Courtesy of Linda Sherwood, Montana State University

In today's world, many societal, ethical, and political issues seem to be more contentious and complicated than ever before. We as citizens are being asked to voice our opinions on matters that we may be ill prepared to analyze. Many of today's issues are directly or indirectly related to the activities of microorganisms. In this assignment, you will identify such an issue, determine the two sides of the issue, collect a minimum of 20 relevant articles, books, or web sites, then write a short paper summarizing the debate. Below are the directions for completing this assignment.

STEP 1 IDENTIFY AN ISSUE OF INTEREST TO YOU. I will give you tremendous latitude in this choice. However, the issue must be one of significance, having local, regional, national, or international impact. Below is a list of suggested issues. You are not limited to this list, so feel free to identify your own issue.

Possible Issues

Origin of Life

Bioremediation vs. Traditional Methods for Dealing with Hazardous Wastes

Use of Genetically Engineered Organisms in Agriculture

Use of Chlorine in Waste Water Treatment

Ruminants and Global Warming

Partner-Notification to Control AIDS Epidemic

Clean-Needle Programs to Control AIDS Epidemic

Gene Therapy

Genetically Engineered Fruit and Vegetable Plants

Irradiation of Foods

Use of Antibiotics in Animal Feeds

Genetic Testing

Transpecies Transplants and the Spread of Infectious Disease

Plastic or Paper Bags?


STEP 2 WRITE AN ISSUE STATEMENT. State the issue in one terse paragraph. In this paragraph, clearly indicate the two sides of the issue and identify the major parties in the debate.

STEP 3 SEE THE INSTRUCTOR. She will read your issue statement and modify or refine it if necessary so that the assignment can be done in the time allotted.

STEP 4 PREPARE THE ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY. Use the full range of library information sources to identify a minimum of 20 articles, books or web sites relevant to your issue. For each resource present the full citation: author, title, journal, volume, page, etc. Each citation should also include a short statement (2 - 3 sentences) summarizing why the article, book, or web site is relevant and important to your issue.

STEP 5 WRITE A SUMMARY PAPER. This paper should be typewritten, double-spaced, and approximately 2 - 3 pages in length; it will be returned if it is handwritten. It should summarize the main arguments on each side of the chosen issue. It should also evaluate the evidence used by each side and reach a conclusion as to the strength of the arguments made.

STEP 6 TURN IN THE ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY ON TIME. Late bibliographies will not be accepted.

GRADING This assignment will be graded using the attached score sheet. Submit the score sheet with the bibliography and summary paper. If the paper is plagiarized, it will be returned, ungraded.



___ Completeness of Bibliography (9 Points) a

Signed Issue Statement Attached

Number of Citations

Reader Can Locate All Documents in Library or WWW

Summary Statement for Each Document Is Included

  • Yes (1)b ___
  • No (0)___

  • 20 (3)___
  • 15-19 (2)___
  • Less than 14 (1)__
  • Always (3)___
  • Usually (2)___
  • Rarely (1)___
  • Never (0)___
  • 1 statement / citation (2)___
  • 1-5 citations lack summary statement (1)___
  • More than 6 citations lack summary statement (0)___
a Number of possible points.
b The numbers in parentheses indicate the mastery level.

To Score:

___Quality of Bibliography (14 Points)

Documents Are Pertinent to Issue

Documents Are from Unbiased Sources

Balance of Pro/Con Documents

Documents Are Up-to-Date (less than 10 years old)

Documents Are from Reputable Sources of Scientific Information

  • All (3)___
  • Most (2)___
  • Many are not (1)___
  • None (0)___ _______
  • All (3)___
  • Most (2)___
  • Many are not (1)___
  • None (0)___
  • About 50:50 (including documents that present both sides) (4)___
  • Majority of documents argue for the same side of the issue (2)___
  • Most are (2)___
  • Many are not (1)___
  • None (0)___
  • Many (2)___
  • Few (1)___
  • None (0)___

To Score:

___Quality of Summary Paper (13 Points)

Clearly States Major Arguments for Each Side

Accurately States Major Arguments for Each Side

Demonstrates Thoughtful Evaluation of Arguments Made by Each Side

Makes Statement of Relative Strength of Arguments Using Knowledge Gained in Course

Uses Language That Can Be Understood by Non-Scientist

  • Yes (3) ___
  • Somewhat vague or unclear (2)___
  • Difficult to understand (1)___


  • Yes (3)___
  • Some inaccuracies (2)___
  • Many inaccuracies (1)___

  • Yes (3)___
  • Good try (2)___
  • Major confusion about arguments (1)___
  • No attempt to evaluate (0)___

  • Yes (2)___
  • No (0)___

  • Usually (2)___
  • Infrequently (1)___
  • Never (0)___

To Score:

___Quality of Writing (14 points)

Overall Organization

Paragraph Structure

Sentence Structure

Proofreading & Editing

Scientific Names Are Written Properly

  • Overall presentation is logical and the main theses of the paper are easily understood (3) ___
  • Some organization problems, but the main theses of the paper are easily understood (2)___
  • Organization is so poor that the main theses of the paper are difficult to understand (1)___

  • Consistently good paragraph structure is observed (2)___
  • Poorly constructed paragraphs are frequently observed (1)___


  • Grammatical errors are rare (3)___
  • Grammatical errors are relatively common, but do not significantly impact readers ability to understand meaning of sentence (2)___
  • Grammatical errors are so serious and/or frequent that understanding sentences is difficult (1)___

  • No typos and spelling errors (3)___
  • Some typos and spelling errors (2)___
  • Many typos and spelling errors (1)___


  • Always (3)___
  • Usually (2)___
  • Rarely (1)___
  • Never (0)___


To Score: Sum the mastery levels and record the total as the points earned

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