BIO/CSC 295 2011F Bioinformatics : Handouts

Writing Response Papers

When you are asked to write a response paper, you should write a succinct (1-2 page) paper offering some critical analysis of the primary literature we are reading for the week. The model for these papers is that you are the reviewer of the paper, determining whether it requires additional experimentation or should be published as is. Students should consider their criticisms of the paper in light of its major conclusions or proposed models. A student concluding the paper should be published should discuss how the data support the specific model proposed by the authors. Those rejecting the paper should describe how the data fail to support that model.

Subjects of the analysis might include:

Approaching the Response Paper

Many of these ideas are taken from

Graff, G. & Birkenstein, C. (2009). They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. W. W. Norton.

I. The first paragraph should include a summary of the major findings of the paper. - They say

II. The next paragraphs should include your criticism(s) of the paper - I Say.

III. A final paragraph brings the two sections together (They say, I say, tying it all together), discusses relevance and summarizes your final position.

Some ideas to consider in paper criticism

Note that these are pretty sophisticated. One can start by identifying key experiments and describing how they are confusing or seem to be missing key elements.

Warning! Scientific papers are filled with details and jargon, some of which is critical for understanding the paper. Please use other resources (including other students, TA's, professors, books, the Web) to get a better handle on the material. Don't forget to cite such sources in your response paper! Also, if you get stuck on one figure, skip it and try to work through the rest of the paper. You may find it makes more sense later.

Disclaimer: I usually create these pages on the fly, which means that I rarely proofread them and they may contain bad grammar and incorrect details. It also means that I tend to update them regularly (see the history for more details). Feel free to contact me with any suggestions for changes.

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