Astrophysics Data Service (ADS)
This is the premier source for astrophysics article searches, and is the font of all bibliographies. You will want to learn how to use this; I use it daily.
This search engine is powerful, which is good, but can be intimidating to the beginner. There are many bells and whistles, most of which you won't need (at least at first). The key field for your purpose will be the title and especially the abstract fields. To find relevant articles, use key words which are unique to your subject here. If you have mutiple words, use the and button. Or better, use phrases, which you enclose in double quotes (e.g.: "dark matter"). If the search gives too many responses to print, use another term to limit the search (e.g., with the and button on, type: "dark matter" experiment). If you do nothing, the results will just be sorted by date, the most recent first. However, you want the reviews and the seminal papers. To find these, you need to detect them by their popularity. The trick here is to scroll down to the "SORTING" part of the page. Change the sort field button from the default Sort by score to the Sort by citation count option. This will show the papers that are the most cited, which will be the most seminal (and/or controversial!) as well as the most popular reviews. Those are what you want. Particularly useful is anything listed as in "ARAA," which is the Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, which is just about the right level.
These are updated daily and thus are the most current sources possible. However, they also are for the most part technical papers, with only the occasional review. Do give this a try, but be sure to include the word "review" in the abstract field, in addition to other terms specific to your paper.
The paper is to be "in the style of a major astronomical research journal." In particular, please follow the style and formatting of the Astrophysical Journal, which is pretty much the industry standard, style-wise. Some useful ApJ pages include:
This article does a particularly nice job of focusing attention on the logical structure of scientific writing. Gopen and Swan's central argument is that readers approach an article with fairly fixed set of expectations regarding presentation logic, style, and structure; it then follows that writers are well-served by tailoring their papers to these expectations. Gopen and Swan illustrate gaps in logic that short-circuit expectations, and can make papers (written by good scientists and published in good journals) difficult to read. They note that these gaps can sometimes be filled in by experts, but often lead to unintended ambiguities in the arguments being made. Finally, they suggest a set of guidelines that writers keep in mind.
As Gopen and Swan themselves note, there is no immutable magic rule for good writing, and they refuse to refer to their own suggestions as "rules." Regardless of whether you agree with everything in their article, giving at a careful read does serve the purpose of focusing the mind on the importance of the large- and small-scale structures in a paper, and on ways of thinking about how to organize and create these structures.
The following are selected quotes from the campus policy regarding student academic integrity:
"The University has the responsibility for maintaining academic integrity so as to protect the quality of education and research on our campus and to protect those who depend upon our integrity. It is the responsibility of the student to refrain from infractions of academic integrity, from conduct that may lead to suspicion of such infractions, and from conduct that aids others in such infractions."
"Students have been given notice of this rule by virtue of its publication. Regardless of whether a student has actually read this rule, a student is charged with knowledge of it. Ignorance of a rule is never a defense." [emphasis added]Plagiarism itself is defined as
Representing the words or ideas of another as one's own in any academic endeavor. This includes copying another student's paper or working with another person when both submit similar papers to satisfy an individual, not a group, assignment, without authorization."
Note that plagairism can occur not only when direct quotation is made without attribution, but also when paraphrase and even borrowed facts are used without proper citation. Moreover, If you have even the slightest doubt about what constitutes plagiarism, please consult the instructor before turning in the assignment.
The web is an invaluable reserach tool if used thoughtfully, and you should make use of it in writing your report. On the other hand, the quality and accuracy of material found on the web is of notoriously uneven quality. Thus, you will want to be exceedingly cautious in using material found on the web and otherwise unpublished.
As with a published research paper, your paper should be grounded in the refereed literture. Here, the web is invaluable in allowing rapid searches to be made to try to identify the relevant literature, and often to even download relevent papers. Also, there is other valuable scientific content online which one may want to use and cite. Many such sites appear on the links page of this course.
On the other hand, you should be very cautious about basing your paper on material in your paper that appears only on an unrefereed website with no supporting literature. Such references would not pass muster in journal articles. and should not form the basis of your report. That said, you may find useful material online which does help you prepare your paper, and in that case you should cite your sources, if only out of honesty. But anything you find online should be backed up with a refereed source.