Advertising a new course in Geoscience: 

Geology and Geophysics 875

Advanced Topics in Geology

 Scientific Method: Theory and Practice

Need for the course:

Scientists must be able to write well. To learn to write well, graduate students need to practice writing in their course work, before tackling a thesis or a journal article. Peer review is one pedagogic mechanism that has shown success in teaching scientific reasoning and writing [Iyengar et al., 2008; Jenkins et al., 2008].

Organizing Instructor:

Kurt Feigl, Assoc. Prof.

Participating Instructors (having agreed in principle):

Profs. DeMets, Tobin, Roden, Xu(?), Singer, Goodwin, Anderson



I believe that writing is not hard. Thinking is hard. In this course, we will learn to write well by practicing our thinking. To do so, we will read each document in two versions: a preliminary version as it was submitted to a journal (or funding agency), and as a final version, as it was published in the peer-reviewed journal (or (hopefully) funded by the agency). Students will write reviews and share them with colleagues in advance of class meeting.

How will students be evaluated?


•    Before first class meeting: Participating instructors provide preliminary (submitted manuscripts or draft proposals) to organizing instructor (Feigl). Organizing instructor schedules one participating instructor per week. Schedule includes titles of manuscripts. One discussion forum per manuscript established on Learn@UW.

•    During the first three class meetings, the organizing instructor introduces the peer review process without any presentations.

•    At third class meeting: Students choose which five (5) manuscripts they will review.

•    At least (2) weeks before presentation: PDF file of manuscript uploaded to Learn@UW.

•    At least 24 hours before presentation: students who have chosen to review the manuscript post their reviews to corresponding discussion forum on Learn@UW.

•    24 hours before presentation: Actual reviews from journal or NSF reviewers posted on Learn@UW. Student reviews submitted after this date will not count toward the five required reviews. Final, published version of the paper or second submitted version (successful?) version of proposal available on Learn@UW. Students read all reviews as well as final version. Participating instructor for the week grades students’ reviews for writing and thinking and posts grades and comments to Learn@UW. (The comments can be of three types: discussion, visible to the student and faculty only, and visible to faculty only.

•    During presentation: participating instructor for the week leads discussion, drawing on reviews, and explaining how the manuscript was improved by the review process. Participating instructor encourages students to criticize the manuscript and paper without attacking the author. Participating instructor returns graded reviews to students.

•    Less than 24 hours after presentation: participating instructor posts grades for participation in class, awarding points for constructive and objective criticism, subtracting points for distracting or subjective comments. Default grade is no net change.

List of participating instructors having committed to posting 2 version of a manuscript and grading reviews

2008-Sep-03    Kurt Feigl
2008-Sep-10    Kurt Feigl
2008-Sep-17    Kurt Feigl
2008-Sep-24    Chuck Demets
2008-Oct-01    Eric Roden
2008-Oct-08    no class meeting
2008-Oct-15    Harold Tobin
2008-Oct-22    Brad Singer
2008-Nov-12    Alan Carroll
2008-Nov-26    no class meeting

List of Topics

Click Here for PDF file of current list of topics