Biology 211, General Ecology, Spring Term, 2021 PAPER DISCUSSIONS AND REVIEWS
Throughout the course we will discuss primary literature articles in ecology that are relevant to the lecture topic of that day. On each paper discussion day (see course schedule), everyone is to have read the paper, written a review of the article, and be prepared to discuss it during lecture. Each student should keep notes on the discussion of each paper since the general conclusions will be incorporated into questions on the lecture exams.
On the day of the discussion in lecture, come prepared to present a general overview of the paper and address some questions about the content and conclusions of the paper. Submit your paper reviews on Canvas in the Course Assignments section.
Instructions for writing reviews of scientific papers
Reading and evaluating the primary scientific literature is an essential part of being a scientist. There are several important questions that you should ask yourself when reading a paper.
1) What is the major question(s) being addressed in the paper? Is the question formally stated in the form of a hypothesis?
2) Is the hypothesis tested? How is it tested – is it a comparative, correlative, experimental study? Is the sampling method, experimental design, or analysis appropriate? Are the assumptions satisfied?
3) Are the conclusions supported by the results? Evaluate the results that support or contradict the conclusions. Are the conclusions supported by those of other published studies, or do they provide a novel explanation that is unexpected and different from other studies?
4) Does the paper consider any alternative hypotheses that may also explain their data?
5) Does the paper tell a cohesive story? Is there sufficient background information provided to
understand the topic? Do they identify the gap in knowledge addressed by this study? Is a tightly reasoned argument evident throughout the paper? Does the paper wander from this argument and discuss topics that are not relevant to the data collected?
6) Was the information presented in a logical format? Were the tables, figures, text, and statistics appropriately used to convey the information? Could the presentation of the information be altered to improve communication? Did the type of journal influence the format (e.g., Science vs Ecology)?
7) Do the title, abstract, introduction, and conclusions accurately reflect the major point(s) of the paper?
8) What are the implications of this work to the field of ecology? Can the conclusions be applied to other locations, ecosystems? Are there any practical applications of this research; e.g., fisheries?
9) Would the problem under consideration have been better studied in another biological system? 10) What further questions have been raised by this study? What types of studies could be conducted to address these questions?
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