In this WI class, the main focus is on three types of writing assignments, namely scientific writing exercises, the formal report, and the group proposal. Writing assignments are word-processed documents that are written in third-person narrative using complete sentences, proper English spelling and grammar, and correct use of scientific terminology. The use of scientific graphing programs for computer-generated graphs is encouraged. Hand-written calculations or graphs that are neatly written in ink, however, are also acceptable. For each assignment, students will be provided with specific rubrics outlining the specific exercise format and grading expectations for each report. Students will be graded based on clarity and quality of writing, scientific content, data presentation and organization, and interpretation of results. Students will also be graded on whether answers to additional questions are coherent and argued in a logical manner. 1. Weekly laboratory scientific writing exercises (total of 5 individual assignments, due once a week). The length of each assignment will vary depending on the specific exercise (one and a half spaced using standard fonts of 11 or 12 point with margins of 1 inch for top and bottom; and 1.2 to 1.5 inches for left and right). Objectives The objectives of each scientific writing exercise are to ensure that students: a) learn the proper format of all major sections of a scientific paper b) comprehend the experiments and background information on biochemical topics covered that week in the experimental laboratory section of the class c) understand how to present and analyze data from different types of experiments and subsequently interpret results using critical thinking and reasoning d) effectively express concepts and results clearly and concisely. Furthermore, these exercises introduce students to scientific writing. Importantly, the general format of the scientific writing exercises serves as model for formal reports, thus preparing students for writing the longer and more detailed formal report (see below). Scientific writing exercises are graded by the TA or the instructor. There are five types of scientific writing exercises that will be covered in the class: introductions, materials and methods, results, discussions, and figures. Scientific writing exercises are written in scientific writing style and format. Each exercise will be relevant to the laboratory work performed that week, and will include a title, answers to additional questions raised in the laboratory manual that are relevant to experiments meant to deepen the students understanding of the topic covered in that week, as well as the following information listed below for each type of exercise: 1) The introduction (one each semester) will contain a literature review performed by the students to discuss the history and relevance of each laboratory experiment, relevant background information as well as a clearly written objective for that weeks topic examined in the laboratory. The introduction will also include a reference list in a format utilized by many scientific journals. 2) The materials and methods (one each semester) includes the proper format utilized in scientific literature including the materials, potential sources of the materials including company catalog numbers, and a detailed protocol of the experimental procedure that was utilized in that weeks laboratory section. 3) The results (one each semester) includes experimental raw data collected throughout the lab period, graphs (reduced from raw data) and relevant calculations important to interpret results. Data and graphs will be presented in the appropriate tabular or graphical manner as requested in lab manuals. In addition, students describe their findings in written statements in one or two paragraph. 4) The discussion (one each semester) includes interpretations and discussions of obtained results. If results diverge from expectation, students should include alternative explanations or hypotheses here. 5) The figures (one each semester) includes presentation of multiple forms of data in a visual representation often used in scientific literature. Students are expected to create professional quality images generated from data obtained during the experimental portion of the course. Formal laboratory report (one draft and one revised final formal report on selected experimental topic not covered by scientific writing exercises) Length of each report: 10-15 pages (one and a half spaced using standard fonts of 11 or 12 point with margins of 1 inch for top and bottom; and 1.2 to 1.5 inches for left and right) In addition to those described for the scientific writing exercises (see above), objectives for the formal report are to get students acquainted with formal scientific writing and to teach them how to compose a scientific paper using their own experimental data. Furthermore, students will learn how to write concisely and clearly, so that peers can understand their reasoning and can follow and reproduce described experimental procedures. For the formal report, students will compose a draft version that is reviewed by the instructor and one of the class mates (peer-review) to provide constructive criticism. Students will incorporate suggestions and corrections provided by instructor (and if applicable, by peer), thus improving the quality of the report. Students will then return the revised draft version as the final formal report that will be graded by the instructor. The formal report will be composed in a formal scientific writing style and format consisting of the following sections: title, abstract, introduction, materials and methods, results, discussion and references. More specifically, 1) The title is a brief heading describing the weekly experimental topic. 2) The abstract provides a concise summary of objective, material and methods, results and conclusions (250-300 words). 3) In the introduction, background information is provided, so that the reader is able to understand the topic of interest and the objective of the experiments, namely the reason for why the experiment was performed. 4) Materials and methods provide the detailed outline of the experimental procedure, so that peers can use this protocol to perform the described experiment. Any deviation from the original protocol must be clearly stated. 5) The result section includes experimental raw data collected throughout the lab period, graphs (reduced from raw data) and any relevant calculations important to interpret results. Data and graphs must be presented in the appropriate tabular or graphical manner as outlined in lab manuals and must include Figure legends. Every graph or table must be referred to in the text as Figure 1 or Table 1, etc. In addition, students must describe their data (findings) in written statements in paragraph format. 6) In the discussion, conclusions are drawn based on obtained data (shown in result section) by correlating data and expected results (hypothesis). If applicable, i.e. if results diverge from expectations, students should provide possible explanation in this section. This section also contains the answers to additional questions raised in lab manual to expand the students understanding of the topic of interest. 7) References are listed using standard methods for referencing (author, year, title, journal, volume, page number) in a consistent manner. References should be cited throughout the text. In conclusion, the estimated total page-count based on 5 weekly scientific writing exercises (not revised) a formal report (revised), and a group proposal are 48.5 to 70 pages. This calculation is based on: Scientific writing exercises = 12.5 to 20 pages [2.5 to 4 pages x 5 scientific writing exercises, not revised] Formal reports = 20 to 30 pages [10-15 pages x 1 formal report, (1 draft and 1 final Formal Reports) 10-15 pages x 2] Group proposal (See ?Group Writing?) = 16 to 20 pages [8-10 pages x 1 group proposal, (1 draft and 1 final proposal); 8-10 pages x 2] Additional Writing: In addition to the Result and Formal Reports, this WI class incorporates two additional types of writing assignments, the Lab notebook and peer-reviews. 1) Lab notebook (bound composition book) (mostly hand-written; more than 50 pages) One of the objectives of this informal writing assignment is to ensure that students come prepared to each lab class. To this end, students are required to write condensed but concise outlines of experimental procedures and to outline tables into this Notebook prior to arriving to each lab class. This assignment will enable students to identify possible problems or questions regarding experimental procedures in advance. Furthermore, this exercise highlights the role of laboratory notebooks as an essential scientific tool to ease data collection during the lab class period and to explore ideas or thoughts related to experiments. Students will also be introduced to the importance of keeping a comprehensible notebook because they are able to utilize their notebooks during their practical laboratory exam. Notebooks will be spot-checked periodically during class periods and collected at the middle and at the end of the semester. Notebooks will be graded by the instructor for clarity and completeness of experimental outline and data collection. 2) Peer reviews of Draft version of Formal Laboratory report (one per semester), and a group peer review of the draft version of the research proposal. Length: one to two pages (1 1/2-spaced using standard fonts of 11 or 12 point with margins of 1 inch for top and bottom; and 1.2 to 1.5 inches for left and right) The objective of these peer-reviews is to teach students how to provide constructive criticism of a manuscript. Furthermore, students will learn how to use the peer-review process to assimilate and improve on their own writing, data presentation and interpretation of their formal report. Students will review a draft formal report of one of their colleague students based on peer-review guidelines provided with a copy of a draft report. Students will also work within a group to peer review a draft proposal. The instructor will grade these assignments for clarity of the review and constructiveness of their criticism.
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