MAE 124/ESYS 103 Spring 2010
Additional Guidance for
Paper topic: paper2.pdf
Writing tips from your TAs: notes_on_writing.pdf
Examples of excellent papers from the first paper assignment: available on WebCT.
(Writing tips from a previous year: writing_guide.pdf)
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can you tell me of any good resources for scientific papers pertinent to this paper topic, such as scientific journals that are highly regarded in the field?
paper topic asks you to think about life cycle assessment as applied to
"green" products. We'll
continue to talk about this in class, but here are some starting points.
For life cycle assessment, take a look at the links in our suggested
Other good links:
Check out the course-related news links
for ideas for other technologies that might
merit consideration. You might also look at the
San Jose Mercury News'
Green Energy section or the New York Times Green Inc. blog,
both of which have
extensive coverage of alternative energy
issues. However, keep in mind that newspaper articles, while helpful as
points, are not scholarly references, and we really want you to use
as your primary sources.
way to find scientific papers is by
using either Google Scholar or
ISI web of science to search
key words for refereed
publications pertinent to your topic. If you are on campus or are using
UCSD proxy servers, you should be able to click through to the full
that come up in your search.
Finally, we'll point you to David MacKay's book
Energy -- without the Hot Air, which provides useful
assessments of energy demand. The synopsis makes a
good starting point
do we use turnitin.com?
See the detailed instructions.
How do I create footnotes? Are endnotes acceptable?
Footnotes and endnotes are both fine. Any consistent format is OK. The
Manual of Style is one
standard format, and you can find a detailed discussion of its usage
term papers at
this University of Wisconsin writing center site.
You may also use citation methods
commonly used for scientific papers, such as numbered references or
in line references to
and year, with a full reference list at the end. A sample reference
be "[Smith and Jones, 2006]". In this case, you should
be sure to identify specific page numbers where relevant ("[Smith and
Jones, 2006, p. 291]").
This Long Island University site
explains the American Medical Association style,
and this University of Georgia site explains the
American Physical Association Style.
How should web pages be cited? What types of web pages are acceptable
If you use a web page as a source, then you should cite it, providing
as much standard reference information as possible: author, web page
creation date (if available), your access date,
location, etc. Keep in mind that web pages vary considerably in
credibility. In general, the most credible information comes from
peer-reviewed scholarly publications (which could include electronic
journals and electronic reprints posted to web pages---if you use a
journal article or other publication that happens to be posted to the
web, then please cite it the same way you would cite it if you had
found it in the library, with standard information such as author,
publication year, journal name or publisher, volume number, page
reports (with citations) from environmental organizations are also
often fairly reliable, although they
may not have gone through a peer review process. Some web pages are
essentially advertising brochures for a particular product, and you
probably assume that the authors are presenting a biased view of their
product's features. (Much material also appears in blogs, which can
be interesting and provocative, but may not have much real research or
behind them. We don't recommend blogs as primary research sources.)
How do I request an extension?
Please contact your TA (before the paper deadline).
Note that if we grant an extension for the week 6 homework assignment
we don't expect that you will need this),
that will not extend to the paper deadline.
How should I format my paper?
Please use the following guidelines.
- Upload Word, RTF, or pdf documents to turnitin.com.
- Include your name (First, then Last), PID, course title, TA's name,
and date in upper right hand corner, single spaced.
- Use 1 inch margins, with 12 point font for the whole document.
the main text.
- Center your title at the top, but do not include a separate title
- Clearly label sections (abstract, introduction, etc.)
- Include page numbers, centered at the bottom of the pages.
I am confused about the focus of the paper. If we research
a life cycle assessment, then will section C of the report (Life Cycle
Assessment) be a summary of the life cycle, or the actual assessment
we found copy-pasted?
For this paper
you should perform a life cycle assessment yourself. That means that
want to find as much data as you can about a carbon mitigation strategy,
use the formalism of life cycle assessment to evaluate the strategy.
should not plan to copy/paste anyone else's life cycle assessment (and
although life cycle assessments have been completed for many products,
it's unlikely that you'll find a life cycle assessment that does exactly
what this paper asks you to do.)
