Instructor: Peter Bannon, Lectures: Monday 10:10-11:00 a.m. in 607 Walker Building


Course Designation

Meteo 494M (Undergraduate Research) is encouraged for all Meteo majors in the Atmospheric Science option and is an elective for all other options in the Meteo major.  Meteo 580 (Communication of Meteorological Research) is required of all Meteo MS and PhD students. 

Course Description

Students perform research under the guidance of a faculty member that is summarized in a term paper styled as a short journal article.  Students also give a timed 12-minute oral presentation.

Course Objective

This course seeks to improve each student’s ability to communicate science in both written and oral presentations. 


Meteo 494M: Junior or senior standing as a Meteorology – Atmospheric Science major

Meteo 580: Graduate standing 

Internet Materials

ANGEL homepage for course: 


  • The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
  • Eloquent Science by Schultz: Available free at
  • Style for Students Online by Schall

Lectures: Monday 10:10-11:00 a.m. in 607 Walker Building 


Peter R. Bannon
521 Walker Building       
Office hours: Mon., Wed., and Fri. at 11:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m., by appointment, or whenever the door is open 

Teaching assistant: none 

Attendance: Required (unless you are off-campus for a conference or a field program)

Course Topics

  • Introduction
  • Elements of good writing
  • Science of science writing
  • Science manuscripts
  • Effective sentences and paragraphs
  • Authorship and titles
  • AMS/AGU style guidelines
  • Science illustrations
  • Scientific meetings
  • Oral presentations at science meetings
  • Poster presentations at science meetings
  • Peer review
  • Scientific Ethics
  • Resumes (curriculum vitae)
  • Oral presentations in class 

Please note that this outline serves only as a general guide to the course.  The actual topics covered may vary at the discretion of the instructor


  • Schall, Joe, 1995: Style for Students Online. Available at
  • Schultz, D. M., 2009: Eloquent Science. American Meteorological Society. 412 pp.* Available free at
  • Strunk, W., Jr., and E. B. White, 2007:  The Elements of Style.  Fourth edition. Macmillan, 147 pp.* * On reserve in the EMS Library 

Supplementary Readings

  • Garland, J., 1991: Advice to beginning physics speakers.  Physics Today, July 1991, 42-45.  (Available on the course web site.)
  • Gopen, G. D. and J. A. Swan, 1990: The science of science writing.  American Scientist, 78, 550-558.  (Available on the course web site.)
  • Mermin, N. D., 1992: What’s wrong with those talks.  Physics Today, November 1992, 9-10 (Available on the course web site.)

Assessment Tools 

Grades are partially based on the assigned work including

  1. a short journal article (THE PAPER),
  2. a 12-minute oral presentation (THE PRESENTATION). 

The paper may be a succinct summary of your research work or may be on some other topic approved by the instructor. The paper and associated talk can also be from a conference that you are preparing to attend or have recently attended if you (and not your advisor/co-authors) did most of the writing and if you thoroughly critique and revise the paper based on what you have learned in this course. The goal here is for all of us to learn to improve our written and oral presentations

Undergraduate students (3 credits): 1/3 of your grade comes from this lecture portion of the course and the other 2/3 comes from your research advisor. The paper should be a succinct summary of your research. Be sure to contact your research advisors early in the semester and ensure that they know this grading policy for Meteo 494M. Then e-mail me their names. 

Graduate students (1 credit): The entire grade comes from the written and oral assignments described above.  These assignments will help you prepare for writing and defending your thesis.

PhD students: This course prepares you for the university-mandated Technical English Competency requirement. For this requirement, each PhD candidate must write an acceptable journal article not exceeding 2000 words and give an acceptable 12-minute oral presentation. An ad-hoc panel of faculty members (none of whom are the student’s advisers) evaluates each of these two requirements as accomplished during this course.

Note: passing Meteo 580 does not necessarily mean passing the Technical English Competency requirement. 

Research Mini-Symposium (MeteoFest) 

We will hold a mini-symposium on one or more days near the end of the semester for the 12-minute talks. 

