LRES 575-8xx: Professional Paper
Spring and Fall
Credit: 3 graduate
The professional paper is intended to give you an in-depth experience in the design, implementation, and completion of a rigorous, original project. It is a scholarly assessment, and novel analysis of a clearly formulated problem. It is not a term paper. Like a thesis, the outcome of a professional paper is a paper of publishable quality like that of a peer-reviewed journal paper. As such, approximate guidelines for the length of the paper are 25-45 double spaced pages (including figures, tables, references, etc.). In addition, you are expected to orally present (via webinar) your professional paper at a symposium to your graduate committee and other interested faculty and students.
The professional paper requirement is flexible to your needs and interests and tailored to your topic of study and/or research. Professional papers should draw from and build on course work completed throughout the program. You are also encouraged to draw upon ongoing work-place relationships, collaborations, and research interests in designing and implementing a professional paper. The topic of your professional paper should align with the background or experience of your professional paper instructor to ensure quality mentoring. Although the professional paper is a rigorous analytical exercise, primary data collection is not strictly required. Professional papers can be based on either primary or secondary data analyses. Although not preferred, and with instructor approval, it can be based on a novel, synthetic analysis of existing literature provided you conduct a clearly unique academic study. The abstract must clearly indicate your contribution and report results from the analysis.
Your professional paper is a two-semester process, not a two-semester course. The first semester is focused on proposal development and project initiation (You will NOT register for professional paper credits during this semester). The second semester is focused on project and paper completion (You WILL register for 3 credits of professional paper during this semester). Ideally, these arethe final two semesters of your program. The proposal development semester begins withrequired participationin several online modules that detail the overall professional paper process. From there, you will begin to identify a topic and write a short proposal (< 1 page), followed by a full proposal and literature review (approximately 3-5 pages). The proposal must be approved by an instructor and your graduate committeethe semester beforeregistering for the 3-credit professional paper course. During the two semesters that you are working on your proposal and professional paper, you will work closely with your professional paper instructor to carry out the proposed project.Regular meetings are strongly advised so that you stay on schedule.
Deadlines for proposals are as follows:
Semester 1: Proposal development and project initiation:
The goal of the proposal development semester is to help you articulate the problem, goals, and potential methods for your research and to help you identify a faculty member to work with on your project. The first step of proposal development is to write a short proposal (< 1 page) that addresses the following key questions:
Short proposal questions/prompts:
Please submit your short proposal to your primary academic advisor, Scott Powell (email@example.com). Once you have submitted a short proposal, your graduate committee will review your responses, provide feedback, and help you identify an appropriate faculty instructor. The remainder of the proposal development semester will then be devoted to working on your full proposal (3-5 pages) that addresses the following key questions:
Full proposal questions/prompts:
Note: You are encouraged to begin working on your project concurrent to developing the full proposal.
Please submit your full proposal to your primary academic advisor, Scott Powell (firstname.lastname@example.org) and your faculty instructor.
Semester 2: Project and paper completion:
To ensure that you complete your project, you must strictly adhere to a rigid timeline for the professional paper during the project completion semester. Suggested guidelines,at a minimum,are as follows:
You are required to orally present your rehearsed, instructor-approved professional paper during a live, public symposium via webinar. The symposium will be the only scheduled event for the course. A headset works best for audio and is strongly recommended.In addition, it is strongly recommended that you are plugged into an internet cable (as opposed to wireless), or that you are in a building with a robust internet connection (e.g., at work, at school, or in a public library).Marni Rolston will conduct a test with you one week before the symposium to ensure that you have the proper software and equipment and that everything is running smoothly.
You will be allotted 12-20 minutes for the presentation, and 3-5 minutes for questions and answers (time allotment depends on the number of presentations). Presentation graphics (e.g., PowerPoint) are expected.
The following arerequirementsfor an effective presentation:
Use of an active and first-person voice throughout the paper is required, unless extraordinary circumstances and permission from your instructor dictate otherwise.
The format for the written professional paper must follow closely the standard thesis preparation guidelines established by The Graduate School (follow link for the Standard Option Template): https://www.montana.edu/etd/formatting/standard-option.html.
Please note, however, that professional papers will NOT be submitted directly to The Graduate School for formatting (even if you do receive an e-mail from The Graduate School about this). Use standard citation format for ecological journals (e.g., Ecology) – Author(s). Year. Article title. Journal namevolume: pages.
The professional paper course is graded with a letter grade, as with any other course. Your professional paper instructor is the ultimate arbiter of the final grade, and they may solicit input from your graduate committee if desired. The course will be graded based on the learning outcomes and the following breakdown:
After your presentation, you will have approximately one week to incorporate any additional feedback into your final paper.