Botany, Biology 360 Fall, 2001
Research Paper Assignment
No experiment can be considered complete until it is written up (and published, but we cannot ask you to go quite that far). Therefore, you are expected to write about your selection experiment in the same fashion as any scientist writes about his or her work.
Writing is an important part of science as new data and discoveries are essentially useless until communicated to other scientists. Writing about science is, however, different from writing in many other fields. A second purpose of this assignment is to become familiar with the standard format and style of a scientific paper.
II. General format
The paper is to be written in the style and format of a research article that would be published in The American Journal of Botany. An example will be provided.
A. Title page - An informative title printed in capital letters followed by your name and the date.
B. Abstract - The abstract is a summary of the introduction, methods, results, and discussion sections written after the rest of the paper is finished. The purpose is to provide enough information so that a reader will know the purpose of your research and what the major results and conclusions were. 200 words is usually long enough.
C. Introduction - The introduction should explain why your research is important, define the issue to be considered, provide a brief general background, briefly list the problems in the field and then identify the specific questions that the paper will address. Your introduction should start broadly and then narrow to focus on the specific problems your paper will address.
For this experiment, you should explain, briefly, what can be gained from doing selection experiments, justify why you have picked an interesting trait, and explain why your plant is a good model organism. You should end with your specific question - does x respond to selection.
B. Methods - This section provides details about experimental protocols and the sites and organisms used for the study. Explain your protocol completely. How were the plants cultured? What was your sample size? Describe your trait. How was the trait measured? How did you perform pollinations? How did you measure selection?
C. Results - This section includes text (explaining what results were found or how the results from the literature back up your ideas), tables, and figures that present the data that can be used to address the questions you have posed. This is not the place to interpret the data. However, all of the facts that can be used to answer your questions must be included here. Provide a simple, clear explanation of the results. A collection of tables or figures is not adequate. The text of the results section must present the major findings and direct the reader to the tables and figures. E.g., The mortality of juniper seedlings varied directly with temperature (Fig. 1). As temperature increased, soil moisture decreased, with concomitant death of seedlings.
D. Discussion - In this section, use the data presented in the results to answer the questions posed in the introduction. Explain how and why the data do or do not answer the questions that you identified in the introduction. The first part of the discussion should mirror the introduction, by restating the major questions. One you have dealt with the specific questions, then broaden the discussion to include larger issues. What kinds of questions remain? What kinds of further study have been suggested? Briefly discuss how your results compare to other, similar studies. Why are your results similar or different to those in the
literature? Try to put the information you have gathered into a general context.
E. Literature cited - a listing of the references cited in the paper. Use the format of the example paper provided. The required number of references is listed below. Note that all of the references in this list must be cited in the body of the paper and all references used in the body of the paper must be listed here.
IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FORMAT OF ANY OF THESE SECTIONS
PLEASE CONSULT WITH DIANE OR JERUSHA.
A. References - Part of this assignment is for you to learn to access the primary research literature in botany. Your paper must contain at least 10 references to the literature and at least 5 of those must be references to primary research literature reported in the last 5 years (1996-2001). The other 5 references may be primary literature, review articles or specialized books. They may not be text books, encyclopedias, or articles written for non-scientists. Articles in Bioscience cannot count as primary literature. You may use references from web-based peer reviewed journals. However, you may not cite web pages as your references.
1. Cite the references in the text in the same format as in the example paper provided, i.e., (Marshall, Levin, and Fowler, 1986).
2. The literature cited section should be in the same form as used in American Journal of Botany. A paper from that journal will be provided as an example. No other citation format is acceptable.
Marshall, D.L., N.L. Fowler, and D.A. Levin. 1985. Plasticity in yield components in natural populations of three species of Sesbania. Ecology 66: 753-761.
This format is:
Author. Year. Title. Journal Volume:pages.
B. Length - Your paper should have 5-10 double-spaced typed pages of text (no smaller than 10pt font). I will not accept papers that have more than 10 pages of text pages or that are not typed. The page limit includes all of the text, but does not include the tables, figures, and literature cited.
C. Due dates - Outlines and annotated reference list due October 25. Completed paper due
December 6. No late papers will be accepted. You must turn in the outline and reference
list in October to get credit for the final paper in December.
