Genomics Research: Timeline and Benchmarks
The goal of this project is to have you do independent research exploring a question that reflects your own interests. Moving a scientific research project from conception to completion can be challenging or overwhelming. In particular, it requires moving forward with the refinement of the research question, an analysis of past work, and data collection, synthesis and interpretation all at the same time. I've provided the timeline and questions below to help guide you through this complex task. The reflective questions will help you think through challenges and revise your plans. They will also let me understand better how to help you.
Phase 1: Developing a feasible research question and plan
Due end of lab Thursday Nov 5:
While your research question will evolve in response to your research results, it is important to get a clear articulation of your starting question. You will want to refer back to this when you get overwhelmed by data analysis options. You will want to update your question if it changes markedly or becomes more narrowly focused as you begin to understand the data.
Record in lab notebook:
A critical part of research is tying to the work that has gone before. The scientific literature is the primary tool for doing this. Not only do you need to know what other people have concluded that is fundamental to your work, you will also findexamples of research methods and analysis strategies that will be useful as you move forward.
Doing scientific research is not unlike navigating through a city or mountain range. On the one hand you need to know where you are going. On the other, you have to modify your route as obstacles arise or you learn new things about the landscape you are traversing. Sometimes as a scientist you will decide you are not going where you had originally planned, that it is easier to go around an obstacle than over it, or that there are important new areas to explore. However, just as an initial plan is very valuable for a traveler, an initial plan for your research is essential to guiding your research and increases the odds that you will get to a useful and interesting conclusion. You will want to update your plan as you gain experience with the data analysis and learn new things.
The details of your experiment/wet-lab study will probably be best decided after you have made some headway on the bioinformatics research. However, it is very valuable to start thinking toward that experiment at this time.
Phase Two: Moving Forward
One of the major challenges of research is getting caught up in the details and forgetting to synthesize results, think about how they related to one another, and reflect on whether your path is still the best one. I've provided two assignments that will help you make sure you are not leaving these important steps to the end.
Due in class Monday Nov 9:
- Your draft Introduction section, including background from literature, your research question, methods that you plan to use (bioinformatic study, experimental methods, wet lab methods) Please submit this by email.
Due Wed Nov 11
- Your plan for the wetlab/experimental aspect of your project. Please submit by email, using the following questionnaire Experimental Design Plan (Microsoft Word 35kB Nov9 09)
Due Thur Nov 12
- Your draft Materials and Methods section WITH a timeline of work. Please submit by email.
Phase III Wrapping up
Due before Thanksgiving
Due Monday Dec 7
Due Tuesday Dec 8