Biology 182

A complete reorganization seems appropriate, since the old version was Liberty-centered and had really run its course as a way to do the class. I'll start to accumulate the new materials here.

Dr. Simurda's section

Dr. Knox's section

Research as a linguistic problem. Sometimes the starting keyword(s) is/are [or seem] clear (as with Dr. Simurda's bacteria), but sometimes there's an intermediate step of figuring out which words to start with (as with all of Dr. Knox's topics). And sometimes it's necessary to step back --to discover and then search a more general term. In any case, reading gives you more terms to integrate into your understanding of the subject.

One of the first things to do is an "anatomy of the article" which makes clear what 'primary' and 'secondary' are and how to tell the difference. And what to do with each, how to mine bibliographies, how to make sense of abstracts, how to manage unfamiliar terminology.

There's a sense in which the primary literature isn't written to be read: it establishes ownership and priority for ideas and findings, validates its authors' professional identities, serves as a permanent record of scientific progress. It's read by specialists --and by students who are preparing to become specialists. It's customarily written in a pretty rigid style (generally avoiding the first person, often favoring the passive voice, spending little energy on verbal niceties). Few people read primary literature for pleasure.

Secondary literature exists to improve access to the riches of primary literature: to interpret, summarize, adjudicate, review --but primarily for specialist or at least scientific audiences.

Tertiary and quaternary literatures are aimed at wider publics --at non-specialist audiences-- and emphasize explanation using language that goes beyond the code of narrow specialties. Tertiary and quaternary are especially useful in the early stages of exploring a subject.

All of these levels are important resources for a student of a subject, and (1) finding and (2) evaluating appropriate and useful sources will occupy a lot of our time.

Here's an example from Lexis-Nexis of a worthwhile tertiary/quaternary source for one topic.

Another early subject is creative use of library resources: finding what we have, and using it once it's found. The basics of the use of Annie aren't very difficult, but one needs some strategies for dealing with "too many" and "too few" results from an Annie search. Some basic familiarity with reference sources is also called for.
The periodical literature is accessed mostly with the aid of various sorts of indexes, most of which are now electronic. We'll deal with an array of databases and look at the current frontiers. A link to a list of publishers' search utilities exemplifies the wave of the future.

Find one, then find more using the information in the one
(bibliographies, authors, terminology to add to 'cloud'); the one is, after all, part of an ongoing conversation. You're trying to pick up enough to join that conversation.

The Web is another sort of resource, largely lacking both the organization and the peer validation of the research literature, but offering the careful user some remarkable opportunities.
About assignments: this term we'll try to convert over to using the L: drive drop box system, instead of e-mail. That'll take some learning on the faculty part, and Mac IPX for Maryanne and John.