Grading Rubric & Information for Partial Paper-Gene Mapping – 40 points
Title, Abstract, Introduction, Results, References – due 10/23 for all students.
Please refer to the general Guidelines for Scientific Writing, found in the Resources section, for tips on how to write each required section (Title, Abstract, Introduction, Results, References) in this partial paper. You may omit the Materials and Methods and Discussion sections; however, you must end your paper with a concluding summary paragraph. (This summary is usually found at the end of the discussion in a full paper; however, in this partial paper, it will conclude your Results section).
Note that there are links in the Resources section of this Wiki to a page of Wellesley librarian’s instructions for finding sources and another link to a page from the Wellesley library web site with instructions for using EndNote™ reference manager software for citing those sources correctly. In this paper, you will use the reference format of the journal Cell. The best way to learn to format your reference citations in this style is to find recent articles in Cell to use as models; or, (even easier) instruct EndNote™ to format them for this journal.
The Guidelines for Scientific Writing section on the Resources page of the Wiki goes into exhaustive detail about the general requirements and expectation for each section of your paper (you should spend significant time digesting all of that information). What are found below are a few more tips (dos and don’ts) for writing this paper on your mapping project.
1) Remember your audience for this paper is not your lab instructor or a classmate who knows all about these experiments; rather, the audience is a group of scientifically literate strangers who don’t necessarily know anything about your project and its goals or about genetic tools, laws, or worms. The introduction is the place to spell out your experimental goal: structural characterization of a functionally significant mutation in C. elegans through finding the location of the gene responsible for the dumpy phenotype.
2) Your introduction, also, must attempt to develop the audience’s interest in the topic by explaining to readers (who aren’t students in this course) why they should care about your project’s goal. Not so easy; since, if we’re honest, your readers could probably live the rest of their lives quite happily without knowing anything about dumpy worms, unless you convince them otherwise. So why do geneticists spend so much time creating functionally significant (those that cause a phenotype change) mutations and then sleuthing out the location of the genes that cause them? It is crucial to keep in mind that the big picture here is not to learn about the mutation in a little soil worm, but rather, to learn as much as we can about the normal gene and its function. We do that by causing a gene to be altered or broken a little bit (mutagenesis) and then hunting for a phenotype change. If we change a gene and see what it now can’t do, does differently, or does better, then we have learned a lot about the role of the normal gene, including where that gene is located relative to other genes. That is the real goal and the significance of your project. Because the C. elegans genome homology with humans (and with most other eukaryotic organisms) is frighteningly high (we have a lot more in common with worms genetically than you might have guessed), genetic researchers often can apply aspects of what they learn about worm genes structure and function to other organisms, including Homo sapiens.
3) Do not assume that your reader understands what you did and why you did it. Remember that it is not intuitive to those who didn’t hear Prof. Sequeira’s lectures on laws of inheritance that certain ratios of progeny from certain crosses means that genes are linked or that assortment is independent. In your Results section, you will have to explain your crosses and how your experimental design and the resulting progeny allowed you to figure out the main conclusion: where your particular dumpy mutation is located in the C. elegans genome and if it is a new or a previously charaterized dumpy mutation. This "explaining" is an essential part of the Results narrative. Just because you are allowed to omit the Materials and Methods and Discussion sections of this paper, that does not mean that your reader does not need to be told what you did and how your data (results) satisfy your project goals. The Results section should begin with a general synopsis of your experiments (but not in anywhere near the level of detail that you would write about what you did in M&M). You need not be specific in the Results narrative about media recipes, incubation times, etc. Note that future investigators, who read your paper because they are also working in this field, need for you to be specific about strain names and crosses. You must use established nomenclature for clarity and you must make sure that any acronyms (dpy for dumpy, for example) are clearly defined at first use and wherever ambiguous. Avoid non-specific words like “plates” when you describe your experiment. Plates are just pieces of plastic. It is the culture conditions (media and bacterial food) on the plates that allow this experiment to proceed.
