The Senior Exercise for each Chemistry and Biochemistry senior not in the Honors Program has two components, one written and one oral. At the end of the fall semester, students submit a review paper. During the spring semester, students prepare and present a thirty-minute talk on two papers about a contemporary research topic. A faculty organizer will hold a meeting early in the fall semester to review these guidelines and distribute a timeline for the exercise.
Objectives of the Senior Exercise
The Senior Exercise is intended to give you the opportunity to:
At the beginning of the Fall semester, each Chemistry and Biochemistry senior will select a senior research topic. Seniors who are currently working on an independent research project in the Department may select, with appropriate guidance from their faculty mentor, a topic related to their research project. Other students will select a topic from a list (representing a variety of research areas) assembled by the Chemistry Department faculty.
To adequately prepare oral and written presentations on a research topic, you should be able to (1) search the primary chemistry and biochemistry literature effectively using online databases, (2) find appropriate resources in the primary, secondary and reference literature to help you learn about your topic, (3) carefully read, analyze and critique research papers, and (4) organize and present effectively this newly acquired knowledge.
Much of the information in the primary research papers may be new to you. The goal of the exercise is for you to demonstrate a capacity to learn independently and to find appropriate resources to assist you. The faculty in the Department can be an important resource, so you are strongly encouraged to seek advice from a faculty mentor while reading your papers. But, do not expect that faculty member to read the paper for you, nor to reveal the meaning of it all the night before your presentation.
The paper will consist of a novel literature review of recent primary research literature in the field of your senior research topic. The format of this document should follow that of standard reviews, including an abstract, introduction, body, conclusion and references. The body should contain information gathered from at least 10 recent primary research articles (as well as other respected sources) and organized such that it gives a modern overview of the chosen topic. It is expected that the student will insert his/her own comments and perspectives into the paper using review convention. This paper will be 4000-6000 words in length and follow the style put forth in the ACS Style Guide.
Submission of Paper
Each student is responsible for submitting his/her paper in a common electronic format (ex. Word). The document must be submitted to the designated site by 4 PM on the last day of the fall semester finals.
Feedback will be given by the end of the first week of the spring semester. The faculty reviewer(s) will assess each paper and give it a grade of: excellent, very good, good, fair, poor or failing, based on criteria such as:
Work worthy of distinction is characterized by:
Work that is not satisfactory to pass is characterized by a deficiency in some of the criteria mentioned above, possibilities include:
Based on written literature review, the faculty may assign a paper to clarify aspects of the topic, or require that all or part of the literature review be rewritten.
The Oral Presentation
Each student will select two full, primary research papers (not communications, notes, or review articles) from the current literature on their topic. The two papers should be related to each other and, together, will be the topic of the oral presentation, which should explain, analyze and critique the research presented in the papers. Students should briefly introduce their topic with appropriate background information, discuss in detail the experimental methods and data, and explain the significance of the results. The oral presentation should be 30 minutes in length and will be followed by a 10-minute discussion period with questions by the faculty.
Each student must prepare an abstract of his or her oral presentation, about one-half page (typed, single spaced) in length. This abstract must cite the research papers used to prepare the presentation and must be distributed to each faculty member one week before the presentation. In addition, each student is responsible for placing a copy of their two research papers and abstract in the Reading Room one week before the presentation. The oral presentation may involve use of a chalkboard, overhead projector, computer display or other visual aids. However, the student is responsible for making certain that their medium is working properly.
The oral presentations will be given in the evenings in February. They are open to the public, and all students in the department are encouraged to attend. Attendance at all presentations is mandatory for all seniors, including those in the Honors program. Only scheduled courses or athletic games which conflict with the presentation times of other students are excuses for not attending.
The faculty discuss each oral presentation and arrive at a grade of: excellent, very good, good, fair, poor or failing, based on criteria such as:
Work worthy of distinction is characterized by:
Work that is not satisfactory to pass is characterized by:
Based on performance on the oral presentation, the faculty may assign a paper to clarify aspects of the presentation, or require that all or part of the oral presentation be given again.
updated Aug. 2013