Part of The Alchemist's Lair Web Site
Maintained by Harry E. Pence, Professor of Chemistry, SUNY Oneonta, for the use of his students. Any opinions are totally coincidental and have no official endorsement, including the people who sign my pay checks. Comments and suggestions are welcome (pencehe@oneonta.edu).

Last Revised May 2, 2003


You may be required to write a term paper for Chem 214, Chem 315, or for the equivalent graduate level courses. Such a paper should be approximately 10 pages long, double-spaced, on a current subject related to the lecture material in the course you are taking. BE SURE TO OBTAIN APPROVAL BEFORE YOU INVEST TOO MUCH TIME IN A TOPIC. Since this is essentially a research paper and should summarize the current work on the topic, it should include primary references from the chemical literature. The paper should be in two parts of roughly equal length, (1) background and relevance of the topic, and (2) work currently being done in the area.

You will want to use referred, primary journals, such as Science, Nature, and Environmental Science and Technology. Our library receives current editions of all of these journals, but you may well also wish to use articles contained in journals and books that are not in our library. These must be acquired through interlibrary loan or through a road trip to another school. This takes time, so choose your topic early and don't wait until the last minute to look for references.

All formatting should be in accordance with the most recent edition of The ACS Style Guide: A Manual for Authors and Editors.


The paper will be equivalent to an exam for 100 points.


Approval of Preliminary Proposal

By the official midterm of the semester (See Official College Calendar), you must submit a single paragraph describing the topic you want to investigate, including a thesis sentence. Briefly explain why this topic is interesting and important. You need to give some idea of the scope of the intended paper so that if it is too narrow or too broad, it can be fixed before you invest too much effort.

Final Paper

The FINAL FORM of the paper MUST be turned in by the last regular class meeting of the semester (NOT including the final exam).


References should be formatted as end notes in the style of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Pay close attention to punctuation when formatting the citations. References may be indicated by superscripts, which occur outside of the final punctuation or by numbers in parentheses, which are placed inside the punctuation marks.. You must be consistent. It is customary to place the authors name at the location of the citation, with the reference number immediately following. If more than two authors are involved, you may use et al. For example, Jones (1) has reported that the moon is made of green cheese, but Smith al al (2) have questioned this conclusion. Number the references in order, starting from the beginning of the paper, including references to figures, tables, or other materials. If a reference is repeated, use the same number again. You can indicate runs of references with a dash like this. (2-5) Sometimes you will use references from all over your list. (1,3,5-6,10-12)


The order of items in the reference list will correspond to the order of citation in the body of the text.

Journal Articles: author's last name, initial, initial.; author's last name, initial. initial. Journal title in italics, volume number in bold, year in italics, page.

Example: Cotton, F. A.; Dikarev, E. V.; Petrukhina, M. A. Inorg. Chem. 1998, 37, 6035-6043.

Books: author's last name, initial. initial.; author's last name, initial. initial. Title in italics, edition.; Publisher: City, date, inclusive pages.

Example: Cotton, F. A.; Walton, R. A. Multiple Bonds between Metal Atoms, 2nd ed.; Oxford University Press: New York, 1993, 25-35.

Books with editors: author's last name, initial. Initial; author's last name, initial. Initial Chapter Title. In book title in italics, edition number; editor 1, editor 2, etc. ; Series information (if applicable); Publisher: City, date; volume number, inclusive pages.

Electronic References (WWW pages, electronic data files, or databases): The author's name (if known), the full title of the work in quotation marks, (equivalent to title of the article) the title of the complete work if applicable in italics, (equivalent to title of the book), the full http address, and the date of visit or of last update in parentheses. Be extremely careful with the punctuation on the electronic addresses.

Example: Burka, Lauren P. "A Hypertext History of Multi-User Dimensions." MUD History. http://www.ccs.neu.edu/home/lpb/mudhistory.html (5 Dec. 1994). Be sure to include the date that you actually visited the site.

Be sure that every reference in your reference list is used, and also make sure that there are no references that are not listed in the reference list.

Other than electronic journals, no more than 20% of your references may be off the web. Web references may not be used unless they include both an author (or sponsoring society, organization, etc.) and the date visited. You must use at least three journal articles (i.e. primary sources). Books may also be used as references but are considered secondary references.

Remember that copying any more than three words in a row from any outside source without using quotation marks is plagiarism. Be sure that you paraphrase the information from the references. In general, use quotes sparingly Normally, scientific writers only use word-for-word quotes when they wish to use another author's specific opinion. If you are planning to use the exact words of the author, you should introduce the quotation with a phrase (called a "signal phrase") that includes the authorŐs last name. Don't just insert a quotation unless you explain why it is there. The notation to show the reference is a number in parentheses.

For example: Nigel Bunce states that, "Hydrogen is a very minor component of the atmosphere (0.5 ppmv)."(1)

Unless you need to convey the exact opinion of an author, it is much better to paraphrase rather than to quote extensively. For example, the quote in the sentence above would be much better if written, according to Nigel Bunce, hydrogen is not an important atmospheric component. (1) If you have paraphrased from more than one reference in a single paragraph or a single sentence, use the various reference numbers after the material you have paraphrased, in numerical order. (1,4,5) Remember that even if you paraphrase, the source of the information must be included.


Tables, figures, and illustrations can add greatly to a paper, but they should not be used in excess. Each time you use a non-text element, make sure that it makes a significant contribution to the material being presented. Each non-text element must have a figure or table number, and a title as well as a reference citation. Remember that the title goes above for a table and below for a figure.


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