Instructions for Completing the BIO 307 (Section 01) Writing Assignment

 

IMPORTANT: To receive the most points possible from this required writing assignment, carefully read and follow all of the instructions listed below exactly as they are written.  Failure to follow any of these instructions to the letter will automatically lead to a reduction in the number of extra credit points received and a possible deduction of 20 points from your course total!

You have been provided with the following Completed Sections of a scientific paper that examines the thermal biology of two species of lizards (Phrynosoma cornutum and Cnemidophorus sexlineatus) in New Mexico: Title, Introduction, Materials and Methods and Literature Cited.

 

Note: Since these are species, they must always be placed in italics; if they appear anywhere in your paper (including graphs, figures, tables, etc.) without being placed in italics, 2 points will be deducted from your total score! 

 

Your assignment is to complete a Results section that summarizes field data and tests three specific hypotheses in a journal-style scientific format.

This Results section should include both written and graphic/tabular summaries of the relevant data and whether the data support or refute the three hypotheses stated in the Introduction of your paper.

Do not hand in the Title, Introduction, Materials and Methods and Literature Cited sections Only the completed Results section!

 

All pages must be single-sided, double-spaced.

 

You must use the Ecology Data Sheet given to you at the time you pick up your Code Number to complete any portion of this writing assignment; papers using data from any other source for this purpose will not be accepted for credit and will result in automatic deduction of 20 points from your course total!

 

This initialed data sheet (the original not a copy) must be handed in with your completed writing assignment!  If the original, initialed data sheet is not handed in with your completed assignment, this will result in automatic deduction of 20 points from your course total!

 

Note: The data sheet (“Ecology Data Sheet.xlsx”) used by the class is changed each semester, so using a data sheet other than the one you were provided with at the time you picked up your code number will result in incorrect values being obtained and an automatic deduction of 20 points from your course total!

 

Remember, use only the initialed data sheet (or an electronic copy of this data sheet) provided to you at the time you pick up your Code Number to complete this writing assignment! 

 

If you would like an electronic copy of the Excel spreadsheet that contains these data (highly recommended), e-mail me (no later than 48 hours before the date and time the assignment is due) at rgillis@uwlax.edu and I will send you the file (called "Ecology Data Sheet.xlsx") as an attachment to my reply.

 

Note: All of the required statistical calculations and graphics can be performed using Microsoft’s Excel program. But remember, you must turn in the original, initialed data sheet you were given at the time you picked up your course Code Number with your completed writing assignment!

Instructions for Microsoft Excel: Although any computer that has Microsoft’s Excel program can be used to make scatter plots and bar graphs, some may not have had the “Data Analysis” tools installed, which are required to perform the statistical calculations for completing the writing assignment. The following information may help you to install these programs using Microsoft Office 2010: 

For Users of Microsoft Office 2010:

 

1. First click on the Data tab at the top of the screen.  Select the Data Analysis box located at the top right hand side of the screen.

 

2. From the Data Analysis Analysis Tools box, use the slider bar to locate the program you wish to use (i.e., Regression or t-test: Two Sample Assuming Unequal Variances), click on the program to highlight it and then click OK to start the program

 

3. If the Data Analysis tools box is not visible, you will have to install it onto your computer. To do this, begin by clicking on the File tab at the top of the screen.  Scroll down the screen until you see the button named Options under Help

 

4. Click on the Options button and scroll down the left-hand column (which starts with the General tab highlighted.  Click on the Add-Ins button and highlight the top bar, which should say “Analysis ToolPak”.  Click on the “Manage: Add-ins” Go button and the data analysis tools should be added to your computer.  

 

Note: If you are not on-line, you may be prompted to insert the original Microsoft Office 2010 disc that came with your computer.

 

The Use of Microsoft Excel Output in Your Paper

 

Note: Graphs created in Microsoft’s Excel using the default settings are not acceptable and will result in the loss of credit. They must be changed to an appropriate size and scale; the axes must be clearly labeled with the units specified, and they must contain an informative legend and title. 

 

Also, statistical outputs from Microsoft’s Excel program are not valid tables and will result in the loss of points if they are included in the paper – Do not include raw Microsoft Excel outputs as Tables in your paper!

Important: The only material created by the Excel program that you can include in your paper without losing points are properly formatted and labeled graphs (figures)!

Note: Each Table formed from raw Excel output that is included in your paper will result in an automatic deduction of 5 points from your total score!

For example, each of the following "Tables” created from an Excel program would result in a 5 point deduction!

Therefore, if you have any questions as to what constitutes “raw Excel output”, make sure to ask your instructor before including them in your paper! 

Also, if have any doubt as to what constitutes a properly formatted and labeled Table, see the section on “Tables” on Page A-3 of “Appendix A – Guidelines for Completing the Results Section of the Writing Assignment” in your spiral bound Lecture Notes packet!

Note: Appendix A also includes a clear set of instructions for creating and labeling figures, preparing a Results section, etc.  Follow these guidelines to the letter!

Also remember that your paper will be graded on style as well as content.  If your writing contains major errors in grammar, incorrect word usage, punctuation, rhetoric, sentence structure, clarity, spelling, etc. the amount of extra credit given will be reduced substantially!

 

Appendix B Statistical & Graphical Techniques for Completing the Writing Assignment is also provided at the end of your Outline Notes as a review for the use and interpretation of the statistical or graphical techniques needed to complete the writing assignment. This appendix also includes specific information on using Microsoft’s Excel program to construct graphs or perform any required calculations.

 

You are to identify your completed work only by your assigned Code Number (in boldface), which should be placed in the upper right hand corner of the first page using the following format – Code Number: ###. 

