Before each class, students should submit at least one question regarding each article that will be discussed. Questions should indicate that the student is familiar with the reading material and has some understanding of the material. Questions may be about the data, the methods used or the subject matter of the articles. Questions will be discussed/addressed during class.
Instructors will distribute the experimental parts of a research paper (materials and methods, figures, tables and results) omitting the title, abstract, introduction, and discussion. Your task will be to write an abstract and title for the paper. Your abstract should be concise (250–400 words), must summarize the major results of the research paper in a language that non-specialists in the field will understand, and should clearly state the significance and broader impact of the findings (the last 1–2 sentences). This title and abstract must be your original work. Although we will give you articles that are not easily identifiable, you must not look up the paper and consult the original abstract and title. This exercise aims to develop your ability to judge original data and understand what it means and why it is important.
Instructors will select ~10 papers from those covered in class during the semester. Students should pick one of these papers by the end of the 12th week of class. The goal is for students to identify NEXT STEPS based on chosen study: if you were the first author, what would you do next? What are remaining/emerging questions, and how would you go about addressing them? Students will give a 10 min presentation followed by 5min of discussion with the class. The presentation should address the following (roughly in order): What are the key biological processes being studied. What has been shown previously? What issues does the student want to understand? Most importantly, how would he/she go about doing that in a well controlled manner (very broad strokes here, we are not interested in protocols)? What are likely outcomes and interpretations? We will not be looking for a specific answer or approach. We are more interested in getting students to think creatively and critically about a specific scientific issue of their choosing.