Research Project: Systematic Review BIOL 3200 ECOLOGY

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Research Project: Systematic Review

BIOL 3200 ECOLOGY

Introduction
Purpose: A critical component of science is being able to synthesize and communicate information.
Regardless of your path in life, being able to analyze and integrate evidence; display information in a
meaningful, easily accessible manner; and adjust your work based on comments from others will help
you communicate with your colleagues, patients, audience, and so on more effectively. As a biology
major, you will conduct a senior thesis, which includes writing a scientific paper. The article for this
course provides you with an opportunity to learn/practice scientific writing in a more condensed
format (akin to a “Short Communication” in the scientific literature). Through the process of
synthesizing the literature in a systematic review article, you will:
(1) deepen your knowledge of an ecological principle or theory
(2) increase your confidence in analyzing and synthesizing the primary literature
(3) develop your skills in communicating complex scientific ideas
(4) improve your oral, written, and visual communication skills through the revision process and evaluation
of your peers’ work
Summary: The final product for this project will be a professional-style scientific article created to engage an
audience of your peers. You will investigate an ecological topic of your choice by developing a hypothesis,
analyzing the primary literature, and synthesizing the literature in order to test your hypothesis. You will create
and revise a graphical abstract summarizing your findings in a professional format using Adobe InDesign. There
are four main parts of this project, which have been designed to help you navigate the process of creating a
professional, dynamic, and scientifically intriguing research paper. Please put these dates in your calendar or
planner ASAP (preferably now)!!! Additional information will be provided regarding each assignment as the
semester progresses.
Due date Assignment Possible points Percent of total
Sep 25 Part 1 – Hypothesis & Lit Review A 30 20%
Oct 23 Part 2 – Lit Review B & Synthesis 35 23.3%
Nov 13 Part 3 – Graphical Abstract (Critique) 35 23.3%
Nov 27 Part 4 – Final Presentation (Critique) 50 33.3%

Total points possible 150

Part 1 – Hypothesis & Literature Review A Possible points: 30
In this first step, you will locate and analyze the primary literature (peer-reviewed, original research articles). An
annotated bibliography is an excellent way to analyze the literature for any research project, whether you are

doing “reconnaissance” for your senior thesis research project, writing a review article for publication in a peer-
reviewed journal, or writing a science news article. An annotated bibliography is list of articles where each

citation is followed by a brief evaluation of the article content. Finally, you will synthesize the findings into a
single thesis statement.
In order to create this literature review, you will need to:
(1) Do a general search first to figure out what you are interested and would like to explore more. Take a
close look at the learning objectives for this course, flip through your book, read some popular science
articles (National Geographic, Scientific American, science news outlets, etc.), and/or watch clips from
nature documentaries. Then start perusing the scientific literature casually to narrow down your

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research question. This part isn’t meant to be systematic; it just gives you some key words to search for
and helps you narrow your question down, so it manageable.
(2) Once you have your research question, define the search words you will use to find 10+ primary
literature articles (see details below) and the parameters that you will use to select the papers. These
are your methods J, so write them down and be prepared to explain your rationale for choosing them.
(3) Locate relevant primary literature articles (peer-reviewed research articles with original data collection).
Check for a methods section, if there is any confusion. Many students first identify review articles, which
summarize the current knowledge on a given topic. That is what you are trying to do with YOUR article.
DO NOT choose reviews for your annotated bibliography and DO NOT use a published review article as
the basis for your own paper. That is plagiarism. You must develop your own hypothesis, find your own
papers, and synthetize the results in a meaningful, unique way. Primary research articles include original
data analysis. They should include a description of methods and results. You can use the literature cited
section of review papers to help you identify candidate papers. Google Scholar also has a “Cited by XXX”
link for each article that will take you to a list of more recent papers that have cited the original article.
Choose at least 5 articles that are relevant to your evolutionary topic of interest to analyze further. You
should have at least 2 that have been written in the last 2 years. Upload PDFs of all 5 articles to WCR. I
can see all of your submissions, even if you submit several.
To find papers, use:
(a) For help getting started check out Finding and Using Data webinar:
http://libguides.webster.edu/training/webinars or a quick YouTube video from the library on how to
use their resources: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwWfaOWHV4Y&feature=youtu.be
(b) Webster University Library “Quick Article Search” tool (http://library.webster.edu/) (see the
screenshot to the right)
(c) Webster University Library “Search multiple databases at once” tool
(http://library.webster.edu/databases/index.html) (see the screenshot below), which searches all
EBSCO databases, including Scopus or Science Direct.

