Above photo courtesy of current CONS student Liz Shotman. 

The scholarly paper is your opportunity to demonstrate to a committee of readers that you have the ability to analyze a complex issue in development or conservation from the perspectives of economics, policy, and ecology - and propose a solution. We expect that your paper will be publishable in a peer-reviewed journal, or serve as a policy document for a target audience such as the organization where you did your internship.

Students wishing to conduct original research for the scholarly paper, or for any other assignment, should pay CAREFUL attention to the following university guidelines regarding the use of human and animal subjects:

If your CONS degree work will involve hands-on research with animals or interviews with people, then prior to starting either you may need to be listed on an approved Institutional Animal Care and Use Protocol or Institutional Review Board Protocol. These activities are subject to federal regulations. Noncompliance is serious.  Before you begin hands-on work with animals or interviews with people be sure to check these web sites and/or consult with the Managers of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee or the Institutional Review Board:

For research involving human subjects: http://www.umresearch.umd.edu/IRB.

For research involving animal subjects: http://www.umresearch.umd.edu/IACUC.

It is very important to CONS that no one face the potential threat of disciplinary action or non-graduation due to unfamiliarity or failure to comply with these guidelines, and we encourage all students who may have questions to consult the aforementioned sources and to email the CONS office for further guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much flexibility is there in choice of topic? Who has to approve it?

A: There is a great deal of flexibility. This is essentially an independent project and the paper is an agreement between you and your faculty advisor We encourage you to identify a faculty member who works in an area that interests you and to contact them with your ideas. Together you and the advisor will settle on a topic, a timeline, and the type of project you will do. Your advisor will give you a grade in the class, and you two will decide on timing and number of drafts that are required. You are encouraged to discuss your preliminary ideas with Keryn, who can offer suggestions for faculty advisors and direction as to how to pursue your topic.

Q: Who will read this paper?

A: Your paper will be graded by your faculty advisor.

Q: How is the faculty advisor chosen?

A: Once you have made a decision regarding the topic of your scholarly paper, you should begin searching for an appropriate faculty advisor. It is then up to the CONS student to approach the faculty member and obtain an advising commitment so that they may register for the required scholarly paper credit. Once you find an advisor willing to work with you, Diana will need to establish a section number for that advisor under CONS 798. You will need to speak with her regarding obtaining that section number and being able to register for the course. You and the advisor will decide if you sign up for one or two credits during one or two semesters.

Q: What if I cannot find a faculty member present at UMD who is an expert in my particular chosen area of research? A: Your faculty advisor does not have to be an expert in the field of your chosen topic; rather they should be able to offer constructive feedback and guidance on some aspect of your project. For example, if your project was to focus on the spatial distribution of elephant populations in Kenya, you might have several different avenues to pursue when choosing a faculty advisor. You may choose a faculty member that has a strong background in any number of areas related to your topic, including elephant biology, population ecology, or perhaps GIS mapping and spatial statistics. Ideally, there should be some overlap between your interests and those of your faculty advisor, such that the resulting working partnership is mutually beneficial.

Q: Who can serve as my faculty advisor? A: Any faculty member within the UMD system who is able to receive teaching credit for the required scholarly paper credit (CONS798 Research Papers in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology) can serve as a faculty advisor. UMD professors at remote campuses (such as Frostburg, UMBC, UMCES) are also acceptable choices. Postdocs and PhD students could serve as an advising mentor, as long as Karen or their advisor is willing to be the instructor on record so that the CONS student can obtain the required scholarly paper credit. Adjunct faculty members, provided they have a PhD and can register for the academic credit, can also serve as advisors for CONS students.

Q: How long should the paper be? A: There is no page requirement for scholarly papers. You and your faculty advisor determine the length, quality, and format of the paper. The appropriate length of the document will depend on the format of your paper, which is directly related to your own professional goals and will vary among CONS students. Examples of possible scholarly paper documents include policy-focused white papers, meta-analyses or literature reviews, curriculum development portfolios, conservation case study analyses, or a research manuscript to be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The total length of the document is less important then the quality of synthesis and original thought that is captured within the final product.

*Please note that your submitted scholarly paper should represent your own work and original synthesis. If you are submitting a collaborative document, such as a paper created over the duration of an internship, or a multi-authored paper, you must clearly specify the section(s) that you have authored and that represent your own original thoughts. For more information, please download the latest requirements for the scholarly paper from the website.