The term paper is a 7-12 page (excluding references) review article on a biologically relevant topic that focuses on some relatively new advance in the field you are writing about. The new advance could be a new scientific study that helps us better understand the topic, or a new clinical study that helps identify a better therapy for any disease associated with the topic. This scientific or clinical study should have been published in peer-reviewed journal article and will be your “focus paper", that is, you will focus on this paper’s data and results. The focus paper should be recent (within the last 5 years) and be from the “primary literature”, it should be the first publication of the results and reporting of the study. In some cases you may decide to include two related focus papers. In your introduction to the topic, you should use additional references to provide a background to the studies reported so that the reader can understand the motivation for studies in the focus paper. In addition the background gives the state of the field before the new results were reported.
When discussing the new advance, you’ll want to make sure you clearly identify the hypothesis being tested in the focus paper’s studies, the key results, how the results contribute to the field and what the logical next steps are. You should spend some time discussing the results of the focus paper, and whether the results support or reject the hypothesis being tested. If you identify any shortcomings or ambiguities in the experiments or the results be sure to mention those as well.
Your paper should be well written, with clear sentences and organized paragraphs in a logical order, in way that makes the reader interested in the topic and what you have to say about it. You should also appropriately cite and credit to your sources. Un-cited lifting of material (i.e. plagiarism) or excessive used of quoted material will result in a grade deduction, or, in egregious cases, a failing grade on the paper.
The following rubric you may find helpful in organizing your paper:
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