Article Reports

Article Reports

During the course of the quarter, you are to read six (eight for Biology 1151) selections from any of the following books:

Ever Since Darwin
The Panda's Thumb
Hen's Teeth and Horses' Toes
The Flamingo's Smile
Bully for Brontosaurus
Eight Little Piggies
Dinosaur in a Haystack
Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms
The Lying Stones of Marrakech
I Have Landed

These books contain collections of articles written by biologist/paleontologist/geologist Stephen Jay Gould for his monthly column in Natural History Magazine. Dr. Gould has written several other books which are not acceptable for this assignment, so be sure that you select a book from this list.

These books are readily available from a number of sources. The College of DuPage has several copies of each of them. One copy of each is kept on 24 hour reserve at the reserve desk, and the others are in normal circulation. Other libraries (especially other academic libraries) should have some or all of them available. They can also be easily purchased in paperback editions at any large book store.

Each book contains thirty to thirty-five essays. Your six (or eight) essays may be selected from among any of these 300-plus essays. You may choose your articles from a variety of these books, or all from the same book.

Your task as you read these articles is to understand the message the author is trying to convey. Most of these were written with a message in mind, and your job is to distill that message out of each selection. Note that this is a very different thing from creating a synopsis of the article, and that the message is very different from the subject. You will probably have to read the articles you choose more than once, and you may find that some are not suitable for this assignment. This evaluation is up to you.

For each article you select, you are to write a brief exposition on the message Dr. Gould was trying to convey. If you have really understood the article, this should never take more than 2 or 3 sentences. Once you have settled on his message, synopsize some of the important evidence he presented to support or clarify that message. (10 points per article)

You are to present your conclusions to me via a typed report. The ideal length of the report is one double-spaced, type-written page. This report should be structured in the following way:

  1. Your name and the course and section (or lab day and time) in which you are enrolled
  2. The name of the article
  3. The title of the book from which the article came.
  4. A very brief (2-3 sentences) paragraph explaining Dr. Gould's message. This paragraph must be the first paragraph in the report, should be clearly distict and separate from the rest of the report, and must explain Dr. Gould's explicit point, not a vague generality, in your words, not his. That means that you are not allowed to use direct quotes in this section. Please note that this is the core of the assignment.
  5. A concise description, in your words, not his, of the primary evidence or examples Dr. Gould used to support his position. Please explain how these examples support his point; don't just list the evidence. This portion of the report should be 2-3 paragraphs long.

Utilizing the correct format for your reports is absolutely vital; failure to do so will cost significant points.

You should consider these reports to be formal reports. That means that you should care what they look like. I expect them to be neatly typed. I also expect you to use good grammar and spelling. Yes, I may deduct from your credit if you ignore this stricture. This is a prepared assignment, and you have plenty of time to proofread and correct errors. Reports in outline or "rough notes" form will not be accepted. Reports which are hand written will not be accepted.

Deadlines: You are to have 2 article reports (4 for Biology 1151) ready at the time of each exam (except the last exam of the quarter). If the exam date gets moved, so do the due dates for the article reports. For all assignments, late papers will be penalized 10% for each day late. All CoD class days count, whether your class meets or not.


Practice Article Report: During the first class of the semester, a practice article report will be assigned. All students will read the same article for this practice ("Sex, Drugs, Disasters and Extinction of the Dinosaurs," from The Flamingo's Smile). This assignment will be due at the beginning of the class period following the assignment, and it is never accepted even a few minutes late.


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