ASSIGNMENTS, Evolution Fall 2019

Problem Sets:

    example answers HERE

    example answers HERE



There will be FOUR (or THREE) essays over the course of the term: one option is four papers that follow essentially the same assignment (described in link for 'first essay' below).  Think of these in terms of roughly equivalent of 5 or 6 double-spaced pages (1250-1500 words)


FIRST ESSAY due Thurs 14 March

SECOND ESSAY due Thursday 4 April

THIRD ESSAY  due Thursday 29 April

FOURTH ESSAY due  Thursday 23 May

AN ALTERNATIVE TO ESSAYS THREE AND FOUR: you may choose to do one larger synthetic review instead of the last two indivicual-paper critical reviews.  This option would require you to:
- Choose a particular topic in evolutionary biology (a hypothesis, phenomenon, question...)

- Select several papers (three or four at a minimum) that bear on this topic in a cumulative way, in some manner building on one another or providing mutual insight (this might be a series of papers where researchers are explicitly building on each others' work or they might be less explicitly related but you find a thread in your own interests that connects them.)

- Combine, in your essay, a brief overview of each of these studies, along with a discussion -- your synthesis -- of the conceptual threads or arguments that connect them for you. The overviews should be succinct and focus on a) the purpose and general logical structure of the study, b) the findings as they apply to the primary questions posed by the researchers, c) and any open ends, implications, or criticisms that you care to point out (the usual assessment of the effectiveness and productiveness of the work), but with special emphasis on the threads that connect all of the papers reviewed from your perspective. Overviews do NOT need to get into nitty-gritty detail of methods, results, except insofar as that is required for you to make your points, draw your synthetic interpretations.

- The main focus of your essay should be on the structure that, for you, makes the papers cohere -- why you came to select them as a connected body of work. It should include some thoughts as to where this body of work leaves our understanding and how that is affected by the net contribution of the several pieces of research. And, in this option, it is particularly important to include some thinking (either drawn from the thinking of the researchers or from your synthesis of the situation) as to what questions remain open, what further research is interestingly suggested. There are a variety of other components that could go into this synthetic aspect of the essay -- anything that, in your reading and thinking about the papers, emerges as interesting and somehow emerges from the work being reported.

- DO NOT TREAT THIS AS A SUMMARY OF A "TOPIC", as in a typical 'term paper',so much as an attempt to use a selected body of work to draw synthetic understanding and to think about what it implies. The focus is more on your thinking than on summarizing current understanding.  Reflect on research ideas and their linkage and how they lead to new questions, rather than writing an encyclopedia article.

Think in terms of around 10 pages for this one.

If you are having trouble choosing papers or refining your ideas for a starting point, talk to me (sooner rather than later).