BISP 194 Neural Prostheses

Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria

1. Presentations

Each of you will be a member of a group that will make a 40-minute presentation of one of the assigned research papers. This includes approximately 30 minutes for the presentation and 10 minutes for questions and discussion. Each member of the group should be prepared to answer questions or engage in discussion of their portion of the presentation.

Each presenter should prepare between 2-5 (Powerpoint) slides, handouts, or chalkboard drawings. If you do use Powerpoint, you should bring your own computer (with the entire presentation on the one computer) and backup copy of the entire presentation on a CD or memory stick.

Each presentation should cover the following:

2. In-class participation and written evaluations

Your participation during discussions will be part of your final evaluation. To prepare for your participation in class, you are expected to read each paper before it is presented in class and to be prepared to discuss it. For your convenience electronic links to all papers (in PDF format) will be posted on-line (see further below).

After each of the presentations, you will fill out an evaluation (posted on-line) of the presentation including constructive comments on the group's presentation of the background material and data in each paper. Additionally, you will have a chance to observe and comment on presentation styles of the presenters. Excerpts of these comments (the most insightful and instructive) will be provided to the group as part of my evaluation and grade assignment.

3. Quizzes

At the beginning of class (Week 3 through Week 10), we will hold a brief quiz on the research article assigned for that week. The questions will test your general understanding of the article. Electronic links to the articles, which you should read before the class meeting, will be posted on-line at least one week prior to the class meeting.

For articles subject to copyright restrictions, the links on the class web-site point to the publisher's on-line version of the article (including a copy in PDF format). To access these articles from a computer outside of the domain, I recommend that you configure your web browser to connect to a proxy server.

4. Final essay

The final requirement for the class is a written essay, one by each student, on one of the topics covered in the presentations in class. Your essay can be based on the research article that you and your group (or another group) presented, but should go beyond it. Your essay could review one or several articles on the chosen topic, and be critical of the presented views and contributions. The style of your essay should be that of a review article like one that typically accompanies a major research article in a periodical like Nature or Science, introducing the contribution and framing its place in the field.

The format of your essay should follow that of a short research review article, not exceeding four single-spaced pages. Like your presentation, the essay should include a summary of the authors' work, an analysis of the results, and an evaluation of how well the authors support their claims. If there are problems with the authors' approach, these should be discussed. For essays discussing several research articles, compare the different approaches and evaluate their merits. Where you replicate any published material (such as copies of figures, or verbatim text), clearly indicate and cite the source. Include a bibliography that is representative of the scientific literature on the subject. Any statements that go beyond the message of the reviewed article(s) should be documented with citations to the open (preferrably peer-reviewed) literature.

Although each individual should turn in his or her own write-up, I encourage you to discuss the topics and research articles among yourselves.

Your essay is due by March 17, 2009, at 5pm PST. Submit your essay in PDF format by e-mail to, with "BISP 194 final" in the subject header. Afterwards, you will have an opportunity to read and comment on your peers' essays, and to provide your input to the evaluation process.

A selection of the highest rated essays will be invited for publication in the Saltman Quarterly, UCSD's Undergraduate Journal of Science.