Term Paper

Spring Semester, 2005

Instructions for Term Paper

You will write a term paper, and then give an oral presentation on your paper near the end of the semester. Dates for the presentations may be selected by the third day of class. If you haven't signed up for a presentation time by that day, you will be assigned a date. There will be a sign-up sheet outside of my office door (441C). In preparing your paper, please follow the guidelines and style for manuscript preparation used by Trends in Plant Science. Papers will be graded for content, style, and timeliness (meeting deadlines), see below.

Choose one of the following two options for term paper topics:

A. Identify a specific plant metabolite that is produced in a limited number of species. These species may not include staple food crops grown in the USA or elsewhere in the world, but they may be medicinally important plants. So, you may not select rice, potatoes, maize, wheat, barley, cassava, tomatoes, oranges, etc. But, you may choose ginseng (take your pick of type), hen bane, hog wort, etc. Outline the potential importance, significance, and economic benefit of this compound (i.e. don't pick a compound just because you like the aesthetics of its structure). Next, choose a plant commonly grown in the USA, either a major crop plant or a plant with potential to become a major crop species, for production of your compound. Describe what would be required to engineer this crop plant to produce this compound. Discuss advantages and disadvantages of your chosen crop species, i.e. why you chose it over other plants. This discussion should obviously include detailed descriptions of the genetics and biochemistry of the plant and metabolite in question. Discuss potential problems you may face in introducing this compound into this plant, and what you would suggest to get around these problems. Discuss any environmental, health or other concerns would you need to address in producing this compound in this plant. Discuss any other points that you view as relevant to this particular topic.


B. Identify a biochemical process or topic that is important for plant biochemistry/biology, but that has not been covered in a major review in the past two years. Write a review of the current literature on this topic. Use the style of Trends in Plant Science. Possible topics might include a description of a class of enzymes, or a discussion of advances in our understanding of a metabolic pathway or process. Many other types of topics are possible. If you have a question about this, first look closely at the last year's issues of Trends in Plant Science, then if that doesn't help, come and talk to me. If you use a topic that was covered in a review within the last 10 years (but not in the last 2 years), then you will need to show what is new about our understanding of this particular topic. A rehash of an old review is close to plagiarism and will not be acceptable. Seek out a new topic, one that has been neglected, but that you think is nevertheless important.

You must obtain approval for format and topic from me. Submit your paper topic by February 1st. This submission, not to exceed ½ page, must include: your name, tentative title, journal format to follow, and short abstract of topic with brief justification for your choice. Approval of your topic will be given by February 3rd. If your topic is not approved, you will have until 12 noon on the 7thth to turn in a new, acceptable topic. If you are concerned about your topic, speak to me ahead of time, so that you don't miss the deadline. You can get approval any time prior to the deadline, so starting early is a good thing.

Papers are due by 5 pm local time, March 29th. Late papers will not be accepted. No exceptions. You paper will be given to three other class mates (with your name removed) for review, comments, suggestions, and criticism (hopefully mostly constructive). At the same time, you will be given three papers from class mates for review. The reviews should be about 1 - 2 pages in length, and serve as a tool to improve the papers of your classmates. 10 % of your term paper grade will be based on your reviews of others' papers. Reviews will be due on April 14th. Reviews (with reviewer names removed) of your paper will be returned to you, by April 21st. You will then need to revise your paper. Final revisions (final version of your paper) are due by 5 pm local time, April 28th. Included with your revised manuscript should be a document outlining your responses to reviewers. Welcome to the world of manuscript submission.

More details on paper format:

Follow the format for Trends in Plant Science for Abstract, Introduction, other paper sections, Conclusions, References, Figure/Table style, etc. The instructions for authors for this journal can be found on the journal's web site. Your submission should include a cover letter to me as if I were a communicating editor, as if you were requesting publication of your manuscript in Trends in Plant Science.

Papers should be between 4000 and 6000 words in length, including all references and figure captions. This comes to about 10 to 15 pages single spaced, with about 3 to 4 figures/tables that are about ¼ to ½ page in size. Submit your paper double spaced.

You should try limit the number of figures/tables to between 2 and 4, although in rare instances 5 figures may be acceptable. These figures should be original, i.e., made wholly by you, unless you are able to get permission from the copyright holder (signed letter) to reproduce a figure found in another paper. As this is extremely unlikely, you should plan on making your own figures. These could include such items as chemical structures, protein structures, sequence alignments, gene structure diagrams, flow charts, other diagrams, photographs, etc. See what types of figures are included in articles published in Trends in Plant Science.

For a review of this type, you should expect to cite somewhere between 35 and 70 references. Reference citation style should match exactly the format given for Trends in Plant Science. I highly recommend that you use a program like EndNote or ProCite or somthing similar from the start as you write your paper-you will save hours or even days of time when it comes time for preparation of your reference list and for revisions.

You will be graded on the content, quality, format, and style of your final paper, after revisions.

Details on term paper presentations:

One fifth of your term paper grade will be based on your presentation of your paper to the class. You will have 12 minutes to present your term paper to the class, followed by 3 minutes for discussion. These presentations will be timed and you will be interrupted for questions at 12 minutes, even if you are not finished presenting your paper. So, keep it brief, to the point, and engaging.

Grade Breakdown

Your term paper grade will be based on the following criteria:

1. Meeting deadlines (at least 10%)

a. If you are late for any part of the term paper portion of this course, you will be docked 10% for first day, and 5% for each additional day, additive for all parts of the term paper assignment. For example, if you are one day late in turning in your term paper topic, you will be docked 10%. If you are then one day late in turning in your reviews of your classmates' papers, you will be docked an additional 5%, for a total of 15%. DON'T BE LATE!

b. If you meet all deadlines, no matter what the quality is of your work, you will be guaranteed at least 10% credit for this assignment. If you miss any deadline, this guarantee is forfeit.

2. Paper topic submission (5%)

a. Relevance of topic
b. Significance of topic and ideas

3. Format and style of paper (10%)

a. Matching Trends in Plant Science format and style in every detail
b. Writing in clear, precise English
c. Grammar, spelling and punctuation

4. Content of paper (45%)

a. Choice of subject
b. Clear, logical presentation of ideas
c. Quality of ideas
d. Clear presentation of current state of knowledge for topic
e. Quality of figures
f. Appropriate use of figures and/or tables
g. Appropriate use of citations
h. Appropriate papers cited
i. Response to reviewers' comments

5. Reviews of Classmates' papers (10%)

a. Proper use of tact
b. Helpful comments on style, formatting, grammar, spelling and content

6. Delivery and Quality of the presentation to the class (20%)

a. Professional appearance and conduct of presenter
b. Professional appearance of slides
c. Logical and clear presentation
d. Slides are easy to read
e. Slides show significant data, but aren't too cluttered
f. Presenter is easy to understand
g. Appropriate number of slides for time allotted
h. Remaining within time limits
i. Appropriate amount of background material in your introduction
j. Clear description of your paper
k. Knowledge of presenter
l. Appropriate responses to questions


Plant Sciences 620

Department of Plant Sciences
The University of Arizona
All contents copyright © 2002. All rights reserved.
Last revision December 19, 2002