Nutr 481 – Section 901 Monday 11: 30 – 12: 20 127 Kleberg Center Instructor

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NUTR 481 – Section 901

Monday 11:30 – 12:20

127 Kleberg Center
Instructor: E.D. Harris


Office: 214A Biochemistry Bldg
Office Phone: 845-3642
Office Hours: By appointment – just e-mail me for one
Prerequisite: Senior classification in Nutritional Sciences
Course description: Review and critique of current research literature in the nutritional sciences.

Culminates in oral presentations, a research paper and critical discussions.

Text: No required text. Readings will be provided in class.
Evaluation: Student presentation 25 points

Abstract 15 points

Final paper 60 points

TOTAL 100 points
Final grade: Based on following scale:

A 90 – 100

B 80 – 89

C 70 – 79

D 60 – 69

F < 60
Class policies: No late assignments will be accepted

Cell phones: Cell phones and PDA’s must be turned off or to vibrate. If it is an emergency and you must take a call, please leave the classroom.
Attendance: Attendance is mandatory. University rules apply governing what constitutes an excused absence. The following link lists what Texas A&M considers excusable absences: Absences caused by illness or injury will need to be accompanied by a physicians note. Please be aware that the validity of notes will be confirmed through the physician’s office. Each un-excused absence will result in 2 points being subtracted from your final grade.
Plagiarism: As commonly defined, plagiarism consists of passing off as one's own the ideas, words, writings, etc., which belong to another. In accordance with this definition, you are committing plagiarism if you copy the work of another person and turn it in as your own, even if you should have the permission of that person. Plagiarism is one of the worst academic sins, for the plagiarist destroys the trust among colleagues without which research cannot be safely communicated. We have the option of using “Turnitin” software to check for cases of plagiarism so that we can help you identify where you have made this mistake in the paper draft. It will then be up to you to avoid this mistake in the final paper.
Academic Integrity: As stated in Texas A&M’s Student Rules:

Student Rule 2.15: Plagiarism is the intentional use of ideas, words or data of another person without giving appropriate credit.

Student Rule 20.1: Commission of the following acts shall constitute scholastic dishonesty.

Student Rule 20.1.3: Plagiarism: Failing to credit sources used in a work product in an attempt to pass off the work as one's own. Attempting to receive credit for work performed by another, including papers obtained in whole or in part from individuals or other sources.

Student Rule 20.1.4: Conspiracy: Agreeing with one or more persons to commit any act of scholastic dishonesty.

To ensure your understanding of academic integrity, plagiarism, and the importance of citation, you are required to complete two online tutorials through the TAMU Libraries web page for this course. To complete each tutorial and its accompanying proficiencies:

  • Go to TAMU Libraries

  • Use the Quick Link for Academic Integrity Tutorial.

  • Go to My Portal Login. You must login to be able to email me the results of the proficiencies. Once you have logged in, click on Take a Tutorial.

  • Complete the Citing Resources and the Academic Integrity (Students) tutorial (under heading of Plagiarism, Academic Integrity). Once you have completed the tutorial, email me your results by the specified date (see class schedule for due dates). To email me the results of the proficiencies:

    • Once you submit your answers and receive your score, return to My Portal.

    • Under My Tutorials click on View and Email Quiz Results and send to

  • Failure to complete these tutorials (with a passing grade) and send the results of the proficiencies to me will result in a deduction of 3 points from your final grade.

Plagiarism on any assignment will not be tolerated, and it will be recommended that you receive an “F” in this course if evidence of plagiarism is found.

Cheating: Aggies do not lie, cheat, or steal, nor do they tolerate those who do
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Policy Statement: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal antidiscrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Department of Student Life, Services for Students with Disabilities in Room B118 of Cain Hall or call 845-1637.

NUTR 481 - 901 – Class Schedule

8/25 Introduction: Course goals, Signup for oral presentation

9/1 Searching Literature Databases

a. Ovid

b. Pubmed
9/08 Evaluating a Research Publication

a. Organization of a journal article

b. Outline of a critical review article

Homework: read articles on Web for discussion next week

9/15 Class discussion of research articles using criteria for critical evaluation

Online Student Resources on Academic Integrity proficiency results due by 8:00 a.m.

Identify aspects of papers that contribute to their written quality.

9/22 Example seminar presentation & How to Prepare & Deliver a Presentation; Using the Smart Board for presentations

Online Citation Tutorial proficiency results due by 8:00 a.m. Deadline for submitting abstracts of 10 papers you anticipate citing in your paper (e-mail)*.

Discussion of questions concerning style for written assignments.

9/29 Student seminars
10/6 Student seminars
10/13 Student seminars
10/20 Student seminars (abstract of paper due)*
10/27 Student seminars
11/3 Student seminars (paper draft due)**
11/10 Student seminars
11/17 Student seminars (final paper due)*
11/27 Thanksgiving
11/31 Course evaluations and graduating class exit survey
*To be submitted via e-mail as an attachment in the Word format.

**Will be returned to you with suggestions applied by “Track-Changes”


  • Students are expected to attend each class session and to be in class on time.

    • Points will be deducted for each class missed.

    • The Texas A&M policy on excused absences will be followed. See Texas A&M web page at under Part I: Academic Rules for a list of University excused absences.

    • You must attend only your assigned section.

    • If an absence cannot be avoided, please notify me prior to class.


