Kenyon College -- Department of Biology

The News and Views Project
Biology 243: Comparative Animal Physiology
Fall 2007

return to biology 243 syllabus 1 - Summary proposal 3 - Commentary draft Proper citation
Grade distribution 2 - Summary 4 - Commentary  

The objective:
In this project, you will write two papers describing primary research articles - a summary and a commentary. In the summary, you will describe an article - its purpose, methods, results, and significance. In the commentary, you will write a critical analysis of an article. The differences between summary and commentary are described in the assignments below, and we will read several summaries and commentaries along with the associated research articles as the semester progresses.

Assignment 1 - Summary proposal.
Purpose: Your goal in writing this assignment is to propose a paper that you use for the project summary and commentary assignments . You should make a convincing case for why the paper you choose deserves to be evalauted.

Paper Selection:

Hand in:

Assignment 2 - Summary
In this assignment you write a detailed summary of the paper. The point here is to accurately describe and explain each research paper. The summary should not simply paraphrase the papers, the point is to explain the study. Your summary should address the following points:

Your summary must address the above points, but may also contain additional material. Your summary must be written as a coherent essay, not as a list of responses to the above items.

Hand in:

Grading: The following criteria will be used to evaluate your paper.

Assignment 3 - Commentary draft
The goal of this assignment is to write a critical commentary on your chosen research article. This differs from the summary in that you must include your own interpretations, analysis, and criticism. Your commentary should discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the paper, using other research literature for support. It may also discuss the implications of the work and its possible impact on further work. Focus on the most exciting, important, controversial, or innovative aspects of the paper. You may use the same research article that you used in Assignment 2, although you may also choose a new article if you wish. If you decide to write on a new article, please have it approved by me before you proceed.

The commentary should not be simply a summary of the paper. Instead it should critically analyze the paper. Your commentary should only include whatever summary of the paper that is needed to make effective comparisons and analysis. It should not include large sections of summary without critique and analysis. Your commentary need not cover every aspect of the paper. Choose what is more important, exciting, interesting, or controversial and write about it. Some tips for making arguments in an essay are here. Your grade will primarily be based on the quality of your critical analysis and the clarity of your presentation of this analysis to the reader.

Hand in:

Grading: Excellent commentaries will show the following characteristics:

Assignment 4 - Commentary final paper.
Revise your commentary based on feedback from your draft. It is important that you think broadly about this revision rather than simply "fixing" the original. In my comments, I will often make suggestions that refer to a particular passage in your writing. It is your responsibility to apply such suggestions across the entire essay. Also, consider whether a reoganization or shift in focus would improve the essay. You will be graded on both the quality of your revised essay and the care with which revisions were made.

Hand in:

Grade distribution:

Assignment 1 - 5%
Assignment 2 - 25%
Assignment 3 - 20%
Assignment 4 - 50%

Deadlines and conflicts:  Work in this class that is handed in late will be penalized 1/3 grade per day. For example, a B+ will become a B.

Frequently asked questions:

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