9 Biocore Research Proposal Rubric

Title

4 = excellent Title is concise, conveys main point of experiment, and includes these key components: study system, variables, expected result, & direction
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3 = very good Title is concise & conveys main point of experiment but 1 key component is missing
2 = good Title could be more concise but still conveys main point of experiment; 2 or more key components are missing
1 = adequate Has two or more problems comparable to the following: Title is not concise, point of experiment is difficult to determine by title, most key information is missing
0 = inadequate Point of experiment cannot be determined by title

Introduction

BIG PICTURE: Did Intro convey why the experiment will be performed and what it is designed to test?
4 = excellent Clearly, concisely, & logically presents all key components: relevant & correctly cited background information, question, biological rationale (including biological assumptions about how the system works and knowledge gap research addresses), hypothesis, approach. (There may be a few minor issues with organization/clarity.)
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3 = very good Concisely & clearly covers all but one key component (w/ exception of rationale) OR clearly covers all key components but could be more concise and/or clear.

e.g., has done a reasonably nice job with the Intro but fails to state the approach OR has done a nice job with Intro but has also included some irrelevant background information

2 = good Covers all but 2 key components OR clearly covers all but 1 key component but could be done much more logically, clearly, and/or concisely.
e.g., biological rationale not fully developed but still supports hypothesis. Remaining components are done reasonably well, though there is still room for improvement.
Includes information that is extraneous and detracting from the main ideas.
1 = adequate Covers all but 3 key components & could be more concise and/or clear. OR clearly covers all but 2 key components but could be done much more logically, clearly, and/or concisely.

e.g., background information is not focused on a specific question and minimal biological rationale is presented such that hypothesis isn’t entirely logical

0 = inadequate 4-5 key components are very weak or missing; those stated are unclear and/or not stated concisely. Weak/missing components make it difficult to follow the rest of the paper. Often results in hypothesis that “comes out of nowhere.”

Methods & Materials

BIG PICTURE: Did Methods clearly describe how hypothesis will be tested?
4 = excellent Concisely, clearly, & chronologically describes procedure to be used such that knowledgeable reader could replicate experiment and understand expected results. Methods used are appropriate for study. Clearly defines controls and how they will inform the experiment. Briefly describes mathematical manipulations or statistical analyses to be used.
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3 = very good Concisely, clearly, & chronologically describes procedure to be used such that reader could replicate most of experiment with the exception of a few relatively minor details. Methods used are appropriate for study. Minor problems with organization OR some irrelevant/ superfluous information.
2 = good Procedure is presented such that a reader could replicate experiment only after learning a few more key details. OR methods used are reasonably appropriate for study, though a more straight-forward approach may have been taken.
1 = adequate Procedure is presented such that a reader could replicate experiment but methods are largely inappropriate to test hypothesis. OR Procedure is presented such that a reader could replicate experiment only after learning several more key details.
0 = inadequate So little information is presented that reader could not possibly replicate experiment OR methods are entirely inappropriate to test hypothesis.

Expected & Alternative Results

BIG PICTURE: Did the Results clearly & effectively display expected data that are relevant?
4 = excellent With a few minor exceptions, contains a concise, well-organized narrative text & tables/figures that highlight anticipated key trends/ patterns/output from statistical tests without biological interpretation. Figures should present data that would support hypothesis as well as present alternative results. Tables & figures have appropriate legends/ labels & can stand on their own.
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3 = very good Has presented both a concise, narrative text & informative tables/figures without biological interpretation, but has made 1-2 minor omissions or has other relatively small problems. e.g., tables & figures have very brief legends that leave out some key details.
2 = good Has presented expected findings with a reasonably good narrative text & informative tables/figures, but has 2-3 problems comparable to the following: most relevant expected data are present but are mixed in with some unnecessary information, trends are shown in figures but are not explicitly noted, tables & figures have very brief legends that leave out key details, variation around mean values is not indicated in figures, conclusions about proposed hypothesis are briefly made; alternative results are scarcely mentioned.
1 = adequate Has 3-5 problems comparable to the following: narrative text and & tables/figures are minimal and mostly uninformative, some relevant expected data are present but are mixed in with much unnecessary information, trends are not immediately apparent in figures and are not explicitly noted in text, tables & figures lack legends, variation around mean values is not indicated in either text or figures, conclusions about proposed hypothesis are emphasized; alternative results are not mentioned.
0 = inadequate Major problems that leave reader uninformed; narrative text is lacking entirely, tables & figures contain unclear and/or irrelevant information. e.g., figures are not accompanied by text, expected raw data are in a table w/ poor legend; expected results do not support proposed hypothesis.

