You are on page 1of 5


Scientific knowledge is doubling every few years. Keeping up-to-date and critically appraising
information are essential future skills for any career (in genetics). In this course, students will
improve their skills in literature review, critical appraisal, scientific writing and oral presentation.

Instructor: Vojislava Grbic, WSC 341,

Course Schedule

The class meets every Friday from 10:30am – 1:30pm

Jan 6 Introduction and How to dissect research paper and to give an oral presentation?
Jan 13 Discussion and the attendance of the Research seminar by Pierre Hilson
Jan 20 Quiz and the analysis of the research paper 1
Jan 27 Quiz and the analysis of the research paper 2
Feb 3 Student presentations A, 1-3
Feb 10 Discussion and the attendance of the Research seminar by James Fry
Feb 17 Student presentations A, 4-6
Feb 24 Reading week
March 3 POSTER presentations
March 10 Student presentations B
March 17 Student presentations B
March 24/31 Student presentations B
April 7 Student presentations B and preparation of the term paper

Mark Breakdown

Quiz 10
Student presentation A 15
Poster 15
Student presentation B 25
Term paper 30
Participation 5
Total 100

Student presentation A: Need to prepare (to the best of your ability) the understanding of
assigned paper. Presentations will be done in teams of 2 students.

Student presentation B: These presentations will be based on primary research article chosen
by the student. The research article should be selected from following journals: Cell, EMBO J,
Nature and relevant sister journals such as Nature Genetics, Nature Biotech, Science, PNAS,
Plant Cell, Plant Journal, Current Biology, Development, Genes and Development, Genome
Biology, PloS Biology, PloS Genetics, and should be communicated to Dr. Grbic no later than
Feb 12 in the following format [Saze H. et al. (2008). Control of Genic DNA Methylation by
a jmjC Domain-Containing Protein in Arabidopsis thaliana. Science 319, 462-465]. The pdf of
the paper should be attached to the e-mail. Each presentation will be 30 minutes long and will
be followed by 15 minutes of questions.
You must use PowerPoint to prepare your seminars. If you are unfamiliar with this software
then practice using it before preparing your talk. The public computer labs on campus are
supplied with PowerPoint. You will use the built-in computer (not your laptop) and projector to
deliver your seminars in class. Save your file on a memory stick and bring it to class. You must
load your presentation onto this computer at the beginning of class on your presentation day.

Poster: Posters will be prepared based on the SAME scientific paper as presented for Student
presentation A. Posters will provide alternative format for scientific presentation. Posters could
feature additional information that may have not been included in the seminar presentation.
Details on poster presentation will be sent ahead of preparation.

Term paper: This paper is due April 21, 2017. Late papers will receive a grade of zero (no
exceptions); partially completed papers will be accepted. You must submit both an electronic
AND a paper copy of your review paper. Each student will write the term paper that will be
based on the same primary research publication used for the Student presentation B. This
paper will focus on discussing future experiments based on selected primary research
publication. The text of the research paper must not exceed two, 1.5-spaced, typewritten pages
with 2.5 cm margins. Two pages do NOT include your list of references, figures, or tables. The
pages MUST be numbered. Some general guidelines for putting the research paper together
are outlined below.

Format, Organization & Layout:

Acceptable reference format: Use the reference format exactly as the specified journal, “Nature
Genetics”. Requiring specific format may seem odd but because each scientific journal requires
a unique format, this will be good practice in following "instructions to authors". You are
responsible for finding, reading and following these rules. [Hint: some journals have websites; all
journals print this information in at least one volume per year]. References to the primary
scientific literature are required; however, very limited use of textbooks and scientific websites
will be tolerated.

Layout and Organization: includes the integration of the text with figures and/or tables. Figures
and/or tables should be easy to follow and helpful in understanding the material.
Spelling, grammar and writing style will be graded. Consult the attached sample marking
scheme in your course outline for additional information. Your paper will be checked for
plagiarism, and will be compared against contents from all journal articles and websites
(accounting for billions of pages). It also compares your assignment similarity with other
students that are currently in the class.