(d) Google Scholar (https://scholar.google.com/). Within Google Scholar, you can track down newer
papers that have cited a given article (see screenshot below). This often helps to identify more
recent literature.

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If the library does not have an electronic version of your article of interest, you can often find it

by Googling the title (many authors make pdfs of their publications available) or through inter-
library loan using ILLiad. When you search via EBSCO on the Webster University Library website,

a list of potential papers pops up. If you select one that does not have a pdf on file at Webster,
there will be an “ArticleLinker” button to the left which will “Check Article Linker to see if full
text is available”. Follow the “REQUEST IT HERE” link to request a pdf through inter-library loan:
ILLiad. Contact me or the library if you have difficulty finding or requesting an article.

(4) Submit a single Word document with the following:
a) The complete reference information, formatted according the notes below, for each of the articles. I
recommend that you use Mendeley, free citation management software. It will help you greatly
during your senior thesis – you don’t have to type out all of your references! Check out the library’s
guide to using it: http://libguides.webster.edu/exercisescience/mendeley. To get started, you will
need to: create an account, download the program, add files to the program, download the Word
Plug in, and then insert the citations into your Word file. It will be a major time-savor!

b) A 300 word summary of each article. Since one of the goals of this project is to practice ‘translating’
complex scientific ideas for the general public, I want you to focus on explaining, in plain language,
the research goals, the experimental design, and the core findings of each article. Don’t get bogged
down in the methods and results sections! You don’t need a lot of detail on the methods; you only
need to have a broad sense for how they conducted their study in order to evaluate their

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experimental design (Are they able to test their specific hypotheses? What kind of controls do they
have? Are there any biases in the population they chose?). Spend more time digesting the results by
trying to understand each figure. You will evaluate a primary literature article during our first
literature discussion; use that experience to inform how you analyze the papers that you choose. I
encourage you to use the “Scientific paper evaluation form” as a guide. However, you DO NOT need
to submit those forms for this assignment (use them as a guide while writing your summary of each
article). For the annotated bibliography, you will summarize your analysis of each paper in the form
of a short paragraph describing the key components of the study (i.e., research goals, experimental
design, and core findings (aka what is cool about the study)).
c) Your hypothesis. Hypotheses are declarative statements that are testable, falsifiable, and imply a
mechanism. They sometimes come in the format: If…then…because or somethings similar. In
contrast, research questions are more general in nature, based on observations, and not necessarily
testable or falsifiable, and predictions are the specific outcomes you would observe if your
hypothesis is supported. Your hypothesis may change as you revise your study, but the more
thoughtful you are about your hypothesis, the better your synthesis will be and the easier it will be to
create your final product!
Examples of research questions:
• Are marigolds allelopathic? OR Do marigolds negatively affect asparagus beetles?
• Do iguanas perceive humans as a threat?
• Does sea lion population size affect territorial behavior?
Examples of Hypotheses
• If marigolds are allelopathic, marigolds will deter asparagus beetle populations when
planted alongside asparagus.
• Iguanas will exhibit stress responses when exposed to humans, because they perceive them
as a threat.
• If sealions are territorial, aggressive behaviors will increase with population density.
Examples of Predictions
• Asparagus plants planted alongside marigolds will host fewer asparagus beetles than
asparagus plants planted on their own.
• Cortisol levels will be higher in iguanas that are exposed to humans compared to those that
are not.
• Sealions will fight more frequently in larger populations relative to smaller populations
where competition is lower.
Literature cited format: modified APA
Journal papers:
Author(s) (Year) Title. Journal Name (Volume): Pages.
Specifically:
[First author last name] [Initials of first author’s first and middle name], and [Initials of second author’s first and middle
name] [second author last name] (Year Published) Article Title. Journal Name (Volume Number): Page Numbers.
• If it is an electronic journal, provide the electronic page number (e.g., e1000345) or the DOI (Digital Object
Identifier).
• All authors should be listed up through the first 6. If there are more than 6 authors, put “et al.” after the 6th
author. Literally, this means “and others” in Latin.
• DO NOT USE: n.p. or n.d. or n.a. in the literature cited. If there is no author, no date and/or no publisher, then
this is a poor source!
Examples:
Two authors:

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Berendse, F, and Scheffer, M. (2009) The angiosperm radiation revisited, an ecological explanation for Darwin’s
“abominable mystery”. Ecology Letters (12): 865–72
More than two authors:
Hu, S, DL Dilcher, DM Jarzen, and D Winship-Taylor. (2008) Early steps of angiosperm pollinator coevolution.
Proceedings of the National Acedemy of Sciences (105): 240–5

Evaluation criteria Points possible Points earned An exemplary analysis will do all of the

following

Literature submitted 5 (1 pt per paper) PDFs of all papers are submitted to WCR.
Literature analysis 20 (4 pts per paper) Each article is cited completely and in the
correct style. All papers (minimum of 5) are
explained very clearly, with the perfect amount
of detail to assess the quality of the paper. All
papers align with your hypothesis, and you
clearly explain whether and how each supports
your hypothesis.

Hypothesis 5 Makes a claim that is testable, clearly stated,
and specific. A mechanism is implied.

Total 30

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Part 2 – Literature Review B & Synthesis Possible points: 35
For the second part of this assignment, you will continue your literature review following feedback from your
instructor. You should have 5 additional sources. You also need to synthesize all 10 papers in preparation for
your graphical abstract and research article. One of the goals of this project is to help you learn to synthesize the
results from multiple papers. Known as a review “paper”, this requires significant thought regarding if and how
these 10 papers support your hypothesis. You will need to compare and contrast the results from the papers.
Search for patterns in the results and synthesize what they are. This synthesis should be at least 500-700 words.
However, it isn’t the length that is the most important thing. The ANALYSIS is the critical part. Provide specific
thoughts answering each of the questions below. Think of this as a discussion section, if you were writing a
scientific paper. Indeed, you may want to modify this for use in your final presentation of your paper.
• Overall, was your hypothesis supported? How (or not)?
• How many papers supported your hypothesis? How many did not?
• Specifically, which data from each paper support your hypothesis? Which do not?
• What factors influence whether your hypothesis is supported or not by the evidence?
• How do the results vary and why? Are some systems, species, etc. more sensitive or have unique
properties?
• How might the results of your analysis be biased? Are only some species, communities, biomes, etc.
included?
• What do these results mean in the broader sense? Are they generalizable to other systems or system
specific?
• How do your results integrate with what is already known? What new insights or angles do they add?
• What recommendations do you have for future scientists, land managers, etc.?
Evaluation criteria Points possible Points earned An exemplary analysis will do all of the

following

Literature submitted 5 (1 pt per paper) PDFs of all papers are submitted to WCR.
Literature analysis 20 (4 pts per paper) Each article is cited completely and in the
correct style. All papers (minimum of 5) are
explained very clearly, with the perfect amount
of detail to assess the quality of the paper. All
papers align perfectly with the thesis statement.
Synthesis 10 Makes a claim that is testable, clearly stated,
and specific. A mechanism is implied.

