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),
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
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.
Your term paper grade will be based on the following
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
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