 

Note: If your code number is not placed in boldface (or your name appears anywhere on the paper other than on the Signature Sheet), 2 points will be deducted from your total score!

 

The word "Results" in boldface should be placed in the upper left hand corner of the first page.  

 

Your completed Results section should include both written and graphic/tabular summaries of the relevant data and whether the data support or refute the three hypotheses you have stated in the Introduction of your paper.

 

The completed pages should appear in this order:

 

(1) The first page of your Results should include only text (i.e., no tables or graphs) and your Code Number (in boldface). 

 

(2) Any tables or graphs you wish to include should be attached following the first (or second) page of text of your completed assignment. 

 

(3) The last two pages of the completed writing assignment should be (in this order): The original, initialed Ecology Data Sheet you were provided with at the time you picked up your Code Number and a signed and dated Signature Page.

 

Writing assignments will not be accepted for credit without these last two pages attached, and will result in an automatic 20 point deduction from your course total!

 

Important Note: Make sure that you carefully read this Signature Page before you hand in your assignment for credit. The terms and conditions outlined in this Signature Page represent a binding contract between you and the instructor that cannot be broken once you have handed in your paper!

 

If you have questions, see your instructor (and no one else!) well before the deadline approaches! Seeking help from persons other than your instructor constitutes Academic Misconduct (since the assignment is to be completed without collaboration with anyone but your instructor), which can result in an automatic loss of 20 points from your course total and possible disciplinary action!

 

Important Note: The cutoff date for receiving help on this project from your instructor (or retrieving your Data Sheet) is 48 hours (two days) before it is due, that is, 9:00 A.M., 9 April 2014. After this date and time, you will not be permitted to pick up your data sheet and will receive an automatic deduction of 20 points from your course total!

 

To receive any extra credit, completed writing assignments (containing a signed and dated Signature Page and the original, initialed Ecology Data Sheet you were provided with at the time you picked up your course Code Number) must be turned in personally to your instructor (i.e., not left on his desk, slid under his door, placed in his mail box, etc.) no later than 9:00 A.M.~ Friday ~ 11 April 2014.

 

After this date and time, writing assignments will not be accepted and you will have 20 points deducted from your course total!

 

If you wait until the last minute to turn in your project, and something unforeseen happens, you will be out of luck!

 

ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

 

When summarizing measurement data, always include sample sizes, measures of central tendency (i.e., means) and dispersion (i.e., standard deviation).  Also, all mean values should be rounded to one decimal place (i.e., 5.6, 0.4, 63.5); all other statistics (i.e., t-statistics, correlation and regression values, etc.) should be rounded to two decimal places (i.e., 5.62, 0.72, 63.55 and not 5.6, 0.7, 63.471)

 

Note: If you include more than one digit after the decimal place for any reported means or more than two digits after the decimal place for any other statistics anywhere in the paper (i.e., text, tables, figures, graphs, etc.), 2 points will automatically be deducted from your total score for each occurrence!

 

Any conclusions you draw from the sample data must be supported by the appropriate statistics (i.e., t-statistics, regression coefficients, correlation coefficients, etc.).

 

This means you will have to carefully analyze the data using the appropriate statistical procedures to test stated hypotheses and reveal possible differences; you must also understand what the statistics are or are not telling you.  If you are not sure how to do this, get help well before the deadline for turning in your paper!

 

Failure to make effective use of the appropriate statistical techniques for analyzing data will lead to the loss of points. Also, including every possible statistic (a “shotgun approach”) in the hope that one or more of them are appropriate will result in the loss of points.  Any statistic that is included must be used, referred to and interpreted correctly, especially if it is used to test a stated hypothesis!

 

To do a good job on this writing assignment requires the investment of a considerable amount of time and effort – this is a term project!  If you are unwilling or unable to do both (which will be the case if you wait until the last minute), you will receive very few if any extra credit points.

 

Remember, your assignment is to prepare the Results section for submission to a scientific journal. All journals require that their Instructions to Authors (in this case, the Writing Assignment handout) must be followed to the letter. To receive the most points possible, you must do so as well.

 

Also remember that this is your paper – the data are yours, and only you are writing the paper (thus, do not include statements such as:  “we find, we can conclude, our data show”, etc).

 

Review the hypotheses to be tested – you must indicate in your Results section (with supporting statistics or figures) whether each of the hypotheses was supported or refuted by the data.

 

But… Do not include a bunch of statistical junk in your Results section, such as tables with degrees of freedom, critical values, etc.  In other words, do not give the readers a lesson in statistics and what they mean – They already understand this even if it’s news to you.  If you are not sure about what to include and not to include, see your instructor well before the deadline for the paper approaches!

 

Again, if you use the words “conclude with 95% certainty”, “critical value”, “degrees of freedom”, “confidence interval”, “probability”, “null hypothesis”, etc. anywhere in your paper, you are not reporting the results in the correct manner and will have points deducted from your total!

 

If you do not know how or when to perform the appropriate statistical tests, find out by reading the applicable sections of Appendix B - Basic Statistics for Biologists in your spiral-bound outline notes and check how the authors in the references cited did this!

 

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY

 

Once again, please remember your responsibility for maintaining academic integrity as outlined in the student handbook and UWS policies.

 

The work you turn in is to be your own, using only the data provided to you in your initialized, original data sheet and not that of any other students (past or present)!

 

The project should be completed without collaboration with others (with the exception of help from your instructor). To do otherwise constitutes academic misconduct!

 

Graded writing assignments will be returned to you after you have completed the Final Exam.  Please do not ask to see your paper before this time!


Return to the BIO 307 Course Syllabus   

 

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