D. Grading - 15% of grade is based on the outline and annotated reference list; 85% of grade is based on the completed paper. However, if you do not turn in an outline and annotated bibliography, I will not accept the completed paper.
III. Strategies for finding references - REREAD THE LAB HANDOUT ON USING THE
1. Try looking in your text or other botany texts for preliminary information. The references you find here may be rather old.
2. Use Science Citation Index (SciSearch) to find more recent articles that reference the literature cited in your text. This data base is on the web and is freely accessible from any UNM computer.
3. Look for a review article in Annual Reviews of Ecology and Systematics, Evolutionary Biology, Advances in Ecological Research, or Quarterly Review of Biology. These are usually long articles that provide an in depth review of specific topics
4. Books may be helpful to put the questions into a general context, but remember that finding books on the subject is not your primary goal. You should be looking for research articles.
5. The most recent articles will not yet be listed in Biological Abstracts or Science Citation Index. So, you may wish to check out the table of contents in the most recent issues of major journals. For example, if most of the older articles on your question are found in Ecology, look for articles in the most recent issues of Ecology.
6. Some of the journals that are likely to be helpful are:
Ecology Ecological Monographs Oecologia
Evolution The American Naturalist Evol. Ecology Research
Oikos Journal of Ecology Annals of Botany
American Midland Naturalist New Phytologist Am. Journal of Botany Heredity
Theoretical and Applied Genetics Crop Science International Journal of Plant Science
A. Why are selection experiments interesting/important?
B. What is interesting about the trait you chose?
C. Why is Brassica rapa a good model organism?
D. Specific question you will address
A. Describe growing conditions and total sample size
B. What was your measurement method?
C. How did you select plants and perform crosses?
D. How did you treat the F1 generation?
A. Summarize data from generation 1
B. Summarize data from generation 2
C. Comparisons across lines and generations
A. First remind the reader of the big question and how the specific questions fit, then...
B. Answer your specific question(s) using your data
C. What are the limits of your study?
D. Compare your data to data in the literature
E. Use information from the literature to interpret your data
F. Missing pieces in this area of study
1. What kinds of data were missing from the literature
2. What other kinds of data should be collected
G. Future studies
1. What studies should be done in this field
What do your data contribute to an understanding of the big question at the
beginning of your paper?
I. Annotated reference list
A. List your references ( a minimum of 10) in proper format.
These references must all be in AJB format.
These references must all be relevant to your question.
B. For each reference, give the following
3. You must show how you will use the references, by citing them in your outline to
show where they apply.
You cannot use a citation unless you have read the article. If you will need to use interlibrary loan, make your request early. In virtually every case you can find sufficient relevant articles in the UNM library.
CHECKLIST FOR THE PAPER
___ 1. Typed
___ 2. 5-10 pages of text
___ 3. Title page included
___ 4. Abstract, about 200 words - this is a summary of all parts of the paper
___ A. Why are selection experiments interesting/important?
___ B. What is interesting about the trait you chose?
___ C. Why is Brassica rapa a good model organism?
___ D. Specific question you will address
___ A. Describe growing conditions and total sample size
___ B. What was your measurement method?
___ C. How did you select plants and perform crosses?
___ D. How did you treat the F1 generation
___ A. Gave means for total generation 1 and high and low groups
___ B. Gave means for high and low group in generation 2
___ C. Statistically compared high and low group in generation 2
___ D. Described results objectively in the text
___ E. Lead the reader through any tables or figures
___ F. Wrote figure and table legends
___ G. Avoided interpretation of the results
___ A. First remind the reader of the big question and how the specific questions fit,
___ B. Answer your specific question(s) using your data
___ C. What are the limits of your study?
___ D. Compare your data to data in the literature
___ E. Use information from the literature to interpret your data
___ F. Missing pieces in this area of study
___ G. Future studies
___ H. Conclusions
9. Literature cited
___ A. 5 references from the primary literature from 1996-2001
___ B. At least 10 total citations
___ C. All references listed here are cited in the text
___ D. All references cited in the text are listed here
___ E. Proper format (see the American Journal of Botany for examples)
10. Proof reading
___ A. Do sentences make sense when read aloud?
___ B. Spelling, grammar
___ C. Does each paragraph have a topic sentence and is each paragraph about one topic?
___ 11. Are you happy with the paper