CHEM 4500 Reviewing of The Scientific Literature Assignment
Writing Assignment Guidelines
Students are tasked with writing a 3-4-page review of the scientific literature relevant to previously chosen proteins. The theme of the assignment will center on a question that students would like to answer related to their chosen protein. An example question might be: “How does the structure of protein A contribute to substrate recognition and downstream function?” To address this question, students might next turn to the Protein Data Bank to obtain the atomic resolution structure and obtain supporting literature from the Pubmed, SciFinder Scholar, or Google Scholar databases.
The general format of this document will include specified sections that diverge from those expected for a standard research paper. Sections should be organized to include an introduction, question/goal, discussion of existing literature, and conclusion. References should be included, but style guidelines will not be enforced. As such, please feel free to use the American Chemical Society, APA, etc. style guidelines most convenient. The contents of each section should address the following:
- Introduction (25 points): The introduction section will present the broader context for your selected protein. While students have flexibility here, the general context in which your selected protein functions should be provided. For many proteins, this will be a brief description of the biological setting where the protein functions (bacteria, human liver, human digestive tract, archaea, etc.). However, some cases may involve proteins that have been engineered for industrial use. In the case of an engineered protein, please describe what the environment for intended use is as well as the application. In other cases, it would be sufficient to focus on the role that a protein plays in a particular metabolic pathway and the relationship between that pathway and human/organismal health. The introduction should prepare the reader to generally understand the context underlying the environment that the protein normally lives in.
- Question/Goal (25 Points): The Question/Goal section represents a section wherein the student should identify a central question or goal that is currently not addressed by a singular published research paper. It is common to find specific questions or goals addressed in the scientific literature across multiple research papers rather than in a single publication. This may be due to the magnitude of the question. That is to say, the question may be sufficiently large that it must be broken down into parts that must each be addressed via individual research projects. In such scenarios, the larger research question would ultimately be addressed from a broad perspective involving a larger body of work. In addition to this, issues of data reproducibility may also be addressed through such an approach.
- Discussion (25 Points): The discussion section will represent the majority of the assignment. The purpose of the discussion section will be to: 1) Present relevant literature reports; 2) discuss those findings in the context of the broader body of research such that a coherent narrative emerges. Both of these aims should be directed at addressing your original question or stated goal of the document. Please take care to not plagiarize the existing literature. As such, it will be important to try to understand the literature results and how they have been interpreted. This contrasts with simple regurgitation of statements made in the literature. Please feel free to structure the Discussion section to include subsections that improve readability.
- Conclusion (25 Points): The conclusion section should be utilized to summarize all major points that have contributed to the answer to the central theme or question. This section is generally brief with lengths of no more than 2-3 paragraphs.
Multiple resources exist that should be utilized to facilitate procurement of scientific literature, structural data, etc. Examples include:
Protein Data Bank (https://www.rcsb.org/)
NCBI Pubmed (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/)
Google Scholar (https://scholar.google.com/)
Rough Draft Due: 11/19/2021
Final Draft Due: 12/6/2021
Key Points to Address
Examples of general concepts that should be addressed, if possible, are listed below. Please be aware that these points are likely going to be addressed across the introduction and discussion sections. Additionally, this topic list should not be considered exhaustive.
- Protein structural description (if available)
- Protein function
- Underlying context for protein function
- Protein identity and general classification (family membership)
- Factors that influence enzyme function
- Factors important for substrate recognition