Weekly Assignments

To facilitate discussion, each week students will submit two questions (one for each paper) to be discussed in class. The questions may be about the data, experimental design, methods, or authors' interpretation of the results. Students will submit the questions to the instructor prior to class.

Written Assignment (due Week 9)

Students will prepare a 2–3 page written proposal of follow-up experiments related to any of the papers covered in Weeks 1–8. The proposal should briefly summarize the main finding of the paper, identify a remaining question to be addressed, discuss the method proposed for answering this question, and the biological insight that could be gained from this study. More importantly, discussion of method should also include controls, anticipated results, potential pitfalls, and alternative approaches.

Oral Assignment (presented in the final class meeting in Week 15)

Students will select one paper from the primary research literature and prepare a 15–minute PowerPoint presentation, which will take place during the last meeting of the class. Papers may be related to any of the topics covered in class, but cannot include any papers covered in class. The presentation should provide a critical analysis, rather than just a summary, of the data, the controls, and the published interpretations. The presenter should also discuss the relevance of the paper to the course topic and the field, whether the authors' conclusions were justified, as well as suggestions for improved analyses, or future research on the topic described in the paper. Paper selections should be approved by Week 12.