  • Discussion questions: Once student presentations begin, students will receive the abstracts of the papers for each person’s presentations the week prior to the class the presentation will be given. Students are expected to become familiar with the topic by reviewing the abstracts prior to class so that you are better able to ask appropriate questions after the respective seminar.

    • Questions should be thoughtful. Simply asking a question does not fulfill your participation requirement.

    • All students will take part in the discussion following an oral presentation. I will call on each of you to present a thoughtful question to the speaker. In addition you will be asked to fill out the critique form with your score and comments for improvement. The latter will be done incognito.

Select a nutrition-related topic of interest and come up with a thesis or question to answer. The papers do not necessarily have to agree with each other. The topic selected should be focused enough to allow you the opportunity to develop a good conclusion.

  • Do NOT select something as broad as diet and breast cancer.

  • A reasonably focused topic would be “Dietary phytoestrogens as factors to lower the risk of developing breast cancer”.

This is not an English course. Nonetheless, good writing skills are necessary for the accurate dissemination of information and you, yourself as an educated and credible purveyor of knowledge. Therefore, heed your spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors on all written assignments. Points will be deducted for incoherent statements and non sequitur reasoning. All documents must be double-spaced, with 1-inch margins and be in a 12-point font.

The assignments described are all designed to help you develop the final paper. Therefore, you will receive feedback on each of them that should be used in preparing the written document.

Plagiarism is unacceptable and will result in a zero on the assignment.

The draft version of your paper gives us a chance to provide you with feedback on the document prior to submitting the final version. The draft is due the 10th week of class.

  • The text must be at least 10 pages long (double-spaced, 1 inch margins, 12 pt. font).

  • There must be a minimum of 10 references of original research articles (not review articles) to support your hypothesis/thesis. You may use review articles but they must be in addition to the 10 references citing original research. In class you will be instructed on how to distinguish an original research article from a review article.

  • Your paper should be written like a mini-review article. Include data in tables and figures to support your statements. Do not simply copy and paste these from the references you are using – you need to create your own using only relevant information from the papers.

  • The paper must show critical thinking. This becomes evident because you will:

    • Critique the studies and the information contained in them. This is especially important when conclusions derived by the authors of various papers are not in agreement. This could happen when the studies do not have the same subject pool, experimental design or objectives. Its up to you to spot the differences and point out possible causes of disagreement in your review.

    • You will have synthesized your own conclusion based on the information discussed in the references you use as opposed to simply presenting an idea discussed in another course or a pre-existing belief you held prior to reading the papers. (The conclusion cannot be simply that more research must be performed to derive a conclusion.).

    • Remember, you are NOT a reporter, you are a critical reviewer. A reporter simply tells what is happening, letting the authors of the work provide the comments. A reviewer takes the findings, assesses their validity, and is prepared to render judgment on their accuracy based on facts presented. The greatest number points, perhaps the difference between an A, B, or C grade, rests on how well you show a critical understanding of the topic you have chosen and separate opinion from fact.

FINAL PAPER (60 Points)
The final version of your paper must be submitted electronically by the 12th week of class.

  • Content and presentation of the information will be worth 55 points.

  • Grammar and style will be worth 5 points.

ABSTRACT (15 Points)
The abstract should provide a concise overview of the papers and presentation. Once you have outlined your paper and have a clear overview of how it will be organized and presented, you may prepare an abstract of the work. The abstract must be submitted electronically by the 8th week of class. It should be written as a single paragraph avoiding references, figures and tables, and between 300 and 400 words. Remember, the abstract is a brief synopsis of your final paper. Include the abstract in your final paper as well.

  • The presentation should be an overview of the topic selected for your paper. It is to be prepared in the PowerPoint format and brought to the class on a “memory stick”. You may also opt to download your presentation from your library “portal”.

  • Do not simply go through each of the papers used for your paper. To provide an overview you must be very selective in the information presented. The presentation needs to contain:

    • Introduction

    • Hypothesis

    • Body of the talk including figures/tables

    • Conclusion

    • Suggestion for new research

  • Practicing for your presentation is recommended. You can sign-up for practice times in Kleberg 218. Practice times are limited to 15 minutes. Students are responsible for locking the computer room and the main door to the practice room when you leave.

  • The presentation must be no more than 20 minutes in length. The presentation will be followed by a 5-10 minute question/answer period. Because of time constraints, classes will start promptly.

  • Grading of the presentation component is shown on the evaluation sheet.

Seminar Evaluation Form
1. Knowledge of topic and evidence of research for presentation /5
2. Organization of presentation /5
3. Personal confidence, voice, eye contact and absence of

distracting mannerisms. /3

4. Use of visuals to support presentation and quality of visuals. /3
5. Awareness of time and length of seminar (15 ± 2 minutes). /3
6. Scientific merit of information presented. /3
7. Response to questions /3
Total /25 points

Strengths of presentation:

Items to modify if you were to do it again:






A consistent leader in the discussion/learning of the class. Is always prepared. Has read the assigned material for the class meeting and contributes to the understanding of the text and/or the analysis of the case or problem under consideration. Listens holistically and responds meaningfully to the comments of other students. An initiator of activity in the class.
Reasonably frequent participator in class. Responds to other students as well as instructor. Occasionally takes the lead in introducing a new relevant subject. Volunteers illustrations from his or her own experience or knowledge about the subjects under discussion.
Occasional contributions to the class. Occasional responses to the remarks of other students. Rarely initiates a discussion.
Answers questions from the instructor. Seldom, if ever, takes part in class activities.
Takes no part in class room discussion or activities.

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