Communication of Research in Atmospheric Science

Syllabus for Meteo 880: Fall 2020

Draft date: 26 August, 2020

METEO 880 - Communication of Research in Atmospheric Science

METEO 494M - Thesis Research

Instructor: William H. Brune
Office: rarely in 617 Walker Building (at home or Pine Hall Building, 1943 Pine Hall Road)
Phone: 814-308-3170
Mail to:
Office hours: send email to set up a Zoom call
Class meeting time and location: Thursday, 3:05 - 4:20pm; on-line: Zoom


You are personally responsible for stopping the spread of COVID-19. On and off campus, you must follow guidelines established by science, not Stupid. 

  • Wear a mask indoors and outdoors on campus and in your personal life when you are near others who are not in your "pod" (i.e., safe group) or when you might unexpectedly encounter someone else.
  • If at all possible, keep at least 2 m away from others.
  • If at all possible, avoid touching surfaces that others may have recently touched.
  • Wash or sanitize your hands frequently.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Follow Penn State guidelines rigorously.

Course designation in curriculum

METEO 880 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.

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

Course descriptions from LIONPATH

METEO 880 Communication of Meteorological Research (2). Methods for effective written and oral presentation of meteorological research are reviewed.

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.

Required textbook

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.  The pdf available on this website.

Recommended textbooks

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: (Links to an external site.)

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 (Links to an external site.)

Course expectations

The course expectations for M880 and Meteo 494M include course objectives and outcomes.

Course objectives

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

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

Course outcomes

  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 (Links to an external site.)

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


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 seven main activities:

  1. A short technical essay 
  2. A manuscript
  3. An oral presentation 
  4. A poster presentation 
  5. A plain-language summary of a research article 
  6. A simple webpage 
  7. Peer reviews 

Classroom time will consist primarily of discussions about the readings, presentation and peer-review of students' work. Each student will then revise their work based on the peer-review, in some cases will present their work again, and finally, after the last revision, will submit it. 


I expect you to participate actively in class, complete all assignments on time,  deliver a manuscript and oral presentation of high enough quality that you will pass the Technical English Exam, and provide a plain language summary and website. If you meet these expectations, you will receive an "A". If I think that you are not meeting these expectations, I will give you a warning in time for you to do better. If you do not respond to my warnings, then you will receive a lower grade. 

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.

Webcam usage

This course may require you to have a webcam for class sessions and assessments.
Classes and assessments may be conducted using Zoom or other technology selected by your instructor which may use your computer’s webcam or other technologies to communicate, monitor, and/or record classes, class activities, and assessments. Assessments may also be conducted using proctoring software, which may listen to you, monitor your computer screen, view you and your surroundings, and record (including visual and audio recordings) all activity during the proctoring process. Please contact your instructor if you are unable to comply or have any questions or concerns.

Academic integrity. This course follows the guidelines for academic integrity of Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences (Links to an external site.). 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 (Links to an external site.).”

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: ( (Links to an external site.)). For further information, please visit the Office for Disability Services website ( (Links to an external site.). 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 ( (Links to an external site.)). 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: (Links to an external site.), and Conflict Exam Policy 44-35: Please also see Illness Verification Policy: (Links to an external site.),

and Religious Observance Policy: (Links to an external site.).

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: (Links to an external site.). Whenever possible, students participating in University-approved activities should submit to the instructor a Class Absence Form available from the Registrar's Office: (Links to an external site.), at least one week prior to the activity.

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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. 

Course Summary:

  • Wed Sep 2, 2020 Assignment short essay due by 11:59pm
  • Wed Sep 9, 2020 Assignment short essay revision due by 11:59pm
  • Wed Sep 16, 2020 Assignment manuscript outline due by 11:59pm
  • Wed Oct 14, 2020 Assignment manuscript due by 11:59pm
  • Wed Oct 28, 2020 Assignment manuscript revision due by 11:59pm
  • Wed Nov 4, 2020 Assignment oral presentation due by 11:59pm
  • Wed Nov 18, 2020 Assignment poster presentation due by 11:59pm 
  • Wed Dec 2, 2020 Assignment plain language summary due by 11:59pm
  • Thu Dec 10, 2020 Assignment website due by 11:59pm