Total 35

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Part 3 – Graphical Abstract & Critique Possible points: 35
A. Graphical Abstract
It is time to get creative with some serious science communication! A graphical abstract is a visual
representation of your research. It is the epitome of “show, don’t tell”. It can contain images, charts, diagrams,
etc., but minimal text. Your graphic should clearly present your ideas in an easily interpretable format. Using the
synthesis that you created in Part 2, design a graphic that summarizes your key findings – both supporting and
refuting your hypothesis. You have already created and revised one infographic. Apply what you learned from
that process to creating an outstanding graphical abstract. For your final product (part 4), you will have text
supporting your graphical abstract, so you may want to consider what kind of information you will be able to
include there (e.g., more nuanced discussion) to help you make decisions on what should and should not be
covered in your abstract. I recommend that you create your graphic using Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign,
and submit your design electronically to Canvas as a PDF. All of these programs are available on the computers
in Webster’s computer labs. However, you may have to use a the VDI to access them (see the instructions on
page 9).
Tips for good infographics: Keep clutter
to a minimum (use negative space, aka
“blank” space) and have a clear flow
(from left to right and/or top to
bottom). Use simple color schemes and
a simple, logical narrative (stick to one
main point). Explore infographics online
to identify things that you think work
well and don’t. Use those as inspiration
for creating your own (but DON’T copy
them). Focus on the content. What are
you trying to convey? What images will
best represent the “characters” in your
narrative? What flow tells the clearest,
most logical narrative?
Figures and tables: Figures and tables
are essential, effective ways of
presenting data and other important
information in scientific presentations. It
is important to think about what you
want your readers to get out of your
work, and then to consider how these things could be better presented in tables and/or figures. Not all data are
easily understood if reported using words alone. Nor are all data best presented in figures or tables. Your
graphical abstract can include tables and figures, but use them sparingly. Any additional tables and figures can
and should be included in the results section of your final scientific paper presentation.
The following are some general guidelines for deciding when a figures or table is appropriate and how to
effectively create each.
TABLES
1. Use a table to present numerical values or to summarize/emphasize verbal material.
2. Tables should be numbered consecutively, separate from figures.
3. Table numbers and captions should be above the table.

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4. Table captions should include all of the information necessary to make them understandable on their
own (i.e. the reader should not need to read the entire document to understand the main point(s)
conveyed in the table).
5. Use a logical format in arranging the information.
6. Make the contents concise; only include important information.
7. Check tables for internal consistency and agreement with the rest of the paper. Make sure that table
numbers in the document match the actual table numbers.
8. Always use metric units in scientific papers/presentations.
Example:
Table 1. Mean daily water chemistry measurements for five sites along Huge Trout Creek, Virginia. Data
were recorded from 23 July 1999 to 12 September 1999. Sites were 1.2, 2.3, 3.7,4.5, and 6.1 km,
respectively, upstream from the confluence of the creek with Fat Bass River.

Site

Parameter 1 2 3 4 5
Temperature (°C) 22.0 20.6 19.3 17.9 16.8
pH 7.5 7.2 8.1 7.9 6.9
Dissolved Oxygen (mg/L) 6.2 6.6 7.1 8 8.5
FIGURES:
1. Use a figure to illustrate an important pattern, trend, or relationship.
2. Figures should be numbered consecutively, separate from tables.
3. Figure numbers and captions should be below the actual figure.
4. Figures should include all of the information necessary (complete caption, descriptive axes, and any
explanation necessary) to make them understandable on their own. Be sure to include measurement
units on the axes.
5. Plot data accurately and clearly.
6. Present data in a manner consistent with your hypothesis.
7. Figure backgrounds should be plain white without gridlines.
8. Always use metric units in scientific papers/presentations.
Example:

Figure 1. Relationship between mean daily discharge (m3/s) and total suspended solids (TSS; mg/L) in Huge
Trout Creek, VA. Data were recorded every day from 23 July 1999 to 12 September 1999 (R

2 = 0.95, p =

0.002).

