BISC 495, Evolution, Spring 2017

Little paper

You are required to write a "little paper" that is due at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 4. Two points (out of a possible 15) will be deducted for each full day that the paper is late; you will get one point off if you turn it in after class but before 7 p.m. on May 4. As with all assignments, if you have printer problems, car problems, etc. and can't turn in the print version on time, your lateness penalty will depend on when you e-mail me the paper; you must then give me the print version at the next class or at my office (322 Wolf).

Everyone must e-mail the paper to me by the end of the day on May 4 (not just those with printer problems). The file can be in any format (Word, OpenOffice, Pages, pdf, plain text, etc.), and the name of the file must be your name (such as "JaneStudent.doc"). Unfortunately, I have had several cases of plagiarism in the past in this assignment. If I suspect your paper is plagiarized, the file will make it easier to search the web for matching sentences.

The topic of your big paper was a biological question, one that may have been addressed by a number of different techniques. For your little paper, your topic must be one kind of evolutionary experiment or observation. You should find a number of examples of this kind of experiment, and write about both how the experiments were done, and what they found. For example, the Kong et al. (2012) paper you read for the first day of class used whole-genome sequencing of parents and offspring to estimate the mutation rate. If that were the topic of your paper, you could write about the technical details involved in comparing whole-genome sequences of parents and offspring, and write about other papers that have used this technique, how they used it, and what they found. (Of course, now that I've used it as an example, you can't use "estimating mutation rate from whole-genome sequencing" as your topic; think of your own!)

Your topic must must be a technique that's used to answer evolutionary questions, and it cannot be something you wrote about in your big paper. You may use a kind of experiment that we talked about in class, but you don't have to. If you have an idea for a topic but aren't sure if it meets my criteria, or if you're struggling to think of a topic, let me know and I'll help.

The paper must be typed and have at least 8 full pages (i.e., to the bottom of page 8) of double-spaced text, not including figures or the reference list. Do not use unusually wide margins, large font, increased line spacing, etc. to make the 8-page limit; just grit your teeth and write some more. You must have some figures, but they don't count towards the 8 pages; thus if you have four half-page figures, your paper must be at least 10 pages long.

The reference list must include at least 15 references. You may cite web pages, but they do not count towards your minimum of 15 references. You may not cite Wikipedia; it can be a useful first step in researching a topic, but for this paper, you should look at the original references cited by the Wikipedian rather than trusting their interpretation.

You must follow all of the format instructions given for the big paper.


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