CVSC 438 / Biol
Updated : 07/26/2012
- BSC 428; 8227; email@example.com;
Texts: See CVSC 437/Biol 420
Last semester in
CVSC 437/Biol 421 we
focused on developing your research proposal.
two major goals:
- First we wanted to
introduction to scholarly literature. The goal was to
and develop a few specific testable hypotheses (in which data may be
collected that will support or refute these hypotheses).
- Secondly, we worked
of a formal research proposal that properly motivated a
research question as well as outlined a feasible procedural plan
to collect your data. We placed a great deal of emphasis on the
of experimental design including the development of adequate sampling
anticipation of analytic methods, and estimation of project costs.
semester in CVSC 438/Biol 421 your goals will be to:
- Complete data collection
- Prepare and submit an
abstract of your research to the Ohio Academy of Science for the spring
meeting. In order to allow ample time for review of your abstract
among all authors (be sure to list any faculty from the Wilds that
helped you as coauthors. See my example document for details) your abstracts will be due in for my review on 1 October.
- Develop a highly polished
draft of your thesis thorough the results section.
Learning Objectives: Course Leaning Objectives
extend directly from the Biology Department's Learning
Goals. In particular, the learning objectives for this
course emphasize Biology Department Learning Goals 2-4. As
a result of successfully completing this course, students will:
(1) Students will know, based
on the questions asked and the experimental design, whether to employ
descriptive and/or inferential statistics in order to interpret their
(2) Students will develop a
scientific abstract based on the results of their research which will
be submitted to the Ohio Academy of Sciences for potential acceptance
as a poster or oral presentation at the Spring 2011 spring meeting of
(3) Students will develop
figures/tables that will graphically illustrate their research findings.
(4) Students will develop a research
poster outlining the progess they made to date. They will present
their poster during the fall semester student internship colloquium in
Course Requirements for CVSC
- Within the two weeks of
each student will be responsible for establishing a weekly meeting time
with their research advisor
- You will prepare a poster
for the Science Division's Fall Research and Internship Poster Forum
- You will need to turn in
updated and revised versions of your introduction and methods sections
by the middle of the term.
- Students should plan on
submitting an abstract of their work to the Ohio Academy of Sciences in
early November in order to participate in the annual meeting that
- At the end of the term
will turn in a draft of your thesis that includes introduction,
methods, and results sections. The introduction and methods sections
should be more or less a final version (that is very polished) with
updated references to the new primary literature you have
read. The results section
need not be a final version, but it should be close and definitely
complete with figures, any tables and all major analyses complete.
Course Structure & Grading Policy:
Expect to meet as a
group during our class meeting time for at least part of the term. Our
will be focused on data analysis techniques as well as continuing to
read literature that can serve as a model or guide in developing your
final thesis paper. To the greatest
extent possible we want to encourage a group approach to the challenges
of data analysis and interpretation. You will generally have one
other regularly scheduled meeting each week with your research
advisor. Times for these weekly meetings will be established
during the first regular class meeting.
CVSC 438/Biol 421 has no tests or other typical "objective" means of
evaluating your performance. Your grade will be assessed based on
performance relative to the tasks for each semester.
I want to emphasize that my expectations are high in this regard. Once again, the overarching goal here
is to develop a formal scientific paper which will
include introduction, methods, results, discussion, and literature
cited sections. We have reviewed and discussed the distinct
"mission" of each of these sections to scientific papers as well
as what elements need to be included in each section, throughout your
coursework in this program. That being said, your advisor will be
glad to provide guidance to any questions you may have in developing
each part of your thesis paper. Your
research advisor will also guide
you as to details of form and style (and there may be some differences
among thesis advisors in their preferences in this regard, be sure to
ask your advisor about what s/he may be looking for in a polished
You should expect to work
hard and consistently on your project -
however in the end it will be the quality of what you turn in that will
determine your grade. As a means of providing models of the
kinds of work I am looking for, I have assembled copies of papers from previous years
evaluated as excellent. These documents are available for your
inspection and review - see your
research advisor for access.
For this semester
approximately 75% of your grade will be based on our evaluation of your
revised thesis paper and with about 25% determined by your
participation and performance in the Science
Division's Fall Research and Internship Poster Session, performance in
preparing for the OAS abstract
submission, and timely submission of quality drafts.
