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GO/SC 103 Assignment 3
Scientific Inquiry
Due: 11/14
Percent of your grade for this class: 10%
Goal: Understand the process of scientific inquiry and how it is presented in a peer-reviewed
journal article
Instructions: Answer the highlighted questions, and submit this on eCampus. The percent of
your grade associated with questions appears in parentheses. Save this document in your files
(personal computer, external drive, or University network folder). You may benefit from taking
notes as you read the article and peer reviews of the article.
Section 1 – Article Breakdown (4%)
You will learn how to read a peer-reviewed journal article in this section. This will help you in
the future if you have to read journal articles for your major. A journal article is published in an
academic journal that usually specializes in some field, like natural hazards. Scientists conduct a
study, and then submit their work in an article format. The basic elements of an article are
covered in this section. We will use “Article.pdf” on eCampus to demonstrate the various
sections of an article.
The abstract is a summary of the article. The purpose of the article and its importance should be
communicated. A central hypothesis of the work may be indicated in the abstract. An overview
of the methods used to investigate the hypothesis should be provided, as well as key results,
interpretations of those results, and, finally, limitations of the study that may guide future work.
Answer the following questions on the abstract of the article provided on eCampus.
1) What is the purpose of the study, and how do the authors highlight its importance?

The purpose of this study is to highlight the usefulness of models to accurately depict
flooding potentials. Since flooding is thought to be more prone due to global warming
it is important that these models work well to decrease damages.
2) Can you derive a hypothesis from the abstract? If so, what is it? (0.2)

That early predictions of potential flood damages using models will show the
difference between higher and lower emission pathways as well as helping plan
around flood prone areas.
3) What is your sense of the methods from the abstract? Summarize what you understand
below. (0.1)

To be honest, I don’t understand much about these models but I understand the
4) Results are facts derived from an analysis. What is a fact that the authors derived from
their analysis? (0.1)
“We use hydrologic projections based on the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase
5 (CMIP5) to estimate changes in the frequency of modeled 1 % annual exceedance
GO/SC 103 Assignment 3
probability (1 % AEP, or 100-year) flood events at 57 116 stream reaches across the
contiguous United States (CONUS).”

5) How have the authors interpreted the above result to influence policy decisions? (0.2)

By implementing the factor of money and that there is a possibility to save money,
this will always influence policy decisions.
6) Any study should acknowledge limitations of the work. What is a limitation
acknowledged by the authors of this study? (0.2)

The limitation is the future work needed to test the sensitivity of the results to the
methodological choices.
The introduction is an opportunity to (1) highlight the importance of the research area, (2) review
the status of the science in a particular area, and (3) explain how the proposed study contributes
to the science on a subject. Read the introduction in the article on eCampus to answer the
following questions.
7) What is a fact that the authors use to highlight the importance of their research area?

8) Describe the two major strategies to link flooding to climate change. Why have the
authors chosen to use future projections? (0.3)

9) How do the authors argue that the study will contribute to the science on inland
flooding? (0.1)

A basic understanding of the methods is required to understand the results. However, you should
not expect to understand all the methods in an article, unless you are a researcher in the given
field. The methods describe how the research was conducted. You need only understand the
basics for our purposes in this class. Methods cover (1) the study area, (2) data used in the study,
(3) analytical approaches, and (4) uncertainties of the analysis. Answer the following questions
using the methods section in the article on eCampus.
10) Where is the study taking place (i.e. what is the study area)? (0.1)

11) What data are the authors using to project future flooding? (0.1)

12) In “Modeling flood probability” (section 2.2), the authors explain how they estimate if a
flood happens in a given year. What data do they use to do this? (0.1)

GO/SC 103 Assignment 3
13) In sections 2.3.1 and 2.3.2, the authors explain how they estimate monetary damages on
a yearly basis. This consists of two major components: (1) a flood zone map (1% AEP)
and (2) yearly flood projections (i.e. if a stream floods or not in a given year). How is
this information combined to estimate the cost of flooding each year? (0.1)

14) What is a major source of uncertainty that the authors identify (see section 2.4)? (0.1)

Results summarize the facts learned from the analysis. These are often organized into sections
that can vary depending on the study. Each section covers some facet of the analysis, and
highlights key findings, which are often communicated in figures and tables. Use the results
sections in the article on eCampus to answer the following questions.
15) How have the authors summarized their results in Figure 5? What is the major finding
of this figure? (0.2)

16) Figure 6 shows changes in flood frequency. Summarize the two scenarios that the
authors are comparing. How do floods change based on these two scenarios? (0.4)

17) What is a region where floods are likely to increase in both scenarios (see Figure 6)?