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Additional support materials for graphical abstracts. Many of the examples in the links below use simple gifs
and “clip art”. However, since this assignment is meant to bring biology to life, feel free to use photographs, as
long as you use them wisely.
I recommend that you start here:
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/535bcb2fe4b05fe61b320c51/t/586fe712bebafb8c864f28f0/148
3728662763/VisualAbstract_Primerv1.pdf Great description of why and how to use graphical abstracts;
also explains some basic design principles
http://www.ivan.cash/infographic-of-infographics Great infographic on infographics!
http://crosstalk.cell.com/blog/attract-readers-at-a-glance-with-your-graphical-abstract “How to” from a
scientific publishing company
https://www.cell.com/pb/assets/raw/shared/figureguidelines/GA_guide.pdf “Before” and “after” diagrams
illustrating how to go from a mediocre to a good graphical design
https://www.elsevier.com/authors/journal-authors/graphical-abstract “How to” from another scientific
publishing company

https://www.methodspace.com/create-graphical-abstracts-to-reach-new-
audiences/https://www.cell.com/pb/assets/raw/shared/figureguidelines/GA_guide.pdf Good examples

of common design layouts
You may either include your own images, if you have relevant ones, or you may find them online. For any that
you find online, you must ensure that you are allowed to use the pictures under fair use laws. When searching
for images on Google, you can filter images that are “Labeled for reuse” or “Labeled for noncommercial reuse”
by selecting the Tools menu and selecting one or the other from the dropdown menu (see below).

Quick InDesign tips:
• Modify the frames to better fit your text and pictures
o Add frames using the frame tool in the toolbox on the right (your probably has a square around
the X)
o To change the size of the frame by dragging the corner or using [Object] => [Transform] => [Scale]
• DO NOT COPY AND PASTE your pictures
o Use [File] => [Place]
o To zoom in or change the scale of your picture within the frame, use [Object] => [Fitting]
Accessing InDesign: All of the computer labs on campus should have Adobe InDesign already installed on them.
In ISB 231, we have to switch from the Mac to the Windows portals using VDI. If you need them at a later date,

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you can access more detailed instructions for using VDI to access Windows & Adobe products on University Mac
computers here: http://www.webster.edu/technology/vdi/vdi_instructions_for_mac.html
Go to [Applications] in Finder and select [VMware Horizon Client].
Select or type in “vdi.webster.edu”. Then sign in using your Webster
username and password.
Then, open Adobe InDesign from the Start Menu and sign in using
your Webster username and password. When you are finished for the
day, REMEMBER TO SAVE YOUR FILE TO ONEDRIVE OR OTHER
LOCATION!!!! All work is deleted from these computers when they
restart, so you will need to make sure that you have saved your work
to a location that you can access later.

Evaluation criteria Points possible An exemplary analysis will do all of the following
Content 10 Content is accurate, specific, and intended to inform or convince the

viewer

Representations 6 Design elements are clearly informed by the content and support the

main message

Overall design 10 The overall design has a highly logical flow and clearly communicates

the message

Creativity 6 Clever and unique, illustrating a deep understanding of the material
Total 32

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B. Critique
After the assignment closes, you will be assigned 3 graphical abstracts to critique. You should receive an email for each
abstract to which you have been assigned. You will also be able to locate them within the Review Article Part 3 assignment.
Fill out the Graphical Abstract Evaluation Form for EACH ONE SEPARATELY and upload your file using the attachments link
located by the “Comments” textbox on the right side of the screen when you are viewing their abstract. Provide
THOUGHTFUL feedback to help your peers improve the effectiveness of their abstract. You will be graded on your feedback.
We will spend the rest of class discussing the strengths that we see and to provide constructive feedback to the group.
Evaluation criteria Points possible An exemplary analysis will do all of the following
Infographic evaluation
form

3 (1 pt per
infographic)

Evaluation forms are complete, and author has
provided substantial, tangible suggestions for
improvement and of encouragement.

Total 3

Graphical Abstract Evaluation Form
Author Name: Evaluator Name:
Evaluation criteria Exceptional Proficient Developing
Content Content is accurate, specific,
and intended to inform or
convince the viewer

Content is misleading or too
broad to allow the viewer to
understand the main points

Content and messaging are
unclear.

