GEOG 858
Spatial Data Science for Emergency Management

Term Project - Make Progress On Your First Draft


Make Progress On Your First Draft

This week, you should be making significant progress on the first draft of your term project. Your goal should be to make the first draft as high quality as possible, with the idea that doing so will mean you have less work ahead of you to complete your second (and final) draft.

I have designed the timing of this assignment so that I have time to read your full drafts, offer feedback and editing suggestions, and return them to you with enough time left in the course so you can revise your work before submitting a final version.


Here are my expectations for your first draft:

  • It should be clear who you are writing for and the role you are playing in preparing this report.
  • Your draft should be complete, and the topics from your abstract and outline should be covered.
  • I understand you may still be working on some of the data analysis and visualization, so I will put a greater emphasis on the rest of the draft. That said, the logic of your analysis should be clear and there should be good progress towards completing your analysis. 
  • It should be well written using correct grammar and spelling.
  • Your draft should not exceed the 3000-word limit (citations and figure captions do not count toward the word limit). A more detailed version of your methodology can be provided in an appendix, and this doesn't count towards your word limit. 
  • The format of your document should be consistent and elegant.
  • You should use a common citation format and apply it consistently. If you don't know which one to use, Chicago Author-Date style is a good default.


Term Project - First Draft Grading Criteria
Criteria Description Possible Points
Introduction The introduction meaningfully engages the target audience/reader and clearly presents the central argument along with its substantive, technical and applied contexts. 15

Background and Supporting Research

The paper is well researched and contains references to peer-reviewed articles, government documents and industry reports that relate to the arguments in a logical manner.
References are correctly cited.


Analysis and Interpretations

The design and implementation of a methodology was appropriately used to address the central arguments of your topic.

Critical, relevant and consistent connections are made between evidence and central arguments. Includes appropriate use of maps, graphics, and tables. Analytical insights are sound and show a deep understanding of the issues.

Depending on your selected topic, this may involve describing the steps taken for data analysis and mapping (NOTE –step by step instructions can be put into an appendix and will not count against word limits – discuss this with the instructor).


Excellent summary of topic and central arguments with concluding statements that impacts the target audience/reader. 10 10
Writing There is evidence of editing and proofreading. Writing is engaging and well-structured with excellent transitions between sentences and paragraphs. Writing is polished and professional. Concepts are integrated in an original manner. 15

This week, you should complete at least the first half of your term project draft. You will have all of this week and next week to complete your first draft, and since you have other assignments in this course, I recommend you manage your time accordingly.

If you're like me and you have trouble getting started on writing assignments, consider this piece of advice I heard from a colleague about completing a Ph.D. dissertation:

"Every day, set aside a writing task for yourself that is so small that you cannot possibly fail to complete it."

When I was writing my dissertation, I set little goals for myself every day that mirrored this advice. For me, it worked best to set a specific word count that I had to achieve every day. For you, there may be better ways to motivate yourself, so your mileage may vary.

dog sitting in front of a laptop
Getting started on writing can be hard. Just keep at it! Let me know if you are having any problems you'd like to talk about. 
Credit: Oscar Beaty


Remember, if you have any questions while you are working on your first draft, just send me an email or leave a post on the Questions and Comments Discussion in Canvas.