Geodude’s tips for a better field report or paper and important guidelines  


Main requirements: The field report should be left-justified and in 12 point type. The paper must have headings—See number 5 below. Electronically-submitted papers can be single space, but hard copies handed in should have a line spacing of 1.5.  I strongly suggest you visit the Centralia College Writing Center or submit your paper to them online for a peer review and assistance. This is particularly important if you have not had English 101. See the section on Writing Resources for info on writing papers and avoiding plagiarism. I strongly recommend each paper include a map.

Important tips and suggestions:

  1. Avoid overusing “there” as an introductory pronoun, because context and important details can get murky and vague. Example: “There were dark rocks. There were columns. There were olivine crystals and basalt lava.” [Ugh, I think I’m going to fall asleep now…zzzz] Instead try to be more specific and concise! Ex. “The outcrop consisted mainly of columnar jointed olivine basalts” Basalt IS lava, so no need for redundancy either!
  2. Graphics or figures (photos, sketches, maps, diagrams, etc) can improve your grade, but must have informative captions too. See item 7 below.
  3. Details like latitude and longitude and times spent at field sites can go in a table, otherwise they clutter the report.
  4. Learn to be concise in writing—continued work on writing style, grammar, punctuation, and your “voice” is very important; try the Centralia College Writing Center for help: Kemp 105.
  5. Use separate headers for Introduction, each field stop, discussion, summary, etc—this helps the reader navigate through your paper.
  6. If you have an introduction in the beginning of your paper with info on the route, an overview of the landscape and geology, and explanation of the purpose of the trip, the report holds together better because the reader can anticipate what is coming.
  7. “A picture is worth a thousand words” [Who said that??] It’s true: use sketches and/or photos in your paper, annotate them if you can, and be sure to put in an informative caption for each graphic used. What is the reader looking at? What direction are they looking, and why? Who took the photo? You could even scan or take pictures of sketches you drew in your field notebook and import them into your field report. The captions typidally go below the pictures, or in some cases to the right of the pictures. NOTE: I suggest you format the references with a hanging indent. This helps Dear Reader a lot!
  8. Annotate your figures if you can or if appropriate or helpful—this means drawing on them and(or) labeling right on the picture. You can do this in powerpoint or other software. See the links on how to do this on my Student Resources web page under “tools for writing science papers” for step-by-step way to do this.
  9. Number each figure. They should appear in the order in which they are mentioned in the report. Try to put the figure in the report right below where you first mention it—it's OK if it will not fit on that page; simply put it on the next page. Refer to each graphic in the text and then place the graphic on that page or on the next following page that it will fit on. Another option is to have all the graphics at the end of the report. It's helpful to put them at the end of you having trouble formatting then in the report. If they are all at the end, they should still be put in the order in which you refer to them in the text. 
  10. Suggestion: after inserting image or graphic, right click on it to get a numbered caption box; then type in your informative caption. Refer to that figure number in the text.
  11. Please check to see the correct Geographic Name of the landform or feature you are describing. USGS Board of Geographic Names    Geographic names, geologic names, and proper names are all capitalized. If it's not one of these, then it probably does not need to be in caps.  
  12. If you can, use a serif font, such as Times New Roman, rather than a non-serif font (Ariel).
  13. Please use left-justified formatting for all headings, captions, and text. The title can be center justified and pictures too (or not). Both sides justified is hard to read, please don't use it.


All reports and papers must be the original work of the author

If you don’t know what plagiarism is, go to the Kirk Library website under “Get Help” and browse the links there—in particular see research help, which has links to library handouts and information on topics about plagiarism and research techniques. But what about citations related to things you learned from me (Pat Pringle) or from exhibits: I think just a blanket statement at the Silver Lake Visitor Center, for example, to say some of the information in your report is from the exhibits there would suffice. Also, you could simply say in a short acknowledgements section that some information in the report originated with me (during the field trip) and still other information was derived from exhibits. Otherwise you would have to say (Patrick Pringle, oral commun.) for each statement I made. But that style is mainly used when you have a specific unpublished fact and you want to give credit to the individual who is the source of the fact. Because I was giving a running commentary all during the trip, just one statement about that is fine with me in this situation.

Please, no covers, folders, or paper clips. Simply staple your report together. The report must be typed and left justified only.

Line spacing: I prefer double spacing or 1.5 line spacing.

References: You should supplement your field report with at least four references. These can be geologic maps, reports, information sheets, etc. As noted in class, only two WIKIPEDIA references will be accepted. Use credible sources. See the Kirk Library’s research help link mentioned above for tips on getting credible resources.

Use APA citation style See

In-text listing is as so: (author, date)   or, for multiple authors, (author and others, date); all authors must be listed in references section as noted in APA style guidelines

page updated on May 20, 2017