Representations Design elements are clearly
informed by the content and
support the main message

Design elements are
peripherally related to the
content and marginally support
the message

Design elements are not
related to the content and/or
do not support the message

Overall design The overall design has a highly
logical flow and clearly
communicates the message

The overall design has a
somewhat logical flow and
communicates the message

The overall design does not
have a logical flow and/or
does not communicate the
message

Creativity Clever and unique, illustrating
a deep understanding of the
material

Thoughtful and somewhat
unique,
illustrating understanding of
the material

Few to no original or
unique elements that
illustrate limited effort

1. Describe 2 strengths of the infographic and explain how the authors achieved them.

2. Describe 2 weaknesses of the infographic and provide specific, tangible suggestions for improvement.

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Part 4 – Final Paper & Critique Possible points: 50
A. Final Paper Presentation
For your final product, you will revise your graphical abstract and integrate it into a scientific article. This article
will include additional text in support of your graphical abstract. It should include (in text format), a descriptive
(scientific) title, introduction, methods, results, and discussion sections. The Title, Introduction, and Methods
should appear to the left of the graphical abstract. The Results, Discussion, and Literature Cited sections should
appear to the right of the graphical abstract. The Literature Cited should be in a modified APA format (see
below).
I highly recommend that you read the support material, “How to Write a Paper in Scientific Journal Style and
Format.” It has more details on what should be included in each section and problematic vs improved examples.
You can find a PDF on the class webpage and by following this link:
http://abacus.bates.edu/~ganderso/biology/resources/writing/HTWsections.html.
Title: The title should be short, yet specific and informative. Clarity and wit are not necessarily incompatible.
Here are some good and “needs improvement” examples:
GOOD
• Mutualism denied? Nectar-robbing bumble bees do not reduce female or male success of bluebells(from Ecology,
Volume 77(5), 1996)
• Fire severity and vegetation response in the boreal Swedish forest (from Ecology, Volume 77(5), 1996)
• Longevity in the United States: Age and sex-specific evidence on life span limits from mortality patterns 1960-
1990 (from Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 51(4-6) B362-B375, 1996)
NEEDS IMPROVEMENT
• A study of population sizes
• Ecology review paper
• Growth of plants
• Feeding preferences of birds
Introduction: This section states the nature of the general problem. In a sense, your introduction is an
advertisement for what follows. The introduction should provide readers with background about the general
topic you have examined. After reading your introduction, your readers should be able to evaluate both your
work and your conclusions without having to read other material on the topic. To structure your introduction,
begin with general background and move to more specific issues that are addressed by your study. Then
describe the question you examined, clearly state your hypothesis/hypotheses, the justification for the
hypothesis/hypotheses, and tell why your study is of scientific importance.
Methods: This section should be concise, but clearly written. It must be complete enough that the reader
could go out and repeat your search from the information you provide. The contents should include a
description of the study species, search engines used to find papers, key words, and types of data analysis
performed. Methods are always written in the past tense because you are reporting on something that has
already been done. In this section, you are explaining how you got your data, but you are not reporting
the data themselves.
Results: This section contains a paragraph-form description of your observations, without interpretation of
those data. Select interesting data to report (using actual numbers) in the narrative portion of your results
section. Then, summarize the bulk of your data in figures or tables, rather than just raw data dumped on a
page. In the text, refer to the tables and figures (e.g., as “Table 1” “Fig. 1”) in a sentence that calls attention to
the highlights. Here are some good and “needs improvement” examples:
GOOD
• Tree species diversity increased with elevation across all studies (Table 1)

