Guidelines for BIO 154 Term Paper


      Papers are due by noon on Friday, Nov. 19th.  No late papers will be accepted.  The paper will account for 40% of your final grade.        


      FORMAT (follow strictly):

      Maximum length will be 10 pages (not including references), double spaced, 1-inch margins, 12 pt. Times New Roman.


      Your name, TA's name

      Abstract (~150 words)

      Literature review (~6 pages)

      Experimental Proposal (~3 pages)

      -     Specific aim

      -       Proposed experiment(s)

      -       Expected outcomes and interpretations

-       Possible pitfalls and solutions



      TOPIC: Choose any topic within the fields of molecular and cellular neurobiology.  Make sure that your topic is narrow enough to allow an effective review of the current literature, but broad enough to provide a sufficient amount of information. (e.g., literature review section on "mechanisms of axon guidance" is too broad, "molecular mechanisms of olfactory receptor neuron axon targeting" would be more appropriate). If you have trouble coming up with a topic, contact your TA.  It is required that you discuss your choice with one of us, preferably after you have completed a preliminary literature search, but before you have started writing.  A detailed outline will also help.


      PART I: In the first part of your paper, present a concise review of the literature, synthesizing concepts from multiple sources.  If there is a controversy surrounding your topic, present data from different viewpoints. 

-       Review major findings of the field, citing appropriate literature

-       This section should provide background for and motivate the subsequent experimental proposal, in which you propose experiments investigating a key unanswered question in the field. Provide relevant background, describe the question you plan to answer, and tell us why investigating this question is important.

-       Include figures if necessary


      PART II: In the second part of your paper, critically examine the recent work, and suggest future experiments that could help to advance the field.  What new data could help to complete the big picture?  Do not suggest experiments that would require new technology that are not currently available.

-       Specific aim (the hypothesis you want to test): Present a testable hypothesis addressing the question you proposed in the literature review.

-       Proposed Experiment(s): Avoid discussing unnecessary details (does not matter: concentration of solutions, type of forceps, etc. does matter: necessary controls, techniques to be used (knock-out, in vitro explants, etc.))

-       Outcomes and Interpretation: Describe potential results, how you would interpret them, and relate them to your hypothesis/question.

-       Pitfalls: Briefly mention the major way(s) you think your experiments can fail, and describe possible solutions to them (for example by briefly describing an alternative approach).

-       Do not use techniques that don't exist.

-       Include figures if necessary. A good idea is to include a fake data figure that shows the proposed outcome of the experiment.  


      GRADING: While grading, we will consider many factors, including:

            --a concise literature review that places your topic in context

            --a demonstration of a clear understanding of your topic

            --evidence that you have thought about and synthesized concepts

            --proposals of experiments that will further the topic