Final Project Spring 2011: Part VI

The lab report for the final project was submitted as a JOC style article. The students had been writing parts of their lab reports in scientific article format during the semester: Abstract, Introduction, Results and Discussion, Conclusion, Experimental Section, and of course References. This was the first time I had given this type of assignment so I was unsure of what to expect. Some students made impressive attempts to recreate the Journal of Organic Chemistry style in their reports, even to the extent of including the JOC header on their paper. One challenge for the students was to write their reports as response to a particular scientific problem. A scientist must always answer the question, “How does this investigation advance the sum total of useful scientific knowledge?” in their articles. In the conclusion of the article the extent to which the purpose was accomplished can be evaluated. Another challenge for the students was to present their results in an objective manner. For example, a 50% yield for a given reaction may be the optimal yield for the reaction under the given conditions. It is not necessarily a “poor” yield if no higher yield has been reported. Students were encouraged to cite other scientific articles, and not websites, as sources. One unfortunate aspect of using the JOC style format is that references are very brief and do not include article titles. It occurs to me that one problem with students writing journal article-style reports is that they often do not get much chance to read original research journal articles during the course of their studies.


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