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NEEDS IMPROVEMENT
• Data on tree species diversity are listed in Table 1.
• Table 1 shows our data on tree species diversity.
• See Table 1 for our data on tree species diversity.
• Tree species diversity increased with elevation across all sites
In the text, figures and tables are numbered separately, and the numbering corresponds to the order in which
each figure or table is first referred to in the text. Don’t assume that your reader will grasp everything to be
gleaned from your figures and tables. Describe them thoroughly, but you do not have to go on and on
endlessly either.
Discussion: This section brings your story to a satisfactory conclusion. It returns to the main focus
suggested in the introduction, elaborates on and interprets the results you obtained, and concludes your
paper. Summarize the main results and relate them to the general problem posed in the Introduction. Relate
your findings to previous work — how does your synthetic review tie previous studies together or point to
areas of new research? Draw relationships among your observations as much as you can. Evaluate
exceptions to your expectations and, if you think it is important, discuss sources and magnitude of errors that
may have influenced the results. You need to explain to your reader the implications of what you found –
what does it mean in the big picture? If a new hypothesis or concept emerges from your findings, introduce
that idea here. If you have suggestions for future work related to what you found, you would outline them in
this section.
Acknowledgments: If you have received any assistance from anyone then you must acknowledge them.
Please DO get help from professors, graduate students and fellow students — do not be afraid to mention the
help you received. It will enhance you in our eyes, not diminish you! In a paragraph, give the names of people
and explain how they helped you.
Example:
I thank John Smith for reading my manuscript and providing valuable comments, and my classmatesfor
helping with the data interpretation. I also thank Dr. Jane Smith for her help in developing the figures and
analyses.
Literature cited (format: modified APA): List all the sources you cited in your paper, but do not include any
items that you did not cite. References should be cited within the sentence or at the end of each sentence
where they have been referenced – not at the end of the paragraph. The form we will utilize for citing a
reference in the text is (author year).
Examples:
• In a study of Massachusetts’ tree distributions, Foster (1982) found that hemlocks were more commonly
found in semi-flooded areas because their roots can better tolerate saturated conditions.
• Hemlocks are more prevalent in semi-flooded areas due to their ability to tolerate saturated, low oxygen
conditions(Foster 1982).
• Seabeach amaranth (Amaranthus pumilus) is a fugitive annual plant found on barrier beaches of the
Atlantic coast (US Fish and Wildlife Service 2003).
A paper with two authors is cited as (Groom and Schumaker 1993) and one with three authors or more as
(Wentworth et al. 2006) or (Peter et al. 2003). Et al. is an abbreviation for the Latin et alii (literally meaning
and others) so it should be in italics and al. must include the period after it. List the references alphabetically by
the last name of the first author, and within authors by the year of publication (oldest first). Generically, your
referencesshould be of the following form:
Journal papers:
Author(s) (Year) Title. Journal Name (Volume): Pages.

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[First author last name] [Initials of first author’s first and middle name], and [Initials of second author’s first
and middle name] [second author last name] (Year Published) Article Title. Journal Name (Volume Number):
Page Numbers.
• If it is an electronic journal, provide the electronic page number (e.g., e1000345) or the DOI (Digital
Object Identifier).
• All authors should be listed up through the first 6. If there are more than 6 authors, put “et al.” after the
6
th author. Literally, this means “and others” in Latin.
• DO NOT USE: n.p. or n.d. or n.a. in the literature cited. If there is no author, no date and/or no publisher,
then this is a poor source!
Examples:
Two authors:
Berendse, F, and Scheffer, M. (2009) The angiosperm radiation revisited, an ecological explanation for
Darwin’s “abominable mystery”. Ecology Letters (12): 865–72
More than two authors:
Hu, S, DL Dilcher, DM Jarzen, and D Winship-Taylor. (2008) Early steps of angiosperm pollinator coevolution.
Proceedings of the National Acedemy of Sciences (105): 240–5
Evaluation criteria Points possible An exemplary analysis will do all of the following
Entire Article
Title 4 The title is inventive, accurate, specific, and engaging.
Content 5 Content is accurate, specific, and intended to inform or convince the viewer
Understanding of work 5 Article clearly demonstrates an overall understanding of work and results

presented

Context of research in a
global society 5

Article clearly communicates the significance of the research and effectively
describes the global context.

