EEB2244W Fall 2012: Prof. Turchin

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Dr. Peter Turchin | Office: TLS 462, Phone: 486-3603, e-mail:


Oct. 31

SCHEDULE OF MEETINGS WITH PROF. TURCHIN We will meet today (Wednesday, Oct. 31) at 2 pm as was annoubnced previously

The second meeting is Thursday, Nov. 1 at 5:00 pm

Both meetings will take place in my lab, TLS 462

Please e-mail to me if you are unable to come to one of these sessions.

Oct. 29


Oct. 26


I will be sending graded second assignments to each of you by next Monday.

Next week I will also be meeting with all of you to discuss the progress so far and answer any questions that you might have. These meetings will take place in TLS 462 at the following times:

Tuesday Oct. 30 at 3:00 pm Wednesday Oct. 31 at 2:00 pm

Please sign up for one of these times by sending me an e-mail. Also let me know if you cannot make either of them, and I will try to find another time slot.

Sept. 24


Assignment 1 has been graded (for almost all of you - who submitted on time). However, several people have still to submit this assignment to me, even though the deadline was last Friday. Note that it is your responsibility to keep track of deadlines and submit your work on time. All information you need is posted here:

Some of you have asked me about information appearing on HuskyCT relevant to the W part. Ignore it, it's instructions from other faculty 'leaking in.' All you need to know and do is posted on my Eebedia page at the link above. (Obviously, don't ignore the non-W part of EEB2244!)

For your next assignment, which is due on Friday, Oct. 19 you need to submit

(1) A rough draft of the Introduction

(2) A revised outline, reflecting my comments on Assignment 1.

Remember that you are writing a scientific paper. The core of doing science is explaining things. So you paper should be not about describing something, but about explaining an interesting pattern or asking and answering an interesting question.

Usually there are more than one potential explanations - they are called hypotheses (note that singular is hypothesis, plural is hypotheses). Your paper's goal is to identify an interesting problem, discuss potential explanations (hypotheses), and review empirical studies that bear on these explanations.

The introduction is a key part, probably the most important part of the paper. It is structured as an 'inverted funnel' - wide at the beginning, narrow at the end. The first paragraph starts with the broad picture. In it you should explain why the general topic of your paper is important and interesting. Next you rapidly narrow down to the specific focus of your paper. Describe what you are trying to explain and what are the possible explanations.

In the last paragraph of the introduction provide the reader with a roadmap to the rest of your paper. Use direct language and first person (‘I’). You can say something like this, “In the first section I discuss this. In the next section I address the first hypotheses …” and so on.

The introduction should be short, around 500-700 words. Leave detailed discussion of the data for the main body of the paper.

Finally, note that you will be rewriting the Introduction two more times. The first one will be when you write the rough draft, because the stuff you end up putting in the main body will affect the structure of the introduction. The second time you will rewrite it as part of producing the final draft.

A final note: I will be traveling during the next two weeks, so we will communicate by e-mail. I will schedule meetings with all of you after I grade Assignment 2 (this will be during the week of Oct. 29).

Sept. 7


The first thing you should do is go to this web site:

Read carefully all materials posted there and follow the links in the last section, 'EEB2244W Resources'. Don't delay, because the first assignment is due soon. Read all the materials before you ask me questions! The answer is likely to be there.


1. SUBMITTING YOUR WORK Submit your work in electronic form by e-mail. Documents in the old MS Word formats (*.doc) are preferred. If you use another word processor, save your text as Rich Text Format (*.rtf) and e-mail it to me. I will return your graded work also by e-mail. My comments will be added using the "Track Changes" feature in Word.

Your text should be SINGLE SPACED, 12 point. Don’t use underlining – use italics for emphasis.

2. ASSIGNMENT 1 INSTRUCTIONS Your Assignment 1 is to prepare an outline of your paper. The outline should be a bulleted/numbered list of phrases (not complete paragraphs). If you use Word, format it as "Outline Numbered" (under "Bullets and Numbering", at least in my version of Word). An example of an outline can be found here:

(scroll down to Step 4, MAKE A TENTATIVE OUTLINE). In general, this web site gives excellent advice on writing a research paper.

Course Goals

The goals of this course are to help you learn to present your ideas and arguments in clear, well-organized prose and to introduce you to library research in biology. Because it is a science course, some of what you learn about writing will apply principally to scientific writing, but your efforts in this course will also translate into enhanced skills in other writing tasks.
The assignments are geared towards writing a term paper on a subject that interests you in ecology. It is very important that you devote time and thought to your choice of topic so that you enjoy the research that goes into this paper. Your instructor will help you. By the end of the course, you will be an expert on this topic!


  • Meetings: All W students must sign up for and attend one library resources session during the 1st or 2nd week of classes. Sign-up is through HuskyCT. Failure to attend one of these sessions may result in being dropped from the W section.

