Course goals:

Provides formal instruction in the scientific method and the preparation of research proposals. Students will develop a research proposal that will serve as the foundation for experimental work directed towards an undergraduate research thesis.

Entry level:

Upper division standing and consent of instructor.

Course requirements:

One-hour lecture per week presented by the instructor on the scientific method and how to develop a research proposal. One-hour group discussion per week in which students present their developing proposals and receive constructive comment from other students and the instructor(s). Students will meet with their respective faculty mentors for one hour per week to obtain background information on the proposed project and to discuss hypotheses and experimental approaches.

Subject outline:

The lecture component of the course will cover the basis of the scientific method, deduction, induction, hypothesis testing, types of evidence, falsification versus confirmation, ethics in scientific research, and structural elements of a scientific research proposal. Students will gain a clear understanding of the scientific process, its strengths and limitations. In the group discussions, they will learn how to develop a research proposal, how to present their ideas in a clear and logical manner, how to give and receive criticism, and how to revise and improve scholarly work. Students will be matched individually with faculty mentors having expertise in the student’s chosen topic. In some cases the student will have participated in 199 research with the faculty mentors, in other cases the mentor will be selected from among the faculty members participating in the Biotechnology major. The completed proposal will be in the format appropriate for submission to a granting agency and will be the basis for the research conducted in the companion course BIT189L.