Should we focus most of the paper on judging the
product, defining the life cycle, or making our own assessment of a
The assignment asks you both to complete a life cycle assessment and to
evaluate the results. Life cycle assessments always should include an
evaluation, and the paper instructions have some specific suggestions of
issues you might consider.
Sections C, D, and E should form the core of the life cycle assessment.
The balance between these sections will depend on the topic you choose
What are possible paper topics?
As a starting point, take a look at the list of "green" agricultural products
at the top of the
paper assignment. Here are some other options.
And of course, anything else you can thing of is great, provided it
stays within the broad scope of the assignment. For whatever
topic you choose, think about materials, production, use lifetime
requirements, transportation, waste/disposal. Compare it to alternatives.
Think about water and
green house gas savings. Consider the feasibility in terms of cost,
infrastructure, current resources.
- Urban compost pick-up
- Free-range chicken
- Back-yard fruit
- Drip irrigation systems
I have a question about the inventory analysis section of the LCA. I'm
really sure about how to implement this component into the assignment. I
have some data and outcomes from some papers and a few calculations i
to carry out because they are not covered anywhere but nothing to really
fill data collection, refinement and such. How should I go about this?
For the inventory analysis, think about what you would need to do if
you were a manufacturer presenting a LCA for your product. You'd have
data about the materials from which your product (CFLs in your case)
were made, data about energy used for manufacturing, data about energy
use during their lifetime, and data about disposal. Although the
published literature on CFLs may not cover all of this, you should be
able to report as much data as you can, identify areas where data are
not readily available and make estimates for these (with large
out a little here and wondering if I should change my topic. Can you
We understand that this is a challenging paper topic, because much of
data that you would ideally want access to is proprietary or not easily
available or not compiled in a single reference. Do the the best you
can with published resources. Explain where you are forced to make
assumptions. And don't panic. There are lots of good topics for this
Usually the abstracts have the conclusions and
results summed up concisely, but if we haven't written the whole report
yet, will we be marked down if the preliminary abstract is not complete?
Abstracts normally do summarize all the findings, but you
can probably write a fairly complete abstract that summarizes what you
know at this point and skirts around any lingering gaps in your
conclusions. (Scientists and engineers routinely do this in order to
submit abstracts for conference presentations several months in advance
of the conference.)
I was thinking doing a LCA on meat
production versus vegetables like soy. The LCA of different types of
meats and different types of vegetables are different so should I just
choose one type of meat and one type of vegetable and compare?
You'll make your analysis simpler if you consider one category of meat
compared with one alternative, so beef versus soy, or beef versus fish,
would be reasonable alternatives.
I have some sources that have many authors (some have 5). When I cite
them in my paper, is it okay to just use the first author listed, or can
just list the article name, instead? I'm really just trying to save
to keep my word count at a minimim. Maybe just listing last names would
be the best, but is that allowed? Or should I footnote? I'm not quite
sure how to do that, do I just number my biblipgraphy and reference only
the number when I cite?
Please do include full author list in your bibliography. As
we said for the first paper, we won't count your bibliography in your
word count, since we don't want to discourage you from using a broad
range of sources. When you reference the papers in your text, use just
the first author's last name, with an "et al" to indicate other authors.
Thus if you had a reference for a hypothetical guide for this term
paper, you might have the following listing in your alphabetical
Gille, S., S. Taylor, R. Kulin, and B. Maurer, 2008. How to write a
term paper on Life Cycle Assessment for MAE 124/ESYS 103, J. Pedagog.
Methods, pp. 83-97.
In the text, if you weren't using end notes, you'd reference it as
"Gille et al. (2008)" or "(Gille et al., 2008)".
Alternatively, you can use numbered end notes. By most conventions,
they are numbered in the order that they are cited. So the first
citation is "", even if the author name is Zzwyg. In scientific
literature, you can reuse the numbers. Thus you have a citation list
numbered in order of first citation, although some sources may get
cited repeatedly so that their numbers are reused again and again
through your paper. If you do this, it will help us out if you also
make a quick alphabetical bibliography.
In the humanities, usually each citation gets a new number, so
references are repeated in the end note list again and again. By
convention the first reference would contain detailed citation
information and subsequent references could have reduced details. This
strategy is fine too, but if you do this, we will require that you make
a bibliography, alphabetized by author last name.
