• Class Number 3361
  • Term Code 3130
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Rachael Remington
    • Prof Patricia Backwell
    • Dr Rachael Remington
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/02/2021
  • Class End Date 28/05/2021
  • Census Date 31/03/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/03/2021
SELT Survey Results

This course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop reading, writing and presentation skills that are now critical in career development and advancement in science. BIOL8291 will be taught as a series of workshops emphasizing scientific writing and communicating to a scientific audience through written work, oral and poster presentations. The course is tailored to provide peer-review and instructor feedback via in-class workshops and online assistance in order to improve the presentation skills of individual students. We also spend time exploring the range of research labs at the ANU, in particular, those investigating biological questions of personal interest to students.

Topics covered will include:

  • Engaging in the peer-review process with classmates
  • Preparing and presenting interesting scientific oral presentations
  • Writing techniques applied to both popular and scientific outlets
  • Planning a research project incorporating effective experimental design and statistics
  • Preparing a scientific poster based on ANU research and participating in a poster symposium
  • Effective use of ANU resources, including library, academic skills and career centre

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Demonstrate writing and referencing skills to communicate to scientific and general audiences.
  2. Critically read and interpret scientific journal articles in the fields of biology, biotechnology and neuroscience.
  3. Prepare and deliver oral presentations on scientific research.
  4. Prepare a scientific poster and present findings at a poster symposium.
  5. Critically analyse ANU scientific seminars.
  6. Analyse, critique, and reflect on your own work as well as others in the peer-review process.

Research-Led Teaching

BIOL8291 is based on preparing students for university-level research analyses, application and communicating this information to a general scientific audience. Students independently investigate their own research interests, read and critique work done by lead researchers of biological laboratories at the ANU, and learn to write, present and communicate science to a general audience. Students are encouraged to contact lab leaders to discuss the research projects and outcomes that they are investigating in this class.

Required Resources

All documents and resources are provided online and listed via wattle throughout the course.

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Critical Thinking & Scientific Writing
2 Academic Skills / Library Skills and Endnote
3 Experimental Design & Statistics Scientific Writing Summary
4 Journal Club (JC) Oral Presentation Workshop
5 JC Oral Presentation JC Presentations assessed in class
6 Research Proposal Methods writing
7 Research Proposal Method Workshop
8 Scientific Posters Tutorial Research Proposal Methods I Draft
9 Scientific Posters Workshop & Critique
10 News & Views Writing Workshop Research Proposal Methods II Final
11 Careers Centre Tutorial & Student Poster Symposium Student Poster Symposium (assessed in class)
12 Research programs / supervisor selection Seminar Logbook & Capstone Reflection
13 Final writing assignment ("take home" exam) News & Views

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Scientific Writing (10%) 10 % 11/03/2021 23/03/2021 1,2
Journal Club Presentations (15%) 15 % 01/04/2021 21/04/2021 2,3
Research Proposal Methods DRAFT (5%) 5 % 22/04/2021 30/04/2021 1,2
Research Proposal Methods (15%) 15 % 04/05/2021 18/05/2021 1,2
Poster symposium (25%) 25 % 20/05/2021 04/06/2021 1,2,4
Seminar Logbook (10%) 10 % 26/05/2021 09/06/2021 1,2,5
Capstone Reflection (5%) 5 % 28/05/2021 09/06/2021 1,2,3,4,5,6
News and Views (15%) 15 % 04/06/2021 16/06/2021 1,2

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


This class is highly interactive, where students discuss research, writing and presenting in small groups and provide constructive feedback to peers. Students are expected to participate in each class and workshop through discussions with their classmates and peer-review.


This course has no formal “exams”, but instead students are assessed through several writing and scientific presentation assignments.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 11/03/2021
Return of Assessment: 23/03/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Scientific Writing (10%)

Write a one-page summary (600 word limit) of a publication selected by the instructor, aimed at a general science audience.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 01/04/2021
Return of Assessment: 21/04/2021
Learning Outcomes: 2,3

Journal Club Presentations (15%)

Choose a recent biology publication and prepare a Journal Club presentation, aimed at a non-specialist, biology audience. Students will prepare a 15-minute powerpoint presentation and deliver it to the class. The presentation will summarise the main research aims, experimental methods, and results, as well as give a strong background and insight into the significance and implications for broader research. There is also a peer-review and reflection exercise as part of the assessment.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 22/04/2021
Return of Assessment: 30/04/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Research Proposal Methods DRAFT (5%)

Write the experimental plan section of a research grant based on the article chosen for the Journal Club presentation (1500 word limit). Consider how the authors presented their work to a funding body before the research was conducted. Present the aims, rationale, and techniques for the main experiments, as well as a brief introduction and significance section. You will first submit a DRAFT of your work for feedback and in-class review activities.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 04/05/2021
Return of Assessment: 18/05/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

Research Proposal Methods (15%)

A finalized, re-write of your experimental plan section of a research grant based on the article chosen for the Journal Club presentation (1500 word limit). Consider how the authors presented their work to a funding body before the research was conducted. Present the aims, rationale, and techniques for the main experiments, as well as a brief introduction and significance section.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 20/05/2021
Return of Assessment: 04/06/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4

Poster symposium (25%)

Prepare and present a research poster for a in-class scientific conference using the biology publication selected at the beginning of the semester. Your poster should be aimed at a non-specialist, biological audience. This assignment is worth a total of 25% (oral presentation / discussion with researchers during the poster symposium =10%, and the poster assessment = 15%).

Assessment Task 6

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 26/05/2021
Return of Assessment: 09/06/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,5

Seminar Logbook (10%)

Write six clear, one-page summaries and critique/reflection for six biology research seminars attended during the semester (one 400-word summary for each seminar). You will include details of their research, summarised for a general biology audience, the significance and implications for their research, as well as a reflection on what you learned from their research and presentation style.

Assessment Task 7

Value: 5 %
Due Date: 28/05/2021
Return of Assessment: 09/06/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Capstone Reflection (5%)

Submit a short (600 word limit) reflection on your learning and experiences throughout this course, giving some details and examples.

Assessment Task 8

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 04/06/2021
Return of Assessment: 16/06/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1,2

News and Views (15%)

Write a “News and Views” style article (1000 word limit) based on the publication chosen at the start of the semester, which highlights the main findings and broad research context presented to a general science audience. Refer to “News and Views” articles in Nature and Science journals as a guide.

Note: this assignment is due during finals week, so it is considered the final "take home" exam.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

No submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date will be permitted. If an assessment task is not submitted by the due date, a mark of 0 will be awarded.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Students in this course have the benefit of being assessed by multiple primary researchers which provide extensive constructive feedback for each assignment. These detailed feedback assessments usually take about 8 working days. Students will receive feedback in time to incorporate suggestions to improve their next assignment.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

There are no resubmissions of assignments in this course.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Dr Rachael Remington
6125 2280

Research Interests

Stream ecology and evolution

Dr Rachael Remington

By Appointment
Prof Patricia Backwell
6125 5481

Research Interests

Prof Patricia Backwell

Dr Rachael Remington
6125 2280

Research Interests

Dr Rachael Remington

By Appointment

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