Missing a class because of illness or other circumstances

If you are unable to meet a course requirement due to illness or other serious circumstances,
you must provide valid medical or other supporting documentation to the Dean's office as soon
as possible and contact your instructor immediately. It is the student's responsibility to make
alternative arrangements with their instructor once the accommodation has been approved and
the instructor has been informed. For further information please see
A student requiring academic accommodation due to illness, should use the Student Medical
Certificate when visiting an off-campus medical facility or request a Record's Release Form
(located in the Dean's Office) for visits to Student Health Services. The form can be found here:

Academic Integrity

As you know, plagiarism is a major scholastic offense (see Scholastic Offense Policy in the
Western Academic Calendar) with penalties up to and including expulsion. Students must write
their assignments in their own words. Whenever an idea, or a passage, is taken from another
author, it must be acknowledged by using proper referencing such as footnotes or citations.
Quotation marks should be used whenever a phrase, sentence or passage is copied verbatim;
rewording or paraphrasing another’s idea requires a citation only. The minimum penalty for an
assignment that contains plagiarized material will be a grade of zero. Plagiarism checking
software will be used on all written assignments. For more information please go to .

Electronic devices:
Use of Smart Phones, iPods or other electronic devices is not allowed at any time during
seminars. You are, however, allowed to use a laptop to take notes during the course.
Seminar Marking Guide

Student: ________________________________________
Topic: __________________________________________
Start time: __________ End time: __________

Scientific content:
Clearly define the issue being addressed, provide a brief outline of your talk.
I am looking for comprehensive, up-to-date coverage of the topic.
You must provide sufficient background material.
Concepts must be well developed, and clearly and logically presented.
Use published information (properly cited, of course) to support your arguments.
Point out critical flaws in design or interpretation, if applicable.
Provide a summary/take-home message.

Communication skills:
Speak clearly and loudly. Make eye contact with the audience.
Be enthusiastic and seem interested in the topic.
Talk about the material, and DO NOT read from a set of notes.
Use legible illustrations/data rather than blocks of text to make your point.
Use a large font. Color can be useful if used properly.
Avoid Times Roman font; Arial and Helvetica are much easier to read when projected.
Limit the amount of information per slide.
Make use of your word processor’s grammar and spelling checker.

Handling of questions:
Take every question seriously.
Listen carefully to the question and ask for clarification if needed.
Think about the question then provide a thorough, direct and brief answer.
Add relevant information to show the extent of your background knowledge.
If you don’t know the answer, then say so.
Don’t take offense if you are asked something that you know you covered in your talk.
Use the questioner’s facial expressions as a guide to whether the answer was clear.

Term Paper Marking Scheme

The paper should be 2 pages maximum (not including figures/tables references).

(1) Scientific content: / 20

Statement of the problem:

Why is this important?
What is known?
What is the scientific question you will be addressing as future research? This should be clearly
STATED. You should be testing a SINGLE question!!
What is your hypothesis, as an anticipated answer to your scientific question?
How would you test your scientific question? What is the approach you will be taking to address
your question?

Material and methods:

How would you test your scientific question? Briefly describe materials and methods you intend
to use and experimental approach.

If your hypothesis is correct, what are expected results of the experiments you proposed to do in
order to test your scientific question?
Create Figures that would reflect these results. Make sure that you include appropriate controls
in your experiments and to present them.

Are your experiments providing a final answer to the posed question? If there are still alternative
possibilities/explanations/answers, list them.


You must provide sufficient background material.

Concepts must be well developed and clearly presented.

(2) Format and layout /5

Spelling, Grammar, Writing style, References and Citations

Integration of text and figures/tables, Logical order of presentation

Number your pages.

Make use of your word processor’s grammar and spelling checker.
Use the reference format exactly as the specified journal, “Nature Genetics”
There should be a logical flow to your paper; the reader should understand how you reached
your conclusions.
All figures and tables must be fully labeled and accompanied by explanatory text.

Total / 25