Syllabus: Bio 399(Z)/499(Z)

Supervised Research (Writing Intensive) for Juniors and Seniors
Communication and Reasoning Competencies: Written Discourse

  • Coordinator: Dr. Robert Osuna (; ph: 591-8827; Office: LS 2062
    The Department Office (; ph: 442-4395; Office: Bi 126

  • Permission Form and instructions

  • See also the material about Undergrad Research Opportunities

  • COURSE DESCRIPTIONABio 399/499 Supervised Research for Juniors (1-3) Seniors (1-4)
    Individual, independent research on selected topics in biology. Critical analysis of selected research papers. Junior/senior majors in Biology apply for this course through the prospective research adviser. Students taking two or more semesters of ABIO 399, 399Z, 499, or 499Z will prepare a poster or make an oral presentation at the Departmental Research Symposium. A copy of the final written report of each semester’s work, preferably typewritten in journal format, is kept on file in the department.

      • ABIO 399 & ABIO 499 (or Z components) are intended to engage students in a specific field of research by using the scientific method of investigation, so they may research a topic, develop an argument, organize supporting details, and produce coherent texts within common college-level written forms.
      • ABIO 399/499 do not have stated pre-requisites, however, individual supervisors may request that students have completed course work in specific areas such as genetics, molecular bio, chemistry etc.
      • Perquisite for ABIO 399Z/499Z is 2 prior credits of ABIO 399 or 499; supervisors may also request course work in specific areas.
      • 4 credits over 2 semesters in ABIO 399/499 (or Z) may be used to fulfill 1 lab requirement for the B.S. degree.
      • ABIO 399/499 (and Zs) may contribute a total of 4 credits toward the biology major.
      • A maximum of 6 credits may be earned in ABIO 399/399Z and 8 credits in ABIO 499/499Z
    •   GRADING (A-E)
      • While not easy to evaluate this experience with a single letter grade, a level of consistency and fairness in grading may be achieved by considering, wherever possible, similar evaluation criteria.
        • TIME:  3 hours of work/ per week/ per credit Fall/Spring Semester or 8-10 hours/ week/ credit Summer session. At times during the semester, students may need more time to study for exams, which may temporarily affect their availability for research. However, students should discuss this with their supervisor, and plan to make up this time in other weeks.
        • TRAINING:  Students are expected to make reasonable progress in responding to lab training by learning and correctly executing the required laboratory techniques.
        • MOTIVATION:  Students are expected to show genuine interest and become intellectually involved in their research problem. This may be demonstrated (among other ways) by:
          • - Completing assigned readings for their research (e.g. advanced textbook chapters, published papers, previous lab theses, etc.)
          • - Level of preparation for any lab presentations (at least one presentation per semester would be appropriate, where the student may receive feedback from the various lab members)
          • - Frequency or kind of questions asked and interest in discussing the research with their supervisor.
          • - Level of responsibility and dedication toward their experiments.
        • DATA COLLECTION:  Students are expected to maintain a well-kept lab notebook, containing accurate and detailed notes regarding each experiment, data collected, and conclusions arrived at. It should be organized, neat, and legible.
          • Students are required to write a research paper for each registration of this course and submit to the Undergraduate Research Coordinator within 5 business days of the last day of each semester. Late papers may receive a grade of Incomplete for one semester only.
          • The research paper should follow a scientific publication form, which must include:
          • - Title and author (s)
          • - Introduction (with cited references within the text)
          • - Materials and Methods (with cited references within the text)
          • - Results (including relevant data and figure legends)
          • - Discussion (with cited references within the text)
          • - References
        • The final grade a student receives should take all of the above aspects of the research experience into consideration. It is OK to assign a grade inferior to A, if one or more of  the criteria are less than excellent. However, a student’s grade should not be strictly based on the success of his or her experiments.
        • It is a good idea to discuss these and other expectations with a student at the beginning of each semester, and to discuss their progress regularly throughout the semester. 

    • Evaluation
      (E to D+)
      (C- to C+
      (B- to B)
      Very Good
      (B+ to A-)
      Amount of time devoted          
      Response to training          
      Data Collection          
      Research Paper          

      • Prior to the final grade deadline, Supervisors may request a grade of incomplete, that includes a target date for completion of the work.
      • The date should have little or no overlap with the next semester so that it does not conflict with the student’s other assignments or other research aims.

SUPERVISORS: Note University criteria below before agreeing to mentor a student in Writing Intensive versions of this course.

    • PREREQUISITES:  2 previous credits of ABIO 399 or ABIO 499.
    • UNIVERSITY CRITERIA INCLUDE (generally a substantial body of finished work):
      • Specifically:  A research paper consisting of approximately 20 double-spaced pages involving at least two     (preferably more) submissions.
      • Response to Student Writing:  Student’s should receive extensive comments from the instructor.
      • Required Revision: Students are expected to revise their written work, accordingly.
      • Opportunity for Students to Receive Assistance in Progress: It is expected that students will receive help in writing from the instructor during scheduled meetings.  The Writing Center (HU140) may also be used as a resource.
      • Writing Intensive course at the lower division, with grades of C or higher or S (generally completed in the freshman or sophomore year) and a
      • Writing Intensive course at or above the 300 level, normally within the major.
      • These courses use writing as an important tool in the discipline studied and are not designed primarily to teach the technical aspects of writing.  Emphasis is on using writing as a means of sharpening critical thinking and understanding of the subject