4) Students are often confused about what goes into results and what should be saved for discussion. In the results section, you should state conclusions (if your data allow them) as a natural conclusion to your data analysis. If you can answer the main question from your data, “where is your unique dumpy mutation located in the C. elegans genome and is it really a new mutation or a previously characterized one?”, then make that conclusion as part of the process of explaining your results. Don’t just describe your data in Results and leave your reader scratching her head, thinking, “ok, but what does that data mean”?
More Resources for Writing Help:
Resources section of the WIKI
Your lab instructor!
Science Writing Peer-Mentors- The Writing Program provides free help from Writing mentors. The student writing advisers have scheduled hours in Sage Lounge and elsewhere on campus. Appointments can be made through an on-line appointment scheduler at: www.rich65.com/wellesley
Grading Rubric for Partial Paper-Gene Mapping – 40 points
||At or Above Standard
|5.5-7.5 pts. Title reflects paper’s conclusions. Concisely summarizes in appropriate format: topic, experimental questions, general outline of methods, major findings (specific!), conclusions & implications of the findings in relation to what is known or expected. Information is brief but intelligible to novice reader.
||0-5 pts. Title stresses techniques or general goals rather than conclusions. Abstract omits topic, experimental goals, or a concise description of the experimental design with key results. Does not include conclusions or significance of those conclusions. Information unintelligible to novice reader. Includes tangential information or too much detail; misinterprets information and/or implications.
||8.5-10 pts. Identifies central topic, includes appropriate background information from primary sources, & a synopsis of the experimental design. Writing style uses correct vocabulary, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and is clear and concise. Reference citations in proper format (Cell style) in the body of the paper for all information not common knowledge.
||0-8 pts. Does not correctly identify central topic; does not include appropriate background information, or a synopsis of the experimental design; does not explain relevance of the experiments; does not use primary sources or give properly formatted reference citations for information not common knowledge. Includes background info. unrelated to topic; related background info is in too much detail or too general. Writing style is not clear or concise and/or uses incorrect vocabulary, grammar, spelling, or punctuation.
|17.5-20 pts. Includes sufficient appropriate figures and tables designed for maximum clarity and ease of interpretation. All figures & tables are numbered & have correctly formatted legends; all data is labeled & includes correct units or appropriate info. on statistical tools used. The narrative describes accurately, clearly, and succinctly the rearch goals and an adequate description of the experimental methods before describing the major findings with specific references to figures/tables.
All major findings are evaluated appropriately for meaning and importance in answering experimental questions and explained for a reader who does know the topic or research methods well. Appropriate conclusions are drawn.
Concluding paragraph summarizes main findings. Proposes future research directions or applies findings to a larger concept. Writing style uses correct vocabulary, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and was clear and concise
|0-17 pts. Key figures and/or tables omitted. Unprocessed data included. Figures &/or tables difficult to read or to interpret due to missing information and/or poor design. The narrative omits research goals, experimental design synopsis, key findings, describes the data inaccurately or unclearly, includes irrelevant information, or is repetitive. Data analysis does not include an adequate explanation of the concepts behind the experimental design or those required for the data interpretation. Not all major findings are evaluated for meaning & importance, or are incorrectly interpreted.
Conclusion omitted, or, if present, conclusions are incorrectly drawn, unexplained and/or not related to experimental data. Future research directions or possible significance omitted. Writing style is not clear or concise and/or uses incorrect grammar, spelling, punctuation & vocabulary.
||2-2.5 pts. Includes complete, properly formatted citation for each work cited in body of report modeled after style of journal Cell. Includes an appropriately formatted Reference page at end of paper in Cell style. Includes all material that is not commons knowledge. Uses an adequate number of reliable, appropriate sources.
||0-2 pts. Does not include complete, properly formatted citations for all references in Cell style in body of paper and/or in References page at end of paper; lists works in Reference page not cited in body of paper, or fails to give reference citation for information not common knowledge. Does not use reliable or appropriate sources.