METEO 494 and 580

METEO 494M Thesis ResearchMETEO 580 Communication of Meteorological Research

Syllabus for Meteo 494M and 580: Spring 2018

METEO 494M  Thesis Research

METEO 580 Communication of Meteorological Research

Instructor:  Raymond Najjar (pronounced NAY-jar)

Office: 522 Walker Building

Phone: 863-1586

Mail to:

Office hours: by appointment, or whenever the door is open

Class meeting time and location: 3:35–5:30 pm Tuesday, 010 Deike Building

Course designation in curriculum

METEO 494M is the undergraduate thesis research course taken by Schreyer Honors scholars in the Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science.

METEO 580 is required of all Meteorology and Atmospheric Science MS and PhD students. Meteo 580 is also the preparatory course for the Ph.D. Technical English Competency Exam. The final draft of the paper written in Meteo 580 may serve as the Technical English Competency Exam paper. The oral portion of the exam will be scheduled in coordination with the associate head of the graduate program near the end of the semester. See the departmental graduate student handbook for further details.

Course descriptions from LIONPATH

METEO 494M Thesis Research (3). In this course, students will write a professionally structured thesis based on solid research foundations. They will learn the elements of good science writing and effective oral presentation.

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

Required textbooks

Schultz, D.M., 2009. Eloquent Science: A Practical Guide to Becoming a Better Writer, Speaker, and Atmospheric Scientist. American Meteorological Society, Boston, Massachusetts, 412 pp. Available free at

Lebrun, J.-L., 2011. Scientific Writing 2.0, A Reader and Writer’s Guide. World Scientific, 280 pp. Available electronically from the Penn State library at:

Recommended textbooks

Strunk Jr., W., White, E.B., 2007. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition. Macmillan, 147 pp. On reserve in the Earth and Mineral Sciences Library (Deike Building, 2nd floor).

Schall, J., 2016. Style for Students Online. The Pennsylvania State University. Available at

Course expectations

The course expectations for Meteo 494M and 580 include course objectives and outcomes. The course objectives are:

  1. Students can demonstrate the ability to complete and write a technical report on a research project overseen by a faculty member or other scientist.
  2. Students can demonstrate the ability to prepare and deliver an oral presentation on a research project overseen by a faculty member or other scientist.
  3. Students can demonstrate the ability to prepare and deliver a poster presentation on a research project overseen by a faculty member or other scientist.

The course outcomes are:

  1. Students can demonstrate knowledge of effective scientific writing principles, including proper organization of the material and use of good grammar.
  2. Students can demonstrate the ability to produce effective graphics and tables.
  3. Students can demonstrate effective oral communication skills.
  4. Students can design an effective poster presentation with the appropriate amount and sizing of text and graphics.
  5. Students can demonstrate knowledge of good practices in reviewing and editing atmospheric science manuscripts.
  6. Students can demonstrate knowledge of issues underlying proper scientific ethical behavior, such as plagiarism and authorship.

Objective 1 and Outcomes 1, 5, and 6 are the formal outcomes for Meteo 494M (formerly 480M). See

Course content

  1. Overview: Why we communicate scientific research
  2. The building blocks of good writing: paragraphs, sentences, phrases, and words
  3. Accessible scientific writing
  4. The scientific journal article
  5. Authorship
  6. The peer-review process
  7. The poster presentation
  8. The oral presentation
  9. Communicating research to the general public

Assignments. The main activities in the class will be writing, reviewing, reading, and discussing. In addition to the required reading for each lecture period, there are six main activities:

  1. A short technical essay (8%)
  2. An introduction section of a short paper (12%)
  3. A methods section of a short paper (4%)
  4. A short paper (26%)
  5. An oral presentation (20%)
  6. A poster presentation (20%)
  7. A plain-language summary of a research article (10%)

For some activities you will produce two drafts and for some you will review another’s work. Reading assignments will often serve as the basis of class discussion. Detailed assignment schedules (one for reading and one for assignments you will hand in) are given as separate handouts.

Grades: A: 92–100%; A–: 88–91%; B+: 84­–87%; B: 80–83%; B–: 75–79%; C+: 71–74%; C: 63–70%; D: 50–62%; F: <50%.

Course web site. I will use Canvas to communicate with the class electronically. I will

also use Canvas to post grades, assignments, handouts, visuals that I show in class, etc.

Academic integrity. This course follows the guidelines for academic integrity of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Penn State defines academic integrity as “the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner.” Academic integrity includes “a commitment not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception.” In particular, the University defines plagiarism as “the fabrication of information and citations; submitting other's work from professional journals, books, articles, and papers; submission of other student's papers, lab results or project reports and representing the work as one's own.” Penalties for violations of academic integrity may include course failure. 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. For example, uploading completed labs, homework, or other assignments to any study site constitutes a violation of this policy.

Accommodations for student 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 Office for Disability Services (ODS) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus: ( For further information, please visit the Office for Disability Services 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.

Attendance. 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 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:

Reporting bias-motivated incidents. Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff.  Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated ( and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage.

Counseling and Psychological Services. Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing.  The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings.  These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation.  Services include the following:

Disclaimer. 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 to the syllabus shall also be given to the student in written (paper or electronic) form.