OTL201 – Post 3a

OTL201 Post 3a

For Lesson two of OTL201 I have decided to highlight two activities that I incorporated into BIOL 3131, Introduction to Biochemistry. Both activities are complementary to the student’s completion of their Major Project, writing a review essay on a biochemical topic of their choice. One post will describes the Literature Update activity assigned the students, whereas the next post describes the Author Correspondence activity. These activities are taken from the courses Blackboard Learn site at: https://blearn.tru.ca/bbcswebdav/pid-119740-dt-content-rid-234654_1/courses/OL_BIOL_3131_OV0_Smith_May_2014/assessments/assess.html?target=blank

The description for the Literature Update activity from the course, the topic for this post, follows.

“Literature Update

As part of your major project you will need to gather 10 or so more references that relate to your chosen topic, the more current the references the better. In the first week of the course you will complete the following tutorial on how to search for relevant literature using the Science Citation Index (SCI). Once you have selected a topic and conducted your original search you will set up a weekly alert through the SCI. The alert signals the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI), the publishers of SCI, to email you all the citations for all the articles identified by your search during the last week. Forward a copy of the email from SCI each week for 5 weeks, beginning in the fifth week of the course, in order to get credit for this assignment. It is not necessary to get any hits with your alerts to get full marks. Your Open Learning Faculty Member will post a reminder in the course schedule for you to get started on this part of the project.”

The assignment is linked to one of the learning outcomes identified in the course, namely that students will be able to “search, retrieve, evaluate and synthesize information”. This activity is worth more to the student than the 5% they are credited with in the course. It’s my experience that few undergraduate and, even more troubling some graduate students, haven’t been made aware of or utilize the tools available to them for searching and retrieving information. The skills learned from this activity are transferable and can be used in other courses and lifelong learning.

Those interested in trying to set up search can do so through most article databases. I chose to direct students to Science Citation Index because of the citation search feature of the index. The link for the resource for those with TRU credentials follows.


Although not supported in the course, students could be directed to further their knowledge of skills regarding the searching, retrieval and management of information. One such tool embedded in most databases is a reference management system (one such example is Write and Cite). This tool helps organize the information the students retrieve and saves them considerable time in writing their assignments.


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