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to do their own writing.  Do not copy text from another person's paper or from a World Wide Web site and present the material as your own, because that is plagiarism.  Other people's work should be summarized in your own words and properly referenced.  Such reference provides necessary background for presenting your work.  Students who plagiarize will receive a grade of F in this course.  This course adopts the EMS college policy on academic integrity. Please see:

Meteo 494M Course Objectives

  1. Students can demonstrate the ability to complete and write a technical report on a research project overseen by a faculty member or other. 

Meteorology BS Program Objectives

  1. To produce graduates who possess quantitative, scientific reasoning skills that can be applied to atmospheric problems.
  2. To produce graduates who have a general knowledge of a range of atmospheric phenomena and applications, and have expertise in one or more program sub disciplines or related interdisciplinary areas
  3. To produce graduates who are equipped to contribute to solving problems in the atmospheric sciences and related disciplines, through service in business or as educators, researchers, and leaders in academia, government, the private sector, and civil society.

Meteo 494M Course Outcomes

  1. Students can demonstrate knowledge of effective scientific writing principles, including proper organization of the material and use of good.
  2. Students can demonstrate knowledge of good practices in reviewing and editing atmospheric science manuscripts.
  3. Students can demonstrate knowledge of issues underlying proper scientific ethical behavior, such as plagiarism and authorship. 

Meteorology BS Program Outcomes

  1. Graduates can demonstrate skills for interpreting and applying atmospheric observations
  2. Graduates can demonstrate knowledge of the atmosphere and its evolution
  3. Graduates can demonstrate knowledge of the role of water in the atmosphere
  4. Graduates can demonstrate facility with computer applications to atmospheric problems
  5. Graduates can demonstrate skills for communicating their technical knowledge 

Brief course description from University Bulletin: 

METEO 494M Undergraduate Research (3) A research thesis will be prepared. A written and oral presentation is required.

Undergraduate Research (3) 

General Education: None 
Diversity: None 
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Fall 2014 Ending: Fall 2014 Future: Fall 2014 
Prerequisite: junior or senior standing as a Meteorology Major

Note: Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus. 

METEO 580 Communication of Meteorological Research (1) Methods for effective written and oral presentation of meteorological research are reviewed.

Communication of Meteorological Research (1) 

General Education: None 
Diversity: None 
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Spring 1994 

Note: Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus. 

Technical English Competency Exam 

Faculty interaction policy for the Technical English Competency Exam (Professional Presentation Exam)

Meteo 580 is the preparatory course for the Technical English Competency Exam with speaking and writing requirements matching that for this exam. In Meteo 580 and the exam, students give a rigorously timed 12-minute talk. As part of the course, students are provided lots of detailed feedback on their Meteo 580 talks and are told in the course that they can give a revised version of the talk for the Tech exam. Also, students are counseled in the course to practice all of their talks with an audience to get helpful input. Given that many students have little or no technical speaking experience, having faculty and others provide students feedback on their talks to help them improve their speaking ability is allowed. The paper written in Meteo 580 is also of the same format as that for the Technical English Competency Exam. As part of the class, students are given feedback on earlier drafts of the paper by fellow students and the instructor; as for the talk, a revised version of the paper can be submitted as part of the exam. Faculty input is allowed on this exam paper so long as the sentences are critiqued, but not rewritten by the faculty; the intent is for the students' writing ability to be evaluated, which cannot be done if the faculty rewrites the paper as part of the input phase. Thus, a paper submitted as part of the exam is to be single-authored by the student. 

EMS Syllabus Statements 


Students who do not meet these prerequisites may be disenrolled according to Administrative Policy C-5. if they do not have the proper prerequisite override. Students who re-enroll in the course after being dis-enrolled according to this policy are in violation of Item 15 on the Student Code of Conduct:

Assistance with Textbooks

Penn State honors and values the socioeconomic diversity of our students. If you require assistance with the costs of textbooks for this course, contact the Office of Student and Family Services (120 Boucke Building, 863-4926, For additional need related to socioeconomic status please visit

Academic Integrity

Students in this class are expected to write up their problem sets individually, to work the exams on their own, and to write their papers in their own words using proper citations.  Class members may work on the problem sets in groups, but then each student must write up the answers separately.  Students are not to copy problem or exam answers from another person's paper and present them as their own; students may not plagiarize text from papers or websites written by others.  Students who present other people's work as their own will receive at least a 0 on the assignment and may well receive an F or XF in the course.  Please see: Earth and Mineral Sciences Academic Integrity Policy:, which this course adopts. To learn more, see Penn State's "Plagiarism Tutorial for Students."

