BME140, Fall 2011, Section 01: Homework

Homework Assignment Schedule

Due Article summary Worksheet
10/3/2011 PCR  
10/10/2011 Pyrosequencing, Sentinel-based DNA genotyping  
10/11/2011 Current Rectification at Quartz Nanopipet Electrodes Worksheet 1
10/13/2011 Rapid electronic detection of probe-specific microRNAs using thin nanopore sensors  
10/18/2011 The Discovery of Giant Magnetoresistance  
Due Assignment Specifics
10/27/2011 Instrument proposal assignment  
11/14/2011 Lab Report Specifications (sent by email) PCR Protocol
11/17/2011 Introduction to Flow Cytometry One paragraph report

Scientific research article discussion

When reading scientific articles, answer the following questions (max one page):

1. What was the overall goal of the paper?

2. Summarize the general approach/strategy.

3. What specific techniques were used?

For example: Western blotting was used to determine whether protein A is expressed inmouse cardiac cells

4. Are the data consistent with the conclusions?

Consider this question for each experiment and for the overall conclusions; report onlythe overall findings.

5. Are there any alternative explanation for the conclusions drawn from the experiments?

6. Was the overall goal of the study accomplished?

Why or why not?

7. What experiment would you do next?

Tips for reading and understanding scientific reports

It can sometimes be hard, even for experts, to understand scientific articles. Here aresome tips that may help. A typical article is divided into these sections:

  • Abstract: briefly summarizes the purpose, approach, results and significance of the findings
  • Introduction: gives a brief overview of the field to provide context for the current study, explains the rationale and the hypothesis to be tested
  • Methods: provides the details of how the experiments were performed
  • Results: provides the primary (i.e., uninterpreted) data as text combined with figures, figure legends and tables; usually provides a brief conclusion for each experiment and a rationale for the next experiment.
  • Discussion: discusses the overall conclusions based on all the data in the report; considers whether the data support the hypothesis; judges the potential limitations of the experimental design or system; explores the implications of the findings and may suggest future experiments.

Read the whole article from beginning to end, even if you don't understand everything. Go through the article a second time. Take notes on what you do understand, thendeal with the parts that you don't understand. Break the paper down in smaller sections(maybe by figure) and work on understanding each part. Use the questions above tohelp you.Rephrase important points using your own words.The figures are the "meat" of the paper. If you understand the results of the figures,you are doing well. Sometimes different scientists will draw different conclusions fromthe same data. Read the whole paper again.


To help us improve the course, please provide a subjective evaluation of the paper (not part of grading)

1. How interesting did you find the topic?

A. Very

B. Somewhat

C. Not really

D. Boring

E. Other:

2. How interesting were the experimental approaches?

A. Novel and very interesting

B. Very interesting but not new to me

C. Somewhat interesting

D. Inappropriate for the questions addressed

E. Appropriate but not exciting

F. Other:

3. How much did you learn and why?

A. Tons - new material that was easy to understand

B. Some - new material that was hard to understand

C. Some - familiar material that was easy to understand

D. Little - new material that was hard to understand

E. Little - uninteresting, poorly written paper

F. Other: