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Certificate in Hydrogeology and  Environmental Geology



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Non-Thesis Option

Research Paper Guidelines

Students pursuing the non-thesis option for  M.S. in Geology must write a graduate research paper.  Such students should begin to consider a topic soon after being admitted to the Graduate School. They may find ideas for their research in papers they write, courses they take, lectures or special discussions they attend, or conversations with professors and other graduate students. After choosing a topic of interest the student must find a faculty member willing to oversee the project. This person will serve as the studentís advisor.

Research Topic

    Generally, the research-paper topic should have the following characteristics:
    • **Of great interest to student.
    • **Of sufficient scope to fulfill requirements of the studentís advisor.
    • **Be feasible. 
      • Specifically, the student must provide evidence that complete treatment of the topic is possible and desirable within the two-semester time limit.
    • **Within the specialties of one or more ECU Geology Department faculty members.


    When the student has chosen a research area and found a faculty member willing to serve as advisor, a conference should be arranged with that advisor to explore the various possibilities of the project.  After the topic has been chosen, the student must prepare a proposal, which should include the following:
    • **A prose statement of the purpose, methods, and scope of the topic.
    • **An outline showing the projected organization and manner of treatment  (methodology and time line).
    • **A bibliography of reference materials related to the topic.

    The completed proposal must be presented to the project committee (see thesis committee).  Once the proposal is presented and approved, the student undertakes the chief responsibility:  the research and writing of the paper.  The advisor will offer direction and suggestions for improvement.

Research Paper

Although the exact format of each research paper will be decided by the specific advisor and committee, all research papers must conform to the general requirements for thesis format (as laid out by the Graduate School) and will consist of 5 major parts:
  • **Abstract summarizing the important results of the project
  • **Preliminary material (Title Page, Acknowledgments, Table of Contents,  List of Tables, List of Figures, etc.)
  • **Text
    • Introduction to the Project
    • Background and Literature Review
    • Objectives of Research
    • Methods Employed during Research
    • Results of Research
    • Analysis of Results
    • Conclusions and Significance of Research
  • **References
  • **Appendices
Some research papers may be written in the form of a report to a client, such as might be necessary for an employee of an environmental consulting firm.  Prior approval of the project advisor is necessary for this option.


East Carolina University


East Carolina University

Department of Geological Sciences
101 Graham Building
Greenville, NC 27858
phone: 252-328-6360
fax : 252-328-4391 

Thomas Harriot

College of Arts and Sciences