I've just realized
that some of my initial cost information comes from a life cycle cost
rooftop gardens in Singapore. It's a fantastic, detailed article, and
just using it for initial costs and the extra weight a garden adds to
roof. The dollar amounts seem to be in U.S. dollars and the article was
in Science Direct. Is it okay to use the statistics for my initial cost
evaluation in my paper?
The article sounds great, and it's fine to use it. Science
Direct might be the web access source, not the actual journal, so make
sure that you identify the full publication information.
Can I put graphs in the LCA section of my paper, provided that I cite my
Yes, graphs are a good idea, provided they help you tell
your story. As you note, you should be sure to identify the source of
the graphs or the source of the data that you use to make the graphs
Would you like the numbers to be summarized
into tables? At this point I think I would rather just integrate the
numbers into my paper.
Is it okay to put numbers (from different sources) into my paper that
It's your choice whether you present your numbers in a
table or in a text. Numbers from different sources are fine, but of
course you'll want to convert everything into consistent units so that
your interpretation is clear.
Can we copy and paste useful tables into our papers as long we
cite the sources?
Yes, you may use tables (or graphics) from other sources if they are
Does the work cited section count in the maximum words total? What
the abstract or appendix? I did not realize how quickly 2000 words can
used in writing an LCA. I guess we have to be very selective on what to
The bibliography and appendices do not need to be included
in your word count. You are exactly right that you will need to be
selective in what you present.
Can recycled water use in san diego be used
as a "green product" for my topic? I am pretty sure I can find
data for this.
Recycled water is a possibility, though we'd definitely
that your second paper be really distinct from your first paper.
Could I consider health be a type of environmental impact?
Yes, human health is an environmental impact. (Usually we
consider this from an epidemiological (or public health) standpoint, so
you could consider incidence of asthma, heavy metal toxicity, or cancer
related to environmental pollutants. You could also consider changes
in disease vectors associated with climate change or sanitation
Most of the LCA examples that we've seen compare the green product to the
equivalent non-green product. But what about something like worm bins?
Is a simple analysis of the product OK in that case?
No, do the LCA as a comparison of multiple alternatives. The LCA concept
is focused on comparing multiple products or multiple alternate methods in
order to find the most environmentally/socially/economically appropriate
strategy. So worm bins on their own are not quite sufficient. They can
instead be compared with alternatives such as disposing of food in a landfill,
or using commercial fertilizer on your tomatoes, or running table
scraps through a standard compost bin.
Suppose we want to compare organic and regular milk. Then can we exclude
transportation from the analysis, saying that the effect of transportation is
not different in the studies? If we instead do and LCA of regular milk then
do we need transportation to be included?
An LCA of organic and regular milk can be scoped to exclude transportation. An alternate LCA of milk could be scoped to focus largely on differences in transportation method for different milk products. Alternatively, an organic/regular
milk LCA could focus on transportation (though it's hard to believe that
would be the dominant environmental impact), and a comparison of two different
forms of non-organic milk could opt to neglect transportation. Regardless,
please do try to set up your LCA as a comparison.
Are we restricted to agricultural green products?
Or can we look into energy efficiency in buildings or transportation like biofuels?
We'd like you to narrow your topic enough so that you're not trying to
analyze the entire car industry, for example, and that's why we've
specified focusing on agricultural topics this year. Biofuels can
definitely be addressed as an agriculture topic, so that's fine. Energy
efficiency in buildings seems like more of a reach (though if you have a
view on how that relates to agriculture then we're persuadable. Talk to
What's the exact policy on working together? Will we get bonus points if
You may work together, and you might manage to get bonus points if your
group effort shows evidence that you have successfully integrated
your individual research efforts together. Our policy is that we will
your individual papers. Then group efforts will be assessed, and the
original grade may be boosted up to half-a-grade, depending on the quality
of the summary page and on how well the indivudal papers connect together.
The maximum grade is still an A+, and the bulk of your grade will be determined
based on the merits of your own submission. We won't penalize
you if your group does poorly, but there's no guarantee that groups
will receive a bonus. In some cases group members'
individual papers could suffer because of the shorter word-count
limits. Therefore, those who choose to work in groups should plan to take
time to work together so that their papers and group synthesis are