Introduction to Scientific Analysis (Bio 100): Course Information

Spring 2011


            Dr. Ron Coleman       Office: 119 Humboldt

                                                            916-278-3474 (w)

                                                            916-705-2606 (cell) until 10 pm






Course Location & Times:

  Lecture:         #34006            Tues 1:30 to 2:20 pm Room 124 HMB

 Activiy:          #34007            Thurs 1:30 to 3:20pm Room 124 HMB


Enrollment is limited to 24 students. Each student must attend both the lectures and the activities

Office hours: 

  Ron Coleman                        Wed 2:00 - 5:00pm                Room 119 HMB

Course description:


The following concepts are addressed in this course: Anatomy of scientific literature, reading and writing scientific papers, proper citation formats, basic interpretation of tables and figures, graphical analysis, basic statistical analysis, experimental design to effectively test a hypothesis, effective presentation of an experiment. Lecture one hour. Activity two hours. Prerequisite: BIO 1, BIO 2, and STAT 1.

Learning Objectives:


Students should be able to:


∙ Read and interpret a scientific paper

∙ Produce relevant tables and graphs given different types of data

∙ Conduct a literature search on a topic

∙ Develop an hypothesis that can be tested

∙ Write an effective scientific paper

                        ∙ Orally present results to a group of peers

Attendance and Deadlines:


I expect you to attend every lecture and activity; you miss class at your own risk. Anything I say is fair game for exams, whether it is in the text or not. Some things I say will definitely not be in the text, and some may contradict the text. In the latter case, what I say is taken to be the correct answer. If there is a difference between what I say and what is in the text or what you have learned elsewhere, please ask about it in lecture or after class and we will discuss the differences.


My goal as a lecturer is to guide and assist you in learning about this material. I cannot do that if you are not in class or if you do not tell me what you do not understand.


If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to get the notes from another student, not from me. I DO NOT hand out lecture notes, nor do I post them to the web.


Deadlines are strictly adhered to. It is not fair to students that complete work on time for other students to have extra time to do the same work. Plan ahead and schedule your time. Most importantly, don't leave things to the last minute; you don't need that kind of stress!



Barnard, C., F. Gilbert, and P. McGregor. 2007. Asking Questions in Biology. 3rd Edition. Pearson, San Francisco. REQUIRED. ISBN: 978 0 13 222435 2



There will be a midterm and a final for the course. The midterm will be held during the lecture or activity period and will be a mixture of fill-in the blank, short-answer and essay questions as well as practical exercises using computers for graphing and statistics. I do not believe in multiple choice questions and do not use them.


Exams will be comprehensive, i.e., anything in the whole course up to that point in time is fair game. My previous students comment on two aspects of my exams: I am a hard grader and I am a fair grader. You can expect long exams that test your knowledge, but they will be exams without tricks. My goal is to have you tell me what you know and understand. You will have to work very quickly.

Scientific Paper:

A key component of this course is for each student to produce a finished scientific paper. This is not a term paper, rather it is a scientific paper reporting original research. Each students will go through the complete process of generating an idea, developing an hypothesis, devising an experiment to test that hypothesis, analyzing data, graphing that data and writing up the discussion. The student will produce a written paper, an oral presentation and a poster presentation based on this experiment. The only part of this exercise that will not be “authentic” will be the data: the student will not actually perform the experiment, rather the instructor will generate simulated data – based on the explicit methods detailed by the student – that the student will analyze.


            This course is worth 2 units.


The number of points/questions on a particular exam is irrelevant to the exam's worth -- it is merely a tool for grading. What matters are the following percentages.

            Your grade will be calculated according to the following scheme:


Midterm 25

Final Exam25

                        Scientific Paper                      15

                        Presentation                            5

                        Poster                                      5

                        Other Assignments                 25




NOTE: You must retain in some orderly fashion all assignments and graded materials until after the end of the semester (i.e., June). You may be asked to produce these at the end of the semester. Failure to produce an assignment will result in a grade of 0 for that assignment.

            Your letter grade will be calculated according to the following table:

                                    A = 93 to 100%                    C+ = 77 to 79%

                                    A- = 90 to 92%                     C = 73 to 76%

                                    B+ = 87 to 89%                    C- = 70 to 72%

                                    B = 84 to 86%                     D+ = 67 to 69%

                                    B- = 80 to 83%                     D = 60 to 66%

                                                                                    F = 0 to 59%


I generally do not adjust or curve or scale grades; If you want an "A", work for it and make it happen!


I do not hesitate to correct any errors I make in grading (e.g., incorrect addition or if I missed grading an answer), but keep in mind that I am looking for clear, succinct answers, not answers that sort-of-show-you-possibly-might-know-what-you-mean. If you feel that your answer deserves a better grade, please return it to me promptly.


I do not use "extra credit" assignments.

Honor Code:


Please don't cheat. Besides the fact that we will be forced to take strong measures if we catch you -- including recommending your dismissal from the class and from the university -- I will be profoundly disappointed in you.

            Don't even think about doing any of the following:


            a.         giving or receiving information from another student during an examination

b.using unauthorized sources for answers during an exam such as writing answers on hats, clothing or limbs

            c.         illegally obtaining the questions before an exam

            d.         altering the answers on an already-graded exam

            e.         any and all forms of plagiarism

            f.         destruction and/or confiscation of school and/or personal property



I appreciate your feedback on this course. It is most useful to tell me things while the course is in progress, rather than waiting until the end of the course. If there is something that needs changing, LET ME KNOW and I will see what I can do about it. This course is a collaboration between you and me. I really enjoy teaching this class and I want you to have a great time as well.







Jan 25

Jan 27

no class

Introduction to Class and Scientific Literature 



Feb 1

Feb 3





Feb 8

Feb 10





Feb 15

Feb 17





Feb 22

Feb 24


Experimental Proposal due



Mar 1

Mar 3





Mar 8

Mar 10


Final Experimental Design due



Mar 15

Mar 17





Mar 22

Mar 24

Spring Break – no classes

Spring Break – no classes



Mar 29

Mar 31


Cesar Chavez – no class



Apr 5

Apr 7





Apr 12

Apr 14





Apr 19

Apr 21


Final Paper due



Apr 26

Apr 28





May 3

May 5


Project presentations



May 10

May 12





May 16

Final Exam Thurs May 19 12:45-2:45