  • Quizzes: All students must pass the online quizz on plagiarism, which will be administered through HuskyCT.

  • Assignments: The final written product in this course is a review paper that defends a significant claim in ecology using data from the primary literature. This paper should be 4500-5000 words in length (about 15 pages) and cite a minimum of 8 references from the primary literature. Primary literature is written by the author(s) of the scientific research. Secondary literature is written by someone other than the author and could contain factual errors. To guide you through the process of researching and writing your paper, there are four term paper assignments.


Plagiarism is presenting someone else’s ideas or words as your own. In its most blatant form, it involves quoting without quotation marks or without proper attribution of credit, including doing so from another student’s paper or from a commercially available one. This form of plagiarism will result in an F for the course. Paraphrasing without giving credit or changing only a few words (i.e., paraphrasing too closely) even if you give credit are also examples of plagiarism. Penalties for these forms of plagiarism will range from a requirement to rewrite the assignment (if proper citations are included) to a 0 for the assignment to an F for the course (if proper citations are not included). Of course, you’ll be discussing the ideas of others in your paper, but you must express the ideas in your own words and cite the reference for each idea that is not your own in the text. Direct quotes, even with quotation marks, are to be used sparingly if at all (see writing tips/advice below).

Schedule and Deadlines

Due date Assignment Details
Fri., Sept. 21 Term paper assignment #1: topic and outline A brief description of your term paper topic, an outline, and a list of at least 3 references you plan to use, including at least one recent reference (2011 or later). The references should be listed in the proper format for a "Literature Cited" section (see citations page for details). Correspondence with your instructor about possible topics before this deadline is expected.
Fri., Oct. 19 Term paper assignment #2: introduction The Introduction should be about 500-700 words in length. Also, include a revised outline. This outline should take into account feedback received on the first assignment.
Week of Oct. 29 Instructor meetings To discuss assignment #2.
Fri., Nov. 16 Term paper assignment #3: complete draft Turn in a complete draft of your term paper in the required format. This should reflect a serious effort on your part to produce an already polished paper that you have edited (repeatedly) and proofread carefully. The previously submitted portion should be revised in response to instructor feedback.
Fri., Dec. 7 Term paper assignment #4: revision Final draft with revisions based on comments received on draft.


Term paper assignment 1 (topic and outline) 10%
Term paper assignment 2 (introduction)15%
Term paper assignment 3 (complete draft)25%
Term paper assignment 4 (final revision)50%

Grading notes

  • Your grade in the W section is one quarter of your course grade in EEB 2244W. In accordance with university regulations, a failing grade for this section will result in an ‘F’ for the entire course.
  • 3% of the points will be deducted for each day an assignment is late. However, each student is entitled to 2 free late days (the first 2 used, no questions asked).
  • No assignment will be accepted until all previous requirements have been met. For example, this means that you cannot submit a revised term paper unless you submitted, and received feedback on, a complete draft.
  • Quiz scores are not used in calculating W grades. However, students must receive at least the minimum passing score indicated on HuskyCT prior to submitting the assignment 2.


Use this checklist before submitting your draft. It will help you avoid common problems. We also suggest that you review the term paper assignment and any additional information provided by your instructor.

  • Does your paper begin with an abstract that summarizes your main points?
  • Does your paper have a clear thesis statement? See this blog entry on thesis statements for more information (although it was written for EEB2245W, all the points it makes apply).
  • Does the introduction give readers enough context and background to follow your arguments?
  • Have you supported all of your claims with evidence from the primary literature?
  • Have you cited sources properly in the text and literature cited sections? (See the citation page and quiz 1 on HuskyCT for reminders on how to do this).
  • Do you use at least 8 primary sources?
  • Does your paper have an informative title?
  • Have you formatted scientific names properly? (See the scientific writing tips sheet for more information.)
  • Have you proofread a printed copy of your paper? It helps to read the paper out loud.
  • Have you checked the spelling? Remember that MSWord doesn't always know the scientific lingo, so don't assume it's right. (For example, it will want to turn phylogenetic into phylogenic. Don't let it!)
  • Did you follow the formatting and length requirements?

Getting Help

There are many resources available to help you succeed in this course, but you need to seek them out. Good places to start are listed below. Be sure to take advantage of these resources!

  • the #EEB2244W Resources links below: these provide more information about specific assignments and tips to help you avoid common problems.
  • the UConn Writing Center: the Writing Center offers individual meetings with tutors (it’s free). Past experiences of students in this class have been very positive.
  • Suegene Noh's EEB 2245W blog: this blog was aimed toward students in 2245W during the Spring 2008 semester, but much of the information is still relevant and you are strongly encouraged to look at what Suegene has posted.
  • your W instructor

EEB2244W Resources

Term Paper Assignment

General rules for citing sources in scientific writing

Scientific writing advice

Writing Tips

Library session information