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DISCUSSION PAPER FORMAT

GN415 Spring 2007


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Section 1. Write a succinct one paragraph summary of the objectives and conclusions of
the paper. A good summary is quantitative where appropriate (dont write they saw
some differences in some of the genes!" rather write #"$%& of the 1$"'(% genes on the
array were found to be significantly differentially e)pressed!*. Also try to give a little bit
of bac+ground to why they performed the study" but remember that you are writing
scientifically" not for a maga,ine. Writing should be sharp and to the point" not poetic
and superficial.
Section &. -escribe the wor+ flow of the paper. .ou might even consider drawing out a
flow diagram to help you" but convert this into te)t for your paper. /his section should
be more than a list of the e)periments they performed0 try to portray the logical
connection between the e)periments. 1or e)ample" the authors start by doing 2" which
leads them to supect ." so they did 3" which implied A and led them to conclude 4. /his
should help you to see the logic of the approach" and if you see a flaw in the logic or feel
that the conclusions are unjustified" e)plain why you thin+ that is the case.
Section 5. 6ighlight the strenghts and wea+nesses of the paper. .ou ought to be able to
pinpoint three of each. Stengths might be that the study developed a new technology" or
led to a new model of some process" or was a particularly clever design. Wea+nesses
might be that the sample si,e was too small" or that the e)periment was misinterpreted" or
that the study was poorly designed. .ou should as+ yourself whether the paper achieved
the objective the authors set themselves. /ry to avoid complaining that you did not
understand the paper because it was full of jargon or the statistics were too hard for you
to follow0 7 e)pect that will often be the case" but usually it is because it is assumed that
the papers are written for e)perts. 7f you have something you dont understand" email or
as+ me.
Section 8. /hin+ of two e)periments that you would propose to follow9up on the paper.
-ont just write down the e)periments" e)plain why you would do them and briefly
outline what the procedure would be so that they ma+e scientific sense. 7 e)pect that you
may come up with some cra,y ideas" and that some of the e)periments will not be
feasible. /hat is :; < 7 +now you dont +now enough to be certain about things. 7n this
section just be creative and insightful=