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Biology: Senior Seminar

Basic search tips and strategies for biology students

Requesting Article Copies

Please email all article copy requests to:

Identifying a Research Article

A research article is a scholarly article that essentially reports the results of original, primary research and typically appears in peer-reviewed or refereed periodicals.  For this reason, research articles are considered the pinnacle of information sources. Research articles are almost always written in the same format.  Understanding the format of research articles should help you to more easily navigate databases and select appropriate sources for you to use for your research.  Most research articles incorporate five standard elements. The format that research articles follow mirror the research process.  

  1. Introduction: summarizes the problem researched, its significance, and the nature of the study
  2. Literature review: provides a framework for understanding the problem and the theoretical rationale behind conducting the study; sources cited are typically listed at the end in some sort of reference page
  3. Methodology: describes how the data were collected, including things like the population studies and the data collection instrument used
  4. Results/findings: presents a summary of the data collected, typically in the form of charts and tables with accompanying narrative
  5. Discussion/conclusion: includes such information as the interpretation of the data, recommendations for further study, and limitations of the study.

Other elements that you many find in research articles are an abstract or summary, information about the author(s), and a list of references.  The references can be very helpful in directing your to other possible sources of information.

"The student's survival guide to research," M.L. McAdoo, p. 123-4.

It is important to remember that the articles you locate to use in your topic presentation need to be about primary research, an original study or experiment.  

While most articles will have a brief literature review included, this should not be the main focus of the articles that you select to use for this assignment. If you use the information provided above and keep in mind what was discussed in class, you should not have any problem locating up-to-date and relevant research articles!

Interlibrary Loan Requests

If you send citations via email to the library ( through EBSCOhost databases like Academic Search Premier, all of the information needed to locate the article is automatically included.

If you send citations from resources located on publisher websites or PubMed you should copy and paste the citation provided into an email.  Make sure the citation includes the following:

Article author, Article title, Journal title, volume and issue numbers, Date of issue, page numbers for article.

We are happy to get article copies for you no matter where you find the citations, from our databases or a webpage.  Remember this is a service we provide for you as a Newman student at NO charge!

Topic Presentation

Topic Presentation

Students will present a specific topic from our textbook over a major theme in Biology and lead a brief discussion on the topic. Summaries read from notes will not count towards the final grade – this will be a formal presentation in an electronic format (Power Point, Prezi, etc…).

  • Using peer-reviewed/ reputable journals/ articles, students should research one of the listed topics from one of the textbook chapters.
  • No fewer than 3 peer-reviewed/ reputable sources should be referenced (“peer-reviewed” will be explained in class). At least one of these sources must be a peer reviewed journal article.
  • Sign up for presentation dates will be done on the first week of class.  Topics must be approved by your professor at least two weeks in advance.  Failure to do this will result in a 5 point deduction from your presentation score. A hard copy of the presentation, including the bibliography is due at the beginning of the class in which you are presenting. Internet links without suitable supporting information do not count as a bibliography.
  • Presentations should last 12-15 minutes to allow time for questions and discussions. Approximately two presentations (1 textbook chapter) will be scheduled each week. Plan to be in class on the day of your presentation- there will be no make-up presentations.
  • Presentation grade will be based on understanding of the topic, organization, clarity, adherence to time limit, effort, and creativity. A rubric will be passed out on the first day of class.

Grading Rubric

Grading Criteria
Speaking Skills: eye contact, not reading from cards or slides, pacing, tone, posture, gestures, etc… 15 points
Visual Presentation: nonverbal help for the audience including clear, readable, interesting, and appropriate slides, appropriate number of slides, proper spelling and notation, etc… 15 points
Clearly explained the purpose or objective of the presentation 10 points
Organized Presentation (Shows clear focus and connectivity throughout; follows a clear plan) 10 points
Demonstrates an appropriate level of understanding of the content areas, shows evidence of critical thinking, and incorporates appropriate references to the literature. 10 points
Includes an appropriate graph/table of data and explains it properly. 10 points
References: Minimum of 3 outside peer-reviewed/ reputable sources including at least 1 peer-reviewed journal article.  Bibliography submitted at start of presentation, in suitable format. 10 points
Adherence to Time Limit (12-15 minutes) 10 points
Student/ Faculty Feedback via separate rubrics 10 points


Sample Reference List