Gemologist,
        Gemological Institute of America.
      Lowman, J. A., 2005, Earth Science (ESC 1) lecture: Instructor, Chaffey College.
      Praeman, R., 2004, Personal communication: Lieutenant, Tallville Fire Dept.

Thinking Exercise Checklist Fall 2005

    Title page with name, title of paper, date, and other optional information
    No title on first page of paper; title on title page only
    Page numbers/name if used are at the bottom of the page, not at top
    Intro: topic sentence clearly states the point of view (movie either does look
    like the location named in the movie or does not)
    Intro: summary of each point made in the following paragraphs, in same order as in the body of the paper
    Each paragraph: compare/contrast scene in movie with research that supports the point of view (movie does or does not match the stated location)
    Third person and passive voice used throughout, i.e. no use of I, you, we, etc.
    No opinions or comments on the movie or the research
    No quotes: paraphrase all information
    Concise and clear style, no redundancy
    Correct sentence structure, spelling, paragraph structure, and capitalization:
    Earth is capitalized because it is a proper name.
    All units are converted to metric and have correct significant figures
    No parentheses used except for citations
    Citations: last name & year in parentheses, separated by comma
    Conclusion: summary of topics covered in paper
    Conclusion: no new material, no comments, no opinions
    Conclusion: do not write “In conclusion”
    References cited: on separate page at end of paper, GSA format as
    described in handout
    References cited: alphabetized, with hanging indent of about 5 spaces

Movie List: Spring 2007

    • Doc Holiwood

    • Gung Ho

    • Holliwood Knights

    • Lost Horizon

    • North to Alaska

    • Sand Pebbles - a long movie


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