Literature in Biology (BIOL-30100)

Seminar discussions are based on readings and reports in current research literature. This course will discuss how to write and analyze scientific papers. Students will present research articles, critique written and oral presentations, and learn proper format for writing scientific papers. Prerequisites: BIOL 12100-12200, or BIOL 11900-12000; one other biology course. 2 credits. (F-S,Y)

A different professor with their chosen topic is offered
each semester

Fall 2012

Professor:Maki Inada

Topic:  Diseases:  Is it all in the genes?!

View the above link for the current syllabus.

Course Description:
This class will help you understand how to access scientific literature, how to read scientific papers, and how to convey scientific research both orally and in poster form as you might in a scientific meeting. These skills will help you in future classes and will help you become a more effective communicator overall.

Expected Learning Outcomes:

  1. conduct scientific literature searches
  2. understand major components of science papers and how to write them
  3. interpret figures and tables within scientific papers
  4. present scientific papers in oral and poster presentations
  5. critique oral presentations
  6. learn key biological concepts related to the course topic

Learning Outcome

Method of Assessing Outcome


Grading of literature search assignment


Evaluated during oral and poster presentations


Assessed from a graphing assignment and from student’s ability to understand the figures and tables in their selected presentation papers


Graded using evaluation presentation forms


Students will evaluate class presentations and give the presenter their evaluation forms


Instructor will take note of individual student discussion questions and the ability of each presenter to answer student and instructor questions (these will be scored on the presentation evaluation sheets)


Attendance is mandatory! Even if you are not making a presentation that day, you are expected to listen to your classmates’ talks, to participate in discussion, and offer constructive criticism. Failure to attend class without a valid excuse will result in a 10% penalty in your final grade, two unexcused absences will result in failure. Coming to class late will be considered equivalent to not attending. Because of scheduling, presentations cannot be postponed except for valid excuses -not being prepared is not a valid excuse. Also note that cell phones, pagers, etc. are to be kept turned off during classes.

The college’s policy is that acceptable reasons for absence include 1) student illness, requiring the student to be bed-ridden; 2) death or serious illness in the immediate family; 3) appearance in court; 4) religious holidays. If you have to miss a class, you MUST inform me before the class if at all possible, but if not physically capable, then notify me as soon as possible afterwards. You can send me e-mail or phone my number (274-3511) to leave a message. Such notification does not guarantee my accepting your reason for absence, but failing to notify me guarantees that you will not be excused.


In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodation will be provided to students with documented disabilities on a case-by-case basis. Students must register with the Office of Academic Support Services and provide appropriate documentation to the college before any academic adjustment will be provided.

Academic Honesty:

All the work in this class must be your own, unless stated otherwise. Confirmed instances of academic misconduct will result in a zero for that test or assignment and referral to the school judiciary system. Please refer to the Student Handbook for a detailed description of the policies regarding student academic conduct.


Please be aware of plagiarism: if you take a sentence from someone else’s work and only change one or a couple of words, it is still plagiarism even if you cite the source. You must rewrite the information or ideas in your own words. Plagiarism is a serious offense of academic misconduct: check the student handbook and library website for details, but it can lead to judicial proceedings and even expulsion from the college. Each idea has to be referenced (and in the sentence where the idea appears), you cannot simply cite the reference once at the end of a paragraph containing many ideas from the same source. In such cases, you can avoid referencing each idea yet still indicate your source through careful writing, for example:

“Roberts and Janovy (1985) were the first to study this phenomenon. They found that...,further, when the... . Roberts and Janovy go on to state that... and their conclusion was....”


“Roberts and Janovy (1985) were the first to study this phenomenon. In the following paragraph, I will review their work. ....”

There are several places in this course where a student risks plagiarism, these are: the text that you use in your oral presentations and the text that you use in your poster presentation. You cannot take statements directly from your article and use them in your work. You must put these ideas and information into your own words (see pages 29 -30 of the course textbook, McMillan for more guidance). Most posters largely consist of very short sentences or bullets, so even if it was not plagiarism, taking sentences or passages from the article would make posters too long and adversely affect your grade. Using figures and tables from the original work in your presentations and posters will be acceptable in this course as long as you cite your sources properly.

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Page maintained and updated by Nancy Pierce
Last updated 10/2012