20.109(S14):Primer design memo

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20.109(S14): Laboratory Fundamentals of Biological Engineering

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Contents

Overview

Persuasive writing is often considered a specialized form of communication. Advertisements, letters to the editor, and brochures are all forms of persuasive writing. In scientific writing such as research articles, you are generally trying to indirectly persuade your audience of at least two things: that the research is interesting/valuable/applicable, and that the results mean what you think they do. Here you will try your hand at a more explicit persuasive writing style by crafting a short memo to your hypothetical supervisor at a company specializing in molecular diagnostics. You should prepare an update about the microsporidia research division that justifies the research you have recently pursued and also outlines your plans for the immediate future – should your supervisor continue funding the division, that is.

Logistics

Submission

Please submit your completed summary on Stellar, with filename FirstNameLastInitial _LabSection_Mod1.doc (for example, RafaelR_TR_Mod1.doc).

This assignment is due by 11 am on March 18th (Tuesday) or March 19th (Wednesday), according to which day you have lab.

Formatting Expectations

  • Your main document (excluding figures) should be/have
    • .docx (preferred) or .pdf
    • 12-pt font
    • with 1-inch margins
    • spaced at 1.5 lines

Guidelines on Length

Aim to convey your thoughts in 3 pages.

This page count includes text, tables, and figures.

Content Guidelines

Your memo should be structured according to the format described below. You may also find the linked example of a hybrid memo-report useful. This example represents the general format and style we are looking for, though do note that the assignments differ in the precise structure, length, etc.

For our purposes, any tables and figures you prepare should include a complete caption as for a publication.

Heading

Include the categories To, From, Date, and a concise yet informative Subject. Do not include a greeting.

Overview

Open your memo with about three sentences stating the purpose of the memo and then previewing the key conclusions that you will draw and support therein.

Motivation

Here you aim to motivate/justify two things in about two paragraphs:

  • The overall strategy you have pursued
    • Did you seek to improve sensitivity, specificity, or both?
    • In what clinical context might your new diagnostic be used?
  • The specific design choices that you made
    • What characteristics of the primers did you change?
    • What did you hypothesize would happen?

Include a summary table that compares your newly designed primers to your research division's previous effort (V1-PMP2). The text related to your specific design choices should explicitly refer to this table.

Outcomes

Use this section to point out the most important findings and analysis that led to your conclusion about the future direction of your research division.

Begin by clearly describing, in both a figure(s) and text, the performance of your novel primer design. Explicitly compare this performance to your expectations. Whether or not you succeeded in designing primers superior to those with which you started, discuss the design factors that you believe had the greatest impact on primer performance.

Be sure to establish yourself as a credible source for this information. You will be most credible if you highlight your expertise and understanding of the subtleties of the subject based upon your experimental results. Establishing credibility also requires that you appreciate and directly address any limitations in the data.

Conclusion

The purpose of this section is to help your supervisor decide whether your division merits continued funding or needs a new direction. First summarize the progress you have made, in comparison to the progress you anticipated making, in about a sentence. Next, in a few sentences, describe the next one or two experiments that you would like to pursue. (What changes would you make to your current design?) Finally, in one or two sentences, either ask for and justify continued funding for microsporidia diagnostics or suggest that the division be redirected to pursue a specific alternative target.
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