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BIO/CHM 240 - Suzi Ziegenhorn - Spring 2020: Your Assignment

Getting Started

This library guide has pages for

  • Assignment objective and timeline
  • Library database links and search tips
  • Contact information for the Oakton Library and online sign-up for a meeting with a librarian.

Contact your Professor

  Suzanne Ziegenhorn
Title: Associate Professor, Biology
Department: Division of Natural Science & Health Careers
Email Address:
Office: 306 Lee Ctr. Des Plaines
Phone: 847-376-7361

Journal Article Student Feedback

Journal Article Student Feedback


Please consider these questions while listening to your colleagues’ journal article presentations and take notes on each presentation so that you can address these questions in your critical analysis of the presentation.  Please type your responses and submit them to the dropbox folder entitled “Journal Article Student Feedback Forms”.


Presenter Name:




  1. What would you say was the greatest strength of this presenter?




  1. What area of the presentation could most be improved?





  1. What single piece of advice would you give this presenter if they were to present this journal article again?

Assignment Objectives and Timeline

BIO/CHM 240 Journal Article Presentation

This assignment is designed for students to:

  • 1) investigate the primary literature relevant to our research topic;
  • 2) closely read and understand a peer-reviewed research article published in a reputable journal; and
  • 3) prepare and give an informative, succinct, and useful oral presentation (about 15 minutes) on the research described in the article.


The schedule for due dates related to this presentation this term is as follows:

  • Week 2 (M, 1/27):The library session on searching for scientific journal articles. Meet in library room 2418 (access through Library main entrance then take the elevator or stairs to second floor Library classroom) at regularly scheduled class time.
  • Week 3 (M, 2/3): Upload at least one (1) appropriate article (pdf file; not a link) to the journal assignment folder on D2L for instructor review.
  • Week 4 (M, 2/10): Upload two (2) additional appropriate articles to the journal assignment folder on D2L for instructor review.
    • Note: If you have found additional articles (i.e., other than the three submitted above) that you believe are equally worthy or of potential interest to the class, please add them to the “extra journal articles”  folder.
  • Week 4 (F, 2/14): Instructors make final approvals for articles and assign them to students via email.
  • Week 5-6 (F, 2/28):
    • Last day to meet with an instructor to discuss paper (1 st meeting).
    • Meetings can happen anytime this week or week 6, to be arranged at a mutually agreeable time.
  • Week 7 (F, 3/6): Last day to meet with an instructor to discuss first draft of PowerPoint presentation (2 nd meeting). Meetings can happen anytime this week, as before
  • Week 8 (3/9, 11): Presentation of article in class. Aim for 15 minutes of content, followed by a 5-10 minute period to answer questions from colleagues.

Guidelines for the Assignment

A few things to keep in mind:


  1. Make sure your articles are actual research articles from an original study where data are presented and interpreted.
    No review articles, clinical report articles, or methods/techniques only articles, please.
  2. If you fail to select an appropriate article by the final instructor approval date, the instructor WILL assign an article to you and a 10% penalty will be levied due to non-compliance with the assignment requirements.
  3. In the process of reading your research articles closely and starting to make your first power point drafts, keep in mind the following points to organize your thoughts and information. You will want to read your paper closely several times and try to understand:
    1. What were the motivating questions for the study?  Why care?
    2. What did they actually do, procedurally and statistically?
    3. What were the main results?  Take special care to analyze carefully each figure and table individually.  Find the specific parts of the article that refer to a given figure or table, and see if you can reconcile what is being said with the data in the figure or table.  Do you agree that the text accurately represents the data?  Do not just take the authors’ word as “true” and parrot it back to your audience.  Question it!  Convince yourself that it “makes sense” (or not).
    4. What are the authors’ interpretations of the key results?  Do you agree that their assertions are supported by their data?  Again, always question them rather than assuming they are “true”.
    5. What new, potentially useful information has been provided by this study?
    6. How might this study be relevant for our own investigations into microbial biofilms?
  4. The meetings with instructors are designed to help you understand everything in your paper (if the instructors are able to understand it all!)  Please make use of this time wisely, but also make sure you put in enough time BEFORE this first meeting trying to understand the article on your own. Make lots of notes in the margins if you don’t understand something…those would be good things to discuss with your instructor in person.
  5. Your presentation should generally include the following:
  1. Title Slide
  2. Background/Introduction
  3. Methods
  4. Results
  5. Conclusions

The Results section should generally be the largest section and the one on which most of the time is spent.  The others are generally briefer, but are very important as well.  More details on each of these sections, as well as other expectations/suggestions will be communicated by instructors directly as well as via the grading rubric for the assignment, which you should examine closely as you prepare your presentation.  (This is posted in D2L).

  1. Be judicious with the amount of information you put in your slides. Bullet points are better than sentences.  Do not read word-for-word off of slides or note cards. A good way to present the results is to paste a figure or table into a slide, and then discuss the figure or data in your own words, highlighting the most important parts using a laser pointer or, for particularly complex slides, PowerPoint features such as “animations” (which are not necessarily what they sound like--we can demonstrate). Make sure you are clear on the authors’ interpretation of the data, and present the core results, but also bring up questions with their interpretation if you have some criticisms.

Please email your professors if you have any questions about the expectations for this assignment. This should be fun!

Reference Librarian

Ruth Whitney's picture
Ruth Whitney
Ruth Whitney

Adjunct Faculty, Library Services
847-635-1644 (Reference Desk)
847-635-1646 (Voicemail)

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