Research Paper for Biology 301: Vertebrate Zoology

 Successful completion of a term paper that serves as a literature review will constitute 15% of your overall grade for this course. The term paper will be of a scholarly style and format, and must be on an approved topic relating to vertebrate zoology (sign up for an approved topic on Canvas Discussions as discussed in class). Writing of the research paper serves to acquaint the student with literature searching, the breadth and depth of the primary literature, the synthesis and extrapolation of ideas, and the styles of scientific writing and formatting. 1. Look over the topics posted in lab during the first week, and consider which one(s) might interest you most. I’m happy to meet with you during office hours to discuss possible topics before you sign up, but bear in mind that topic selection opens for everyone on Canvas Discussions on Friday, Sept. 7 at 3 pm. Once you have signed up for a topic, start your search by looking for any associated summary review articles or other introductory literature. In many cases, the most recent review article will be several years old, and you will need to do additional literature searches to determine if there are newer, more recently published papers on your topic. Your goal for this paper is to review, summarize and synthesize the results of a minimum of 7 recent primary literature papers (i.e., within the last 10 years) related to your topic. One of these papers may be a summary review paper; the other 6 papers should be standard original papers presenting original data. The structure and form of such standard papers may vary a bit depending on the topic of interest, so if you have any concerns about whether your selected papers are appropriate, please ask me in advance of the final paper due date. 2. The list of citations in your review paper can serve as a guide for locating additional primary sources on your topic. The Mercer library system maintains a limited number of subscriptions to scientific journals, so it is quite likely that you will not find all (or even many) of the articles you need on the shelf or by e-journal access. Nevertheless, pdf scans are readily available through the interlibrary loan (ILL) system. Don’t procrastinate–it takes time (usually a few days, but sometimes up to several weeks) to receive materials through ILL. I will talk more about using Tarver’s electronic resources, especially the excellent online portal Web of Science. 3. Rough Drafts: You will need to bring three copies of your rough draft to your respective lab class on Monday, Oct. 15 or Wednesday, Oct. 17. This rough draft should include at least three pages of text that reflects your introduction, discussion, and/or conclusions relevant to your topic. During lab that week, you will perform peer-review editing in class, exchanging your paper with each of two other students who will in turn receive yours. Additional information on the peer-editing process (including the rubric you will use) will be provided the week of Sept. 24/26, in advance of the peer-editing labs three weeks later. After editing, students will return the drafts they have edited to their partners and receive those they have edited; at least one should be returned the same day to its author, and both should be returned no later than the following week. In addition, I will provide comments on one copy of your own draft and return it to you during lab on Oct. 29/31. It is then up to each student to decide whether changes recommended by peer-editors should be adopted, in conjunction with any suggestions and comments I make on your individual drafts. 2 4. Final Paper: A single hard copy of your paper, along with all required accessory materials (see below) must be turned in to me no later than 5 pm on Friday, Nov. 16 for all students. All papers are considered late after that point, and the penalty is one letter grade per regular school day (Monday-Friday). An electronic copy of the term paper (exclusive of cited articles and peer-review drafts and completed rubrics) is also due by 5 pm on Nov. 16. 5. The final draft will include all of the following, in the following order: a. a title page with your paper’s title, student name, date, course name and number. This page must also include your declared major (e.g., B.A. in Biology); b. an abstract page with a complete abstract, and a signed notation at the bottom of this page noting that the Mercer Honor Code has been observed; c. 5-7 pages of text; d. a reference page(s) (properly formatted–see below); e. photocopies or printouts of the actual first page (i.e., that includes title and abstract) of every article cited, taken as a representation of the actual article you possess in its entirety; f. both copies of peer-edited rough drafts with their completed rubrics; g. a copy of the term paper grade sheet. Additional requirements: • Photocopies must be from the relevant published article. Pages of titles and abstracts printed from Galileo or other literature search engines are not acceptable. • Do not add a running header (or footer) of your name or paper title on each page. • Number each page except the title page, i.e., there is no page number on the title page, the abstract page is page 2, and other pages (including reference pages) are numbered consecutively after that. In Microsoft Word this can be set by going to Insert ® Page Numbers, and then unchecking the box “Show number on first page”. Page numbers should be centered at the bottom of each page.  

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