Form for Requesting a Writing Code (W) for a Research Independent Study Course
What is Writing Intensive Independent Studies?
All students enrolled in Independent Studies in Biology must complete a written report at the end of the semester. However, only those students who sign up for the “W-designation” receive university credit for that writing activity. If interested in attaching a W to your Independent Study, you should ask your research mentor to agree to work with you on your writing skills throughout the semester.
Please note that you can only receive university credit for the W-designation for one semester of Independent Studies. If you are planning on two or more semesters of Independent Studies in the same lab then you are advised to defer the official application for the W-designation until the second semester. Although you cannot receive writing credit for more than one semester, some students prefer to do the writing for the W-designation across both semesters (versus completing all the writing for the W-designation in one semester). If you are interested in this option, discuss it with your research mentor or your Writing Advisor at the beginning of the first semester of your Independent Studies.
What does a W-designation involve?
A Writing Intensive Independent Study should, as much as possible, follow the guidelines for any W-designated course, which are:
- The student should write frequently throughout the term – periodically submitting either several discrete writing projects or drafts or sections of a longer project;
- The faculty member should comment on these writings with advice toward revision;
- The student and faculty member should meet regularly to discuss the student’s writings;
- The uses of writing in the discipline should be one of the focuses of the Research Independent Study; and
- A significant percentage of the grade awarded for a W-designated Research Independent Study should reflect the growth and quality of the student’s work as a writer.
How do I sign up?
A “Request for Writing Code for Research Independent Study Course” Form should be signed by the student, research supervisor, faculty sponsor (if different from research supervisor). The form also requires the signature of the DUS of the Department where you are registering for the Independent Study. If enrolling for BIO 293/493, submit the form to the Biology DUS Office, Bio Sci Room 135. If enrolling through Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Neurobiology, Pathology, Immunology, Pharm & Cancer Biology or MGM, you should get the signature of their DUS or DGS. The form is due to 011 Allen Building by the drop/add deadline, so allow enough time before the end of the drop/add to obtain the DUS/DGS signature. You should discuss the specific writing expectations with your Research Supervisor before submitting the form. A copy of the student's writing schedule (see below) with the research supervisor's signature on it should also be submitted to the DUS office along with the request form.
What do I have to write?
At the beginning of the semester, your Research Supervisor will give you a set of written instructions on how to write each of the required components discussed below: a project proposal, literature review, and final paper. At each stage, the writing should be understandable to a scientifically literate reader from an unrelated field of biology.
1. The proposal (1-2 pages) should contain:
- a brief introduction to the problem
- describe the question(s) asked
- the main methodologies to be used
- cite one to three key references.
Your Research Supervisor will review your proposal during your meeting in week 3 of the semester, suggest corrections and immediately give an informal grade to orient you on the level of your work. One week later, you should submit a corrected version to your Research Supervisor. Once again, she/he will review your proposal during your meeting, suggest corrections, and give a final grade.
2. The literature review (5-10 pages) should contain:
- an extended introduction
- a description of the outstanding questions in the field
- a description of the particular points addressed by the project
- an outline of possible outcomes
- an overview of the approaches followed, with possible alternative plans if the primary ones do not work.
Your Research Supervisor will review your literature review during your meeting in week 6 of the semester, suggest corrections and immediately give an informal grade to orient you on the level of your work. One week later, you should submit a corrected version to your Research Supervisor. Once again, she/he will review your proposal during your meeting, suggest corrections, and give a final grade.
3. The final paper (10-15 pages) should be organized as a typical professional scientific paper** with:
- materials & methods
Your Research Supervisor will review your final paper during your meeting in week 12 of the semester, suggest corrections and immediately give an informal grade to orient you on the level of your work. Two weeks later, you should submit a corrected version to your Research Supervisor. Once again, she/he will review your proposal during your meeting, suggest corrections, and suggests final corrections. During reading-period/finals week, the student finalizes the paper and hands it in for grading. The final grade should integrate the performance at all three writing stages.
** Depending on the degree of completion of the actual experiments at that point, the relevant parts of the paper may contain gaps. If the experiments do not provide sufficient data for a full experimental paper, the final write-up should have an expanded introduction and reduced material and methods and Results sections. The discussion should address possible reasons for the experimental shortcomings or failures.
How often would I meet with my Research Supervisor to work on writing?
You should plan to meet with your Research Supervisor approximately 9 times throughout the semester. The following schedule is a rough outline of when these meetings should occur. It is the student’s responsibility to arrange the exact dates and times of these meetings.
|Week||Meetings with Research Supervisor||Writing due|
|1||Student gets written instructions|
|3||Discuss draft of proposal||Proposal|
|4||Discuss proposal||Revised proposal|
|6||Discuss draft of literature review||Literature Review|
|7||Discuss literature review||Revised Literature Review|
|10||Discuss outline of report||Outline of Report due|
|12||Discuss 1st draft of Report||1st draft of Report due|
|14||Discuss 2nd draft of Report||2nd draft of Report due|
|15||Drop off final draft (and celebrate!)||Final draft of Report|