Biology 100/103 -
Concepts in Biology
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Term Paper Guidelines
Communication of scientific principles, ideas, and experimental findings is
an integral part of Biology. To be competent in the subject of Biology is
therefore not only limited to being able to answer questions on a test or
memorize notes. In this course, I hope that you will also be able to see Biology
as a hypothesis-driven science (see Chapter 1), to discover for yourself some of
the groundbreaking research that is being conducted in Biology, and to integrate
this information with what we are studying to further explore a topic of Biology
that interests you. You will do this in the form of writing a term paper about a
topic of your choice (with instructor approval). Topics can be about anything in
Biology (ecology, botany, microbiology, genetics, zoology, cell biology, etc.).
You will also be asked to reflect on issues of global importance and our
personal responsibilities in addressing such issues; this paper will allow you
somewhat free reign in this area.
As you begin to consider your term paper topic and the writing process,
please keep in mind the following guidelines:
- Your topic must deal with an issue in the realm of Biology and should
contain significant portions describing the scientific aspects of your
topic. You may certainly also examine social, ethical, political, or
economical issues related to your topic, but the essence of your paper must
- Your topic must be unique, i.e. you cannot choose a topic that someone
else has already chosen.
- Your paper should be ~ 5 pages in length (typed, double-spaced, standard
margins and font). This should be ~ 1,500 words. Using extra-wide margins,
large fonts, pictures, tables, and extra blank lines are not appropriate
ways to make up for a short paper.
- Your paper should be free of grammatical and spelling mistakes. Part of
your term paper grade is based on spelling and grammar (For every 10
mistakes, 1/2 point will be deducted from your grade).
- Your paper must include at least one recent (published in 2020 or later) research paper as a
reference. You should discuss the research in your term paper and include a
copy of this research paper with your term paper.
- You will be asked to meet with me in person to discuss your term paper.
You will need to bring with you a copy of your research article and an
outline of your term paper.
- Your term paper will be due as indicated. There will be a 1 point late
penalty per day after that.
- Any form of plagiarism is a serious
matter. It is important that you understand what plagiarism
is. Please read this policy. You are
required to acknowledge that you have read this policy before handing in
your term paper.
- Research your term paper well. You may utilize internet sources as well as
books, journals, newspaper articles and research papers.
- Be sure to do your own work. Reference all your information (by
source) in your paper. Here are some examples of how you can cite
references: At the end of a sentence or paragraph, the reference you
used is identified by number in parentheses. The references are listed
by number at the end of the paper.
by author's name: At the end of a sentence or paragraph, the
reference you used is identified by author's last name(s) and year
published, in parentheses. The references are listed alphabetically at
the end of the paper.
- Some good places to start:
Direct: Online library of scientific journals
(very broad database, but not everything is available as full text)
- Plattsburgh State's Library search
tools. (This gives you abstracts only, and you may need to go to the
library to get the articles)
Probably one of the better search engines, for information as well as
- Google scholar: a search
tool that specifically looks for research papers on Google.
- Print out your research article (full text) and bring it with you to your
meeting with me.
- Content (80%) = 40 points
- Organization of thoughts
- Use of research article
- Format (20%) = 10 points
- Spelling & Grammar
- Margins & formatting
- Topic submitted on time = 1 point
- Meeting with professor (outline & copy of article) = 1 point
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