18) What does Figure 7a show? How do the trends in the two scenarios differ? (0.2)

19) What region has the most flood damage according to Figure 8? (0.1)

Discussion is interpretations of results. Interpretations may explain results (i.e. why did a
particular result occur?). Authors may make inferences based on results, which should be backed
up by some logic. For instance, the authors of the flooding study might state that damage in the
future could be mitigated (reduced), if flood control measures are implemented in the 1% flood
zone. The discussion should also link results from the present study to prior studies. This is
intended to substantiate results and back up conclusions. Based on the outcomes of the study, the
authors may suggest future work to improve our understanding of the subject. Read the
discussion (section 4) in the article on eCampus to answer the following questions.
20) Which scenario has the least flooding? Based on this, what do the authors suggest to
reduce flooding damage in the future? (0.2)

21) Why were the authors unable to link their results to prior studies? (0.1)
GO/SC 103 Assignment 3

22) What are two possibilities for future work that the authors suggest? How do these
suggestions relate to the uncertainties previously discussed in section 2.4? (0.3)

23) What is a limitation to improve flood projections in future studies? How can this
limitation be addressed? (0.2)

24) What is the largest uncertainty of the study (see final paragraph)? How might this
uncertainty alter future flooding (provide an example if necessary)? (0.2)

Section 2 – References (1%)
References are the foundation of a study. They are used to build upon previous work. A study
should reference articles from peer-reviewed journals, like Natural Hazards and Earth System
Sciences. References may also include government publications, which may undergo an internal
peer-review process. If absolutely necessary, you may see references from private organizations,
like companies, that have performed some analysis related to the study. Examine the references
section and how references are used in the text of the paper on eCampus to answer the following
25) In the references section, what are the basic components of a reference to a peerreviewed journal article? (0.1)

26) Where are most of the references from in the article (e.g. websites, journals,
government agencies, companies, etc.)? Based on your examination of the references,
what are the two most important sources for references in a scientific study? (0.3)

27) A references section is useful for cross-referencing (i.e. identifying additional sources on
a subject). How does the present study relate to the third reference at the following
link? (0.1)

28) In-text references are those which appear in the text of the article. If the authors of a
study use information from a reference, they cite the authors and year of the reference
in the text. What is an in-text reference in the introduction? Quote the sentence and
provide the full reference below. (0.2)

29) In the introduction, explain how the authors use three in-text references. How are these
references related to the study? (0.3)

Section 3 – Collaboration (1%)
GO/SC 103 Assignment 3
Collaboration is required of many studies in the physical sciences, given the various fields of
expertise and wide-ranging datasets required to complete a study. This is why you will often see
a list of authors associated with a single study. Examine the authors, affiliations, and consider the
overall structure of the study on eCampus to answer the following questions.
30) Generally, what fields have been combined in this study? (0.2)

31) Review the affiliations of the authors. Where do the authors work, and what does this
generally say about their different areas of expertise? (0.2)

32) One of the authors works at a private firm (Abt Associates). Look up information about
that firm online, and explain why this person may be involved in this study. (0.1)

33) In total, there are ten authors. Why do you think there are so many? Provide two
possible reasons. (0.2)

34) Identify three datasets that were used or generated in the study, and how that may
require collaboration from various disciplines. (0.3)

Section 4 – Peer Review (4%)
Peer review is the process of receiving feedback on a study from a group of experts. The authors
revise the study based on the feedback of reviewers. If the revisions successfully address the
reviewers’ concerns, then the study is published. Journals traditionally have a closed peer-review
process (i.e. not available to the public). However, some progressive journals are publishing the
peer-review process, including (1) the first draft, (2) reviewer comments, and (3) author
responses to comments and revised manuscript. We can learn from this process, which has been
published for the study on eCampus. The study is published in the journal Natural Hazards and
Earth System Sciences, which follows an open peer-review process outlined at the link below:
35) Based on the link, summarize the steps of the peer-review process at the journal. How
does this differ from a traditional, closed peer-review process? (0.6)

36) What are two types of comments in the journal that you can view online? (0.2)

Next, we will access the reviewer comments. Reviewers are recruited by the journal editor, and
should be experts in a field related to the study. Reviewers can choose to be anonymous. In the
study on eCampus, one of the reviewers chose not to be anonymous, and we can review their
qualifications at the link below:
GO/SC 103 Assignment 3
37) What is the person’s research specialty? Would you say this qualifies them to review a
study on flooding? (0.2)

Two reviewers commented on the flood study we have been examining (see “Reviewer_1.pdf”
and “Reviewer_2.pdf” on eCampus). Both of these follow the general structure of a peer review.
38) How is a peer review structured? What are the two main sections? (0.2)

39) Based on reviewer 1, what are two strengths and two weaknesses of the study? (0.4)

40) Based on reviewer 2, what are two strengths and two weaknesses of the study? (0.4)

41) Where do the two reviewers generally agree? Where do they disagree? (0.2)

42) What do the specific comments generally address? Provide an example to illustrate
what you mean. (0.2)

The authors of the study have responded to the reviewers in “Response.pdf” on eCampus.
43) Describe the three major components of a response to a peer review. (0.3)

44) Based on the letter to the editor (Dr. Tarolli), what is a major change to the article, and
how did the authors implement that change? (0.2)

45) In response to the first reviewer, what are two major changes to the article? How do
these align with the weaknesses you previously identified? (0.4)

46) Answer the same questions as above based on the response to the second reviewer. (0.4)

47) In the tracked changes (red, marked-up version of article), why do you think the
authors changed the title in this way? (0.1)

48) Based on the tracked changes, how did the abstract change? (0.1)

49) In a typical class, you submit a paper and receive a grade. How does this differ from the
peer-review process? (0.1)

GO/SC 103 Assignment 3

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