So what should
you think about in developing your "Results" section?
aim of this course is to produce a high quality draft of your thesis
through the results section we should be starting the semester with a
fairly strong foundation of introduction and methods, we might
start here with the question, "what is a results section and how do you
develop one?" To start with, we can say that the results is one
of the five major sections of a scientific paper (introduction,
methods, results, discussion, literature cited). It's really
very simple: the job of the results section is to present the important
findings from the research effort.
Almost as important as knowing
what a results section is, is knowing what it is not ... this is not
the part of the paper in which findings are interpreted (that is the
job of the discussion). In some ways then the challenge is
sort out what findings most directly bear on the questions
underpin the study, present those findings, and then move on.
Generally speaking your
results section should be designed to present information emerging from
analyses of the raw data you collected. Almost always, raw
data needs some form of analysis in order to extract whatever patterns
or insights about causal relationships that might exist (even simple
graphing means or sums constitutes forms of analysis).
The nature of your questions will suggest what sorts of analyses would
best serve your purposes (note: we will be working further on how to
make the question-analysis connection this term).
Once you finish data
collection and entry into Excel, your
next step will be to summarize your data. To do this, you may want to
calculate some descriptive statistics (very often means and standard
if you were looking at
feeding rates of birds at feeders that were at two different distances
woods (near, far), you might want to compute means and standard errors
of feeding rates you observed across replicated sites - each with
feeders set up in the same fashion. You
can use easily use Excel to accomplish this.
SPSS (the statistical package we discussed for sophisticated
statistical analyses) can be used if you'll need a great many or
variety of descriptive statistics. If you have collected
demographic data from some population (e.g., small mammals or birds),
you may need to use some kinds of estimation procedures (e.g., Program
Mark or Mayfield Methods) in order to develop statistics such as
population size, survival rates, reproductive success, movement rates
Once you have summarized your
data and/or developed any derived estimates you may need, your next
step will be to use Sigma Plot to generate graphs
(software is available on the computer in room 428 next to Danny
office). In particular, you should think about using bar or line
graphs to show the relationship between your dependent (response)
and independent (predictor variables). So, continuing with our
example, if you were looking at
feeding rates of birds at feeders that were at two different distances
woods, you might construct bar graphs with mean feeding rate on the "Y"
axis and different bars for each distance class from the
woods. Graphing your data will give you an initial sense of
what kind of patterns you might have. In the case of experiments,
graphing results can begin to guide your thinking about mechanisms that
might be driving responses.
After producing your initial
graphs and reflecting a bit on what they suggest, it is time to conduct
any inferential analyses that are appropriate. Before firing off
a bunch of SPSS tests, it is a good idea to once again revisit your
project questions. Doing so will help you frame out the details
of your analyses (e.g., the type of test, nature of test options you
may want to employ). Please be sure to see your research advisor
for input at this stage.
After your graphs and
statistical analyses are done it is time to start writing your results
section. Again, in many cases designing this section to
follow the sequence of your project questions can provide and
relatively straight-forward means of writing. Describe the
patterns/responses you see by reference to your figures first and then
follow up with references to statistical tests. For example:
"Feeding rates for sparrows
were highest near the woods (x
= 236.6 ± 13.1 g/hr) relative to more
distance feeders (x = 113.2 ± 24.2 g/hr). Indeed, feeding
were significantly higher at the near- relative to the far distant
sites (F = 16.7, d.f.
= 1, p < 0.03)."
In some cases
your questions are a bit open ended) if can be hard to sort out exactly
which findings need to be presented - work with your advisor in
addressing this issue. Your research advisor will be happy to
provide you with examples of papers that model this sort of approach to
developing a results section. Often reviewing other
papers at this stage with an eye towards the style they use (as opposed
to focusing on content which is what we typically do in reading journal
papers) can provide some important tips or insights that can prove very
goes into the abstract you submit to the OAS and what sort of format
should you follow?
An abstract is basically a
short digest of a research project. The abstract should:
The OAS allows for submission of two
types of abstracts from students: those describing finished projects
and those describing work in progress. Plan to follow the
instructions for preparing a "work in progress" abstract (a web link
will be provided) unless your instructor suggests otherwise to
you. Though abstracts are short, they are challenging to write
well. Your abstract is due in for my first review on 1 October.
- Precisely follow the
format outlined by the OAS - I can provide you with a "how-to" document
with examples - be sure to ask me for this.
- Be sure to list any faculty from the Wilds that helped you as coauthors.
- Provide a short (1-2
sentence) overview that motivates the research
- Clearly identify the
research objective or questions
- Identify the most important
results that have emerged thus far
- Provide a short (again 1-2
sentence) interpretation of those results