Course Copyright 

All course materials students receive or to which students have online access are protected by copyright laws. Students may use course materials and make copies for their own use as needed, but unauthorized distribution and/or uploading of materials without the instructor’s express permission is strictly prohibited. University Policy AD 40, the University Policy Recording of Classroom Activities and Note Taking Services addresses this issue. Students who engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials may be held in violation of the University’s Code of Conduct, and/or liable under Federal and State laws.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University's educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. The Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: ( For further information, please visit the Student Disability Resources website (

In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation based on the documentation guidelines ( If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus’s disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early in your courses as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations. 


This course abides by the Penn State Attendance Policy E-11:, and Conflict Exam Policy 44-35: Please also see Illness Verification Policy:, and Religious Observance Policy: Students who miss class for legitimate reasons will be given a reasonable opportunity to make up missed work, including exams and quizzes.  Students are not required to secure the signature of medical personnel in the case of illness or injury and should use their best judgment on whether they are well enough to attend class or not; the University Health Center will not provide medical verification for minor illnesses or injuries. Other legitimate reasons for missing class include religious observance, military service, family emergencies, regularly scheduled university-approved curricular or extracurricular activities, and post-graduate, career-related interviews when there is no opportunity for students to re-schedule these opportunities (such as employment and graduate school final interviews).  Students who encounter serious family, health, or personal situations that result in extended absences should contact the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs (AVPSA) and Student and Family Services for help:  Whenever possible, students participating in University-approved activities should submit to the instructor a Class Absence Form available from the Registrar's Office:, at least one week prior to the activity.

Weather Delays

Campus emergencies, including weather delays, are announced on Penn State News and communicated to cell phones, email, the Penn State Facebook page, and Twitter via PSUAlert (Sign up at:

Syllabus and Paper Acknowledgement Forms
In addition, the new recommendation from the college is that all students sign and return the Syllabus Acknowledgement Form during the first week of the semester. In addition,. The College also recommends the attached Paper Submission Form as a way to have students take responsibility for papers/labs/homework done as part of group work.

Penn State E-mail Accounts

All official communications from Penn State are sent to students' Penn State e-mail accounts. Be sure to check your Penn State account regularly, or forward your Penn State e-mail to your preferred e-mail account, so you don't miss any important information. 

Deferred Grades

If you are prevented from completing this course within the prescribed amount of time, it is possible to have the grade deferred with the concurrence of the instructor. To seek a deferred grade, you must submit a written request (by e-mail or U.S. post) to your instructor describing the reason(s) for the request. It is up to your instructor to determine whether or not you will be permitted to receive a deferred grade. If, for any reason, the course work for the deferred grade is not complete by the assigned time, a grade of "F" will be automatically entered on your transcript. 

Military Personnel

Veterans and currently serving military personnel and/or spouses with unique circumstances (e.g., upcoming deployments, drill/duty requirements, disabilities, VA appointments, etc.) are welcome and encouraged to communicate these, in advance if possible, to the instructor in the case that special arrangements need to be made. 

Technical Requirements

For this course, we recommend the minimum technical requirements outlined on the Dutton Institute Technical Requirements page (, including the requirements listed for same-time, synchronous communications. If you need technical assistance at any point during the course, please contact the ITS Help Desk (


The term "Netiquette" refers to the etiquette guidelines for electronic communications, such as e-mail and bulletin board postings. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions, but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of forum messages. Please review some general Netiquette guidelines that should be followed when communicating in this course. 

Disruptive Behavior

Behavior that disrupts normal classroom activities will not be tolerated, in accordance with Items 9 and 14 in the Student Code of Conduct.


In the case of an emergency, we will follow the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Critical Incident Plan (  In the event of an evacuation, we will follow posted evacuation routes and gather at the Designated Meeting Site.  Evacuation routes for all EMS buildings are available at  For more information regarding actions to take during particular emergencies, please see the Penn State Emergency Action Guides

Disclaimer Statement

Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus can be changed at any time, and you will be responsible for abiding by any such changes. Changes will be posted to the course discussion forum.