Use of models, diagrams,
charts, graphs

4 Use of models, diagrams, charts, and graphs which adds clarity to results and

audience understanding. All graphs are properly labeled

Application of the
scientific method

5 Hypothesis and prediction are stated clearly. Study design includes proper

controls, search parameters, and replicates

Conclusions 5 Conclusions regarding the hypothesis are supported by the data. All

appropriate conclusions are based upon data presented

Graphical abstract
Representations 4 Design elements are clearly informed by the content and support the

main message

Overall design 4 The overall design has a highly logical flow and clearly communicates the

message

Creativity 4 Clever and unique, illustrating a deep understanding of the material
B. Critique
After the assignment closes, you will be assigned 3 graphical abstracts to critique. You should receive an email for each
abstract to which you have been assigned. You will also be able to locate them within the Review Article Part 4 assignment.
Fill out the Scientific Paper Evaluation Form for EACH ONE SEPARATELY and upload your file using the attachments link
located by the “Comments” textbox on the right side of the screen when you are viewing their abstract. Provide
THOUGHTFUL feedback to help your peers improve the effectiveness of their abstract. You will be graded on your feedback.
We will spend the rest of class discussing the strengths that we see and to provide constructive feedback to the group.
Evaluation criteria Points possible An exemplary analysis will do all of the following
Graphical abstract
evaluation form

5 (1 pt per
infographic)

Evaluation forms are complete, and author has provided substantial, tangible
suggestions for improvement and of encouragement.

Total 5

15

Scientific Paper Evaluation Form
Author Name: ______________________ Evaluator Name: ______________________
1. Highlight the description that best fits this presentation in terms of each of the follow categories.
* modified from the Webster University Senior Thesis Final Presentation Rubric.
Evaluation criteria Exceptional Proficient Developing
Entire Paper
Title The title is inventive, accurate,
specific, and engaging.

The title is accurate, somewhat
specific, and moderately
engaging.

The title is inaccurate, too
general, and/or boring.

Content Content is accurate, specific, and
intended to inform or convince
the viewer

Content is misleading or too
broad to allow the viewer to
understand the main points

Content and messaging are
unclear

Understanding of
work

Paper clearly demonstrates an
overall understanding of work
and results presented

Paper demonstrates some
understanding of work and
results presented

Paper does not demonstrate
understanding of work and
results presented

Context of research
in a global society is
addressed

Paper clearly communicates the
significance of the research and
effectively describes the global
context.

Paper identifies the significance
of the research and illustrates it
in a somewhat clear and global
context.

Paper does not unable describe
the significance of the research
or place it in a global context.

Effective use of
models, diagrams,
charts and graphs

Use of models, diagrams, charts,
and graphs which adds clarity to
results and audience
understanding. All graphs are
properly labeled

Appropriate use of models,
diagrams, charts, and graphs.
Some graphs mislabeled or
unlabeled.

Models, diagrams, charts, and
graphs not used appropriately
or do not add clarity to results.
Graphs are mislabeled or
unlabeled

Work demonstrates
application of the
scientific method.

Hypothesis and prediction are
stated clearly. Study design
includes proper controls, search
parameters, and replicates

Hypothesis and prediction are
present. Study design is mostly
appropriate (controls, search
parameters, and replicates).

Hypothesis/prediction are
missing. Study design is flawed
(no controls, replicates and/or
search parameters).

Appropriate
conclusions
presented

Conclusions regarding the
hypothesis are supported by the
data and statistical analysis. All
appropriate conclusions are
based upon data presented

Conclusions are partially
supported by the data. Most
conclusions are based on data
presented.

Conclusion regarding the
hypothesis is not made, not
based on data presented, or
inappropriate.

Graphical abstract
Representations Design elements are clearly
informed by the content and
support the main message

Design elements are
peripherally related to the
content and marginally support
the message

Design elements are not
related to the content and/or
do not support the message

Overall design The overall design has a highly
logical flow and clearly
communicates the message

The overall design has a
somewhat logical flow and
communicates the message

The overall design does not
have a logical flow and/or does
not communicate the message

Creativity Clever and unique, illustrating a
deep understanding of the
material

Thoughtful and somewhat
unique, illustrating
understanding of the material

Few to no original or
unique elements that illustrate
limited effort

16
2. Describe 2 strengths of the Paper (1 on the presentation and 1 on the science) and explain how the
authors achieved them.

3. Describe 2 weaknesses of the Paper (1 on the presentation and 1 on the science) and provide
specific, tangible suggestions for improvement.

4. Write at least 2 thoughtful questions for the author regarding their project. Consider their conceptual
framework, methods, results, discussion, etc.

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