Implications

BIG PICTURE: Did the Implications present explanations of expected & alternative results that made sense based on the ‘dummy’ data presented?
4 = excellent With a few minor exceptions, clearly, concisely, & logically presents all key components: describes relevance of predicted trend as it relates to knowledge gap and rationale, explains assumptions made, evaluates confidence in experimental design, discusses alternative results in light of incomplete biological rationale or flawed biological assumptions, and discusses ramifications of experiment.
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3 = very good Concisely, clearly, & logically covers all but one key components OR clearly covers all key components but could be more concise and/or clear.

e.g., has done a reasonably nice job with the Implications but fails to clearly tie biological rationale from the Intro with the predicted trend OR has done a nice job with the Implications but has also included an extensive laundry list of potential flaws in experimental design without discussing their impact on the predicted trend or alternative results.

2 = good Covers all buy 2 key components OR clearly covers all but 1 key component but could be done much more logically, clearly, and/or concisely.

e.g., clearly describes relevance of predicted trend that refers to biological rationale, but fails to logically and objectively evaluate assumptions & confidence in the experimental design OR has done a nice job with all the components but only briefly mentions alternative results without discussing their implications. Remaining components are done reasonably well, though there is still room for improvement.

1 = adequate Covers all but 3 key components & could be more concise and/or clear OR clearly covers all but 2 key components but could be done much more logically, clearly, and/or concisely.

e.g., relevance of predicted trend is incompletely tied to rationale, literature is minimally cited, presents unranked laundry list of potential problems instead of logical evaluation of design and data, suggests far-reaching/ illogical ramifications of experiment.

0 = inadequate 4 or more key components are missing or very weakly done.

e.g., illogical conclusions made based on predicted trend, no ties to biological rationale are made, alternative results are not mentioned, no literature cited, little to no evaluation of confidence in experimental design.

Literature Cited

4 = excellent References within body of paper are cited appropriately; references in final citation list are formatted appropriately and listed alphabetically by author using WM guidelines.
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3 = very good References within body of paper are cited appropriately; references in final citation list are formatted appropriately and listed alphabetically by author using WM guidelines, but there are 1-2 exceptions. e.g., citations are done well except that one or two references listed in text do not appear in the final list OR there are a few minor formatting errors in the final citation list.
2 = good References within body of paper & references in final citation list are done appropriately for the most part, but there are consistent exceptions. e.g., citations are used sparingly throughout the paper when background information is presented OR there are consistent formatting errors in text and final citation list.
1 = adequate Very few references are cited in text of paper; final citation list is largely incomplete and/or is not formatted appropriately.
0 = inadequate Background information is presented but is consistently not cited; final citation list is missing.

Overall grammar, organization, wording

4 = excellent Excellent organization and paper flow, appropriate word choice, few to no grammatical errors, consistently uses future tense.
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3 = very good Organization was good with few to no problems, wording awkward in a few places, few grammatical errors; a few switches between present/past/future tense.
2 = good Organization somewhat problematic but can still follow thought progression e.g. explanation of methods in the results section; wording awkward at times, some grammatical errors; several switches between present/past/future tense.
1 = adequate Problematic organization of some section resulting in loss of clarity; awkward wording at times; some grammatical errors.
0 = inadequate All poorly organized, interrupted flow to ideas leading to lack of clarity, cannot follow thought progression, many grammatical errors.

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Process of Science Companion: Science Communication by University of Wisconsin-Madison Biology Core Curriculum (Biocore) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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