5-6 pages double-spaced (not counting a title page, works cited, or any tables/graphs/figures you include)
Size 12 font
1 inch margins on all sides
Your paper should not be in first person (i.e. no “I” or “me”)
A minimum of 10 peer-reviewed journal articles are required
Identifying & analyzing your sources
From previous parts of this project, you should already have a good collection of sources identified. The sources you include in this paper must be recent (within the last 5-8 years) and they must be from peer-reviewed journals. At least 10 peer-reviewed journal articles are required. You may use more than 10 if necessary. The goal of your paper is to answer your research question; in most cases, that will require more than 10 sources.
In order to answer your research question, you must READ the sources in their entirety. Simply skimming the abstract and conclusion of each paper is not sufficient and will result in a paper that does not meet requirements and will earn a poor grade. As you read, pay attention to:
The study design; did they test cells, animals, or humans? How many humans? For how long did they perform the experiment?
The outcomes: what was measured? Did something change? If so, how?
What is the explanation provided by the authors for why they observed their results?
Strengths and weaknesses of each study
Interpretation of each study; make sure you are not overstating or misinterpreting any results. For example:
Correlation is not causation; an epidemiological study gives you a correlation. That does NOT mean that the keto diet caused whatever outcomes were observed. It simply means that the keto diet was correlated to the observed outcomes
Many poorly-constructed studies do not override the results of one well-constructed study
A short-duration study does not override the results of a long-duration study of similar design
A study with 10 subjects does not override a study with 10,000 subjects
You may use additional sources as well, including reputable websites (ex: American Heart Association). Older sources, as long as they are reputable, may be used in the introduction section of your paper (for example, sources outlining what the keto diet is or how it is used in management of epilepsy will likely be older).
Remember the importance of scientific consensus; one study does not “prove” anything and it certainly does not provide us with a complete overview of the topic; this is why you need to do a thorough literature search and read/incorporate many journal articles into your paper
Title (a title should tell the reader what the paper is about and should not be formatted as a question)
The course name and number
State the purpose of your paper
Provide relevant background information (for example, this is a good place to provide an overview of the keto diet and its history)
Provide an overview of the health condition or disease you plan to discuss as well
Explain the importance and relevance of this topic to human nutrition and health
End with a succinct statement that outlines what the body of your paper will be about
Briefly explain how you conducted your research. What keywords did you type into the search bar? What scientific search engine did you use? How did you ensure that your research was thorough and you didn’t miss any key papers? How did you decide what sources to use? (i.e. did you omit a paper that was older than 8 years? How did you decide which studies were good quality vs. low quality studies that you opted not to include? etc.)
This is where you present the information you found during your research. How to organize this is up to you; you can talk about the studies you found in chronological order, you can group them by study type, by outcome, or however makes the most sense
As you discuss each study, provide a brief overview including the methodology the researchers used and the results. Don’t copy/paste or quote anything from those papers; you need to read them and understand them enough to put things in your own words. That probably means you’ll need to look up some vocabulary words and learn some new things
A good-quality research paper doesn’t simply list information about one study and then move onto the next one. Synthesize the information. Make connections. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the studies. Identify similarities and differences. Compare and contrast. Demonstrate your ability to think about the information at a deeper level and critically analyze it. Use the research you have done to build an answer to your research question
You likely came into your topic with some preconceived ideas; those may turn out to be incorrect, and that’s okay. Research must be conducted objectively and with an open mind. As future scientists and nutrition professionals, it’s our responsibility to follow the science and adjust our points of view as new scientific information comes to light. You don’t earn points for being right; you earn points for being objective and thorough
Along those lines, all sides of the issue should be addressed in this paper. While there is science to support that the keto diet may show potential in certain situations, there are also plenty of scientific studies addressing the potential downsides of this diet. Those need to be addressed as well. Nothing in science is ever a miracle solution and everything has side effects… those need to be discussed objectively
If you ignore most of the current literature or latch onto a few small or poorly-conducted studies in order to make sure your conclusion is what you want it to be, you will lose a lot of points
Begin with a succinct reminder of your research question and a summary of the evidence
This is where you draw conclusions based on the research you have presented. This is not the place to introduce new sources or address other topics. You are simply synthesizing all the information you have found and drawing a conclusion
This is also an appropriate time to outline the questions that may still need to be answered or the research that remains to be done on your topic
It’s okay if your conclusion is that more research is needed or that the answer remains unclear. Whatever your conclusion is, it must align with the information you have provided in previous sections of the paper
Every single fact in your paper needs to be cited in AMA format. This includes an in-text citation at the end of the sentence(s) that contain information from a source and a works cited list at the end of the paper
AMA citation format:
Failure to adhere to AMA citation format will result in an automatic 10% reduction in your grade on this paper
Do not cite something that you have not read
Do not cite something that someone else cited; go find that source and read it and then, if appropriate, incorporate the information into your paper and cite it
If you end up not using all the sources from your annotated bibliography, that’s okay
You may not use the class notes, textbook, or Professor DiMarco as a source
Other things to keep in mind
Please label each section of your paper using headings and subheadings
You do not need to write an abstract
A scientific research paper is not a place for your personal thoughts or opinions. How you personally feel about the keto diet is not relevant. Whether you follow the keto diet is not relevant. Whether you love (or hate) it and think it’s the best (or worst) thing in the world is not relevant. This is a scientific paper examining the scientific evidence surrounding the diet. Be sure to remain objective and avoid letting your own personal biases influence your research or writing in any way.
Grammar, organization, and flow
This is not an English class so you will not primarily be graded on grammar. However, if your paper is sloppy and contains many errors, you will lose points. In order to be taken seriously as a researcher or a nutrition professional, you need to be able to communicate properly. This includes spelling things correctly, writing complete sentences, and formatting things in a way that another person can read and understand
You also need to demonstrate the ability to think your way through a topic; if your paper is disorganized, jumps from place to place, or does not have any type of transition or connections between topics, it will weaken your argument. Be logical and organize the information in such a way that it builds toward your ultimate conclusion.
The entire paper needs to be in your own words
You may not use any direct quotes
You also may not ‘paraphrase’ by taking a sentence from elsewhere and changing a couple words. That’s not paraphrasing, that’s plagiarism. Form your own sentences and paragraphs from scratch by reading, understanding, and synthesizing the information
If you have taken this class before, you may not submit your research paper from last time; that’s called self-plagiarism
Failure to properly cite your sources (including incorrect citations, partial citations, or missing citations) is also plagiarism, as you are not giving proper credit to the source of the information
More info on avoiding plagiarism can be found here: https://libguides.gatech.edu/c.php?g=54271&p=350397 (Links to an external site.)
After you submit your paper, it will be run through a plagiarism tracker
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