Discussion Outline, Annotated Bibliography, and Graphical abstract:
Due prior to Lab 3. Please submit an electronic copy to your dropbox and bring a hard copy to class.
It's time to think about the discussion section of your paper. A discussion should begin with a brief restatement of the overall topic and then summarize your experimental findings and conclusions. Each of those conclusions is discussed, comparing your findings to other related studies.
So what will you discuss? The discussion section of a research report addresses one or more of the following general ideas: what's the larger context for the findings (why is it important or where does this lead?); what are the possible mechanisms behind the findings (e.g. how many microbes are found in soil? or how do microbes communicate, interact, or digest external substrates?); what other research helps confirm or call into question the findings in this study (it is so?). Although the discussion is centered on this studies' findings, you need to compare your findings to outside studies. Doing an outline and annotated bibliography is a good way to find and distill information from appropriate outside studies and to start writing the discussion.
Organize an outline of your discussion incorporating an annotated bibliography of sources that may be used in your final paper's discussion section summarizing the findings and conclusions. These links will help you understand the purpose of an annotated bibliography: | Cornell University; | Jarrett Library; | Austin Peay State University; Try to find journal articles that ask the same or similar questions using the same or different methods and get a more complete sense of how your findings fit in the consensus of what's understood about your topic. Within your outline the annotated bibliography should summarize the methods, findings and conclusions of pertinent studies that will be useful to add to or refute your conclusions about abundance, diversity, and community behavior gleaned from your findings. Be sure to construct it using the References Cited format of the journal Cell. Before you begin to look for studies to include in this bibliography, spend some time analyzing your results and outlining your discussion.
When you begin to write the final paper, BE CAREFUL NOT TO TRASH YOUR STUDY'S FINDINGS!!!! Your main take away message is that there is a mindboggling abundance and diversity of soil microorganisms in a community that somehow manage to co-operate and compete to find a niche and to keep the community diverse and healthy. Instead of portraying our (the whole scientific community's) current inability to know the full extent of what's there as a short coming in your study, show your investigation as adding support to the idea that soil microbial communities are a frontier that is largely unexplored and ripe for future important discoveries. Leave your reader with the sense that although the field has come along way from the recognition of the great plate count anomaly, there is always more to know and discover about the full range of abundance and richness in soil communities. Make the discussion POSITIVE.
Graphical Abstract: Because you have most of your experimental evidence for answering your questions and you know the direction of your discussion from your outline and bibliography, you should be able to compose the basic structure of a graphical abstract. You may revise or add to this draft abstract later when you have all of your data. As you consider possible visualizations that help your reader understand the scope and direction of this study and the data that make your main points, keep in mind that simplicity is important. Do not try to use everything. Do step back and stress the big picture. There is a folder in Resources in Sakai, called Images. Your instructor has uploaded images of the Wellesley Greenhouses including the Tropical room that you may use if you wish. NOTE that these images are available as an OPTION. It is not required to use them nor is it even suggested that they be part of your graphical abstract.
See the definition for a graphical abstract and find examples from published research reports at | http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/authorsview.authors/graphicalabstracts. Pay particular attention to the examples that illustrate larger and smaller contexts using arrows or other ways of indication of zooming in.
A graphical abstract is a visual representation of the main point of a research report. Because the graphical abstract you will compose for this homework assignment is a visualization of the main take home message(s) of the paper you will write on this semester long project, you must be pretty clear about how the whole paper will be organized and have in your head the main conclusions that can be made from your data that you have presented in results and explored in your discussion. You have written drafts of most of the sections of this paper, including the introduction that outlines the project, its goals and why the investigation is important. You have also completed a draft of several of the results sections so you should have a pretty clear idea of what you data says about your topic and about many of your experimental questions.