While every effort has been made to make sure this electronic syllabus is error-free, it is not official.
The definitive source of course information remains the original (paper) syllabus distributed in class.

Spring 2003       Chemistry Research Methods 449            Lycoming College

Instructor: Dr. Charles H. Mahler, Phone 321-4351 or 322-8840 (h), mahler@lycoming.edu

Office Hours: Heim 202, MWF 10 - 11 AM, MW 1:30 2:30 PM, by appointment, or drop by.


Class meets:  Monday, 3:15-4:05 in Heim 215; Research as individually arranged.


Course Description:  This course focuses on the nature and practice of chemistry.  Students will conduct research into a particular chemical problem with a faculty research advisor and will discuss their research at a weekly seminar.  A report on their research will be written.


Text: The ACS Style Guide: A Manual for Authors and Editors, 2nd ed.; Dodd, J. S., Ed.; American Chemical Society:  Washington, D.C., 1997.


Grading Criteria:


                Poster*                                                            10%

            Colloquium*                                                     15%

            Final Paper*                                                     25%

            Resume, Cover Letter

                  and Personal Statement                                 5%

            Participation (peer rev., discussions)                    5%

            Paper drafts and practice talks                            5%

            Effort in Lab and Library Research*                  20%

            Notebook and Spectra*                                     5%

            Laboratory Technique*                                     10%



* Grade assigned in consultation with research advisor.


Attendance:  The student will pursue a research project under the direction of a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry. The student is expected to commit an average of 12 hours per week to the research project.  This time will be divided between laboratory work and time spent reading the literature and planning the laboratory work.  Attendance at the weekly seminar is mandatory and each unexcused absence will result in a 5% reduction of the final grade.  A maximum of one excused absence (must be documented by a note from physician, Dean, etc.) will be granted.


Literature Search, Article Summaries and Literature Review:  We will explore methods for searching the chemical literature.  The student will search the primary chemical literature for articles pertinent to his or her research topic.  These articles will form the basis of a literature review that will be written and ultimately included in the final research paper.




Weekly Research Presentations:  The student will present an overview of her project at her first presentation of the semester.  At subsequent meetings, the student will report on the progress made on the project since the previous meeting.  Although these presentations will be somewhat informal, the student is expected to present the research in an appropriate manner (the student should be well-prepared, knowledgeable about the project, able to describe the work in a professional manner, and able to answer student and faculty questions regarding the project, etc.).  Presentations will be the subject of peer-review.


Laboratory Technique:  The student will be evaluated on her mastery of techniques relevant to her project.  Included in this category are the skills necessary for the maintenance of laboratory equipment, laboratory hygiene, and safety. 


Effort in laboratory and library research:  This takes the form of the student's commitment to the research project with regard to both the time and thought dedicated to the research.  This includes evaluation of the student's comprehension of the project and intellectual input as determined by discussions with the research advisor regarding the status of the project. 


Laboratory Notebook:  The student will maintain and accurate and detailed laboratory notebook (hard-bound, all entries made in ink) and an organized file of spectral data.  The notebook and the spectral data will be turned in to the research advisor at the end of the semester.


Colloquium:  The student will present her research in the form of a chemistry colloquium near the end of the semester.  A practice talk (with overheads, etc.) will be given to the class at least 2 days before the colloquium.


Final Paper:  The student will prepare a written report on the research projectThe report will be written in standard ACS style (refer to papers published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society) and will include a brief abstract, an introduction, background material (literature review), results, discussion of the results, conclusions, an experimental section, and references.  We will address the particulars of each section in class.  Drafts of most sections will be due throughout the semester. 


Academic Dishonesty:  Be aware that in accordance with the College's policy on academic honesty, any work you submit must be your own.  Any instances of plagiarism will be severely penalized.   


Student Colloquium Dates: Wed. April 9, Fri. April 11, Wed. April 16, Wed. April 23, Fri. April 25, 2003.


If you have questions or comments about anything in the course, please come see me. I am ready and willing to meet with you and discuss your concerns, answer questions, explain concepts, solve problems, etc. I would rather help you to understand something beforehand, than to find out you don't understand it while reviewing / grading your work.


Tentative Course Schedule:

Date                 Topic                                                                                       Preparation for Class                            Research Presentation


Jan. 13             Introduction, Review Syllabus and Course Content



Jan. 20             Literature Search:  STN Easy and STNWeb searches.  Discuss project with research advisor. 

Meet in lower library.                                                    Choose search terms.



Jan. 27             Literature Search:  Structure searches on STNWeb                   Choose structures to be searched.

                                    Meet in lower library.



Feb. 3              Discussion:  Writing an introduction / literature review    Read Chapters 1 and 2 in text                           Students W, X

                        Citing references.



Feb. 10            Discussion:  Writing the experimental section                Read Chapters 5, 7, and 8                                Students Y, Z

                        *Bring notebook and spectra

                        Due:  First draft of introduction / literature review



Feb. 17            Workshop:  Writing the experimental section                                                                                         Students W, X

                        * Bring notebook and spectra

                        Discussion:  Peer review of introduction / lit. review



Feb. 24            Discussion:  Research Presentations                                          Read Chapter 12                                              Students Y, Z

                        Due:  2nd draft of introduction / literature review



Mar. 3              SPRING BREAK

Mar. 10            Resumes, Cover Letters and Personal Statements                      Come prepared to work on resume                   Students W, X

                        Peer review of research presentations   

Due:  Experimental Section (partial)


Mar. 17            Workshop:  ISISDraw and Power Point                                   Bring structures or reactions                              Students Y, Z

                        Peer review of research presentations                                        from your project

                        Due:  Resume, cover letter and personal statement                   Read Chapter 9



Mar. 24            Preparing for a Poster Presentation                                           Read Chapters 3 and 4                         Students W, X

                        Peer review of research presentations



Mar. 31            Writing the Results and Discussion Section                                Read Chapter 2                                                Students Y, Z

                        Peer review of research presentations                                        (pp 27-38 only)

Due:  Drafts of poster panels                                                   

Peer review of poster panels



Apr. 7              Practice Talks and peer review                                     Bring your R&D draft                                       April 9, 11       

                        Due:  Draft of Results and Discussion Section                                                                                       Colloquia




Apr. 14            Practice Talk and peer review, Poster Session               Posters Set Up                                                 April 16

                        Writing an abstract                                                                                                                                Colloquium

                        Due:  Peer reviews of Results and Discussion Section                                                                          



Apr. 21            Practice Talks and peer review                                                                                                             April 23, 25

Due:  Draft of final paper                                                                                                                     Colloquia


Finals Week:  Final Paper due (Tentatively Wednesday April 30, 2003) 


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Last updated January 17, 2003.
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