We will be submitting scientific proposals and peer reviewing these in class twice through the semester. (For information on these Communication Projects, please see the “Information on Communication Projects” document.) This method is a different form of reporting and communicating science than the collaborative work and notebooks we have been valuing so far. Recognizing this, we built in two main ways to help develop these proposals through the semester:

  1. Communication-Project Homework (CPHW) assignments intended to help develop specific aspects of writing and reviewing a proposal
  2. A prep day to help you and your group collaborate and critique each other's presentations.

This document will give you necessary information regarding what will happen that day in class as well as what you should do to prepare for it.

While scientists often conduct research in collaborative groups, they typically report their results independently, designating a primary author that stands out among the rest of the collaboration. In this way, each person has their own research area they can carve for themselves while promoting their collaborators nicely. This should also be true for you and your group while writing your proposals – your group is likely your most valuable resource, but the work you present should stand on its own. As such, during the prep day, your group will be given time to discuss plans for your proposals and are encouraged to present on different topics. Even though everyone is presenting on the same experiment (i.e., Free Fall), there are many different conceptual and experimental aspects your group has explored. Distinguishing the critical aspects that lead to your proposal should help you and your group determine what parts you are presenting on independently.

Through discussions with your group, you should be able to develop unique and thorough proposals that can be effectively argued for. To develop the most compelling proposal, you will need to have a strong grasp on your previous work – how it was conducted, what the results were, effective ways to present the data, and what conclusions can be drawn. During the prep day, you will have the opportunity to discuss these with your group. You may discover that your data isn't complete or effective enough to develop conclusions, but equipment will be available to take and analyze more data to strengthen and motivate your proposal. Your tutors will also be available to answer any questions you may have, although your group is likely to be your best resources for the day.

Because a proposal focuses as much on the work yet to come as it does previous work, you will also have time to start developing your ideas for future study in order to argue for it effectively. To utilize your time in class productively, you are encouraged to come in with a couple ideas to discuss with your group. Through these discussions, you should ensure that each group member is proposing an original idea. Feel free to be creative with your ideas – while the experiments are based on physics concepts, future directions of study can easily incorporate many scientific fields and specializations.

When leaving class for the day, you are not expected to have a completed proposal, but you should have all the tools you need to do so. Often, the time and discussions in class are best used to develop an outline for your work that you can use outside of class as you complete the proposal. Remember, we are not ascribing a specific format to follow, and you will not be assessed on the format of your piece. Rather, assessment will focus on the content and clarity of your proposal as well as the ability to argue for your ideas effectively, so it is recommended to focus your discussion on these areas.

As stated above, you will likely develop an outline of your proposal that describes how you will expand on important features. It will be up to you and your group to critique each other's outlines such that you each can write an individual proposal. It may be useful to consider the previous Communication Project Homework assignments and feedback, as well as the primary learning goals of the course. A set of rough suggestions follows:

  1. Abstract
    1. Can you summarize the important areas of your previous work? Are there aspects you can leave out to maintain a narrow focus?
    2. Can you summarize the goal of your future studies? What do you intend to probe and how do you motivate this work?
    3. Can you draw connections between the past and future work? How did your previous results and conclusions lead you to your suggested investigation?
  2. Critique
    1. Using peer review techniques, incorporating the feedback you received, can you strengthen your group members' understanding and proposals?
      1. Identify aspects that the group member has successfully presented their ideas.
      2. Identify areas that could be strengthened. Can you justify the need for improvement and make suggestions to do so?
    2. Considering the critiques you are giving, can you reflect on your own work and recognize areas of success as well as possible improvement?
    3. Are you and your group members considering all aspects of the project guidelines as well as the rubric for the assignment?
  3. Themes Present:
    1. Uncertainty
      1. How is uncertainty discussed? Are there steps your classmate can take to improve their incorporation of uncertainty into the proposal?
      2. Are there concerns or considerations you have regarding the ideas for future work? Are these being addressed?
    2. Equipment
      1. There are pieces of equipment that are critical to the completion of the project. Identify ways they have emphasized this and filtered the important parts of the setup from the extra aspects. Can you think of ways they can expand on this aspect that would make it understandable for a reader/reviewer? How can they make it more clear even for those that have never used this equipment or setup?
      2. Has the author considered what equipment or methods would be necessary in the future?
    3. Communication – The proposal is intended to provide enough information to researchers that have not conducted the experiment themselves. How can they develop their ideas further that would communicate the important aspects more clearly?
      1. Considering the previous work, has the author presented it in way to establish confidence that they can successfully undertake further study?
      2. Considering the future work, has the author argued a need for further study?
      3. Has the author connected the two aspects, using the conclusions from the previous study to motivate the future work?

As described above, your group will be working hard to develop individual proposals that report out your experimental results and argue for future study. To help you and your group work effectively, it will be important to bring in a rough outline/set of answers to the following topics:

  1. Which aspect(s) of the experiment did you want to focus on specifically? *(Sometimes experiments may cover more concepts/ideas than you can effectively communicate in a proposal or that go beyond scope of the future work, so narrowing down the focus to what you find interesting can often help)*
  2. Do you have sufficient data? If you feel your data is insufficient or low quality, can you explain why? Be prepared to discuss with your group where things went wrong and what you can do in the future to strengthen the data. Can you devise a plan to improve the data?
  3. Do you have questions about the data or how data were taken that you can bring to the group to discuss and clarify?
  4. Do you have questions about the physics concepts within this experiment that you are unsure of and need clarification?
  5. What direction(s) could you take this work in the future? Can you think of at least two ideas that are motivated by your previous work that would be interesting to investigate? *(Feel free to be creative. While the work should be motivated by your previous studies, explorations that expand to areas beyond physics are acceptable and encouraged.) *

When you have completed the topics above, please upload this to LON-CAPA. There is a homework assignment to upload this file, which will be graded for completion only. This will also help the tutors prepare for the best way to engage with you during this prep day.

  • communication_project_prep.txt
  • Last modified: 2019/08/20 14:23
  • by river