Paper guidelines

Review Paper: (Due the last day our class meets)

Submit at the drop box on the CTools site for Epid 509

And please provide your reviews and suggestions for the course

Timeline for preparation of research and writing for review paper:

  • March 9:  Deadline for abstract (10% of total grade)
  • End of March: Deadline for turning in preliminary draft (10% of total grade) SUBMIT BY EMAIL BY 5PM ON MARCH 31.
  • Last class: Deadline for turning in final paper (20% of total grade)

The review paper constitutes a major portion of the course grade.  To optimize learning and potential to do well on the paper, there will be three related assignments:  an abstract, a rough draft, and final version.

ABSTRACT (Due March 9, 10% of grade)  see special instructions below for the outline format

Purpose: to help you begin thinking about a paper topic, and get feedback on it early on in the writing stage.  The paper purpose is to explore ideas presented in class and in the readings by applying them to a specific disease or manifestation of disease or a specific aspect of behavior. 

Format:  No more than 2 double-spaced pages, 12 point font, 1.25" margins.

Content:  Describe your topic of interest, and its medical and public health importance.  Propose up to 3 hypotheses based on evolutionary theory that might explain some aspect of your topic.  (See paper guidelines for more on hypotheses.)  Comment on why an evolutionary perspective might change public health policy or medical practice related to this specific problem.

Purpose:  to explore ideas presented in class and in the readings by applying them to a specific disease or manifestation of disease or a specific aspect of behavior.  You may choose any disease, symptom, or health problem that interests you. 

 Here are some suggestions:

[The list below is from a class that was on evolution and medicine.  A somewhat different collection of topics will be more appropriate for our class on public health]


Coronary heart disease


Inflammatory bowel disease



Obsessive-compulsive disorder


Erythroblastosis fetalis


Rheumatoid arthritis


Acute myelocytic leukemia


Precocious puberty

Marfan’s syndrome

Muscular dystrophy

Cystic fibrosis


Antibiotic resistance



Peptic ulcers


Wilson’s disease

Specific allergies

Breast cancer


Alzheimer’s disease



West Nile virus

Opportunistic nosocomial infections

Sleeping sickness

Dengue hemorrhagic fever

Panic attacks

Multiple sclerosis

Huntington’s chorea

Prion diseases (CJD, mad cow)

Paper Contents (both draft and final)

Format: 8-10 pages long (double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 point font, 1.25” margins).

Your paper should be written in the format of a research paper or proposal. Follow the outline shown, below.  Use the Roman numerals to identify each section. 

DRAFT FORMAT: Use the following outline to create a detailed outline for your paper 3-4 pages in length (double-spaced Times New Roman, 12 point font, 1.25” margins). Include references to support your assertions; references should be to textbooks or articles in the scientific literature.

Your paper should have the following outline, use the Roman Numerals as headers in your paper & in the outline:

I.        Describe the disease or symptom or phenomenon that you are trying to explain.  This should be one to two pages and should define the disease and provide a brief summary of what is known about its epidemiology (how often does it occur, variables correlated with occurrence & frequency of adverse outcomes) and its proximate causes.  You may be able to get most of what you need from a standard medical textbook, several of which are online at the Taubman Library website under “Full text resources,”  or by searching on review papers on PUBMED.

II.   State your hypotheses (which must be based on evolutionary theory, try to limit to two).  

III.  Critically evaluate the literature supporting or refuting each of your hypotheses.  

IV.   Summarize your conclusions based on which hypotheses you found the most support for and say what kinds of further studies or evidence would help to further resolve the issue

V.   Choose your favorite hypothesis.  Assuming the hypothesis is true,  how might the application of this finding change public health policy or medical practice. Be specific!

Format: 8-10 pages long (double spaced, Times 12 point font, 1.25” margins ).

References:  You are expected to use references from primary literature.  This will mean going to the library and using academic journals and books.  Web citations from informal sources in most cases, are NOT appropriate, but if you do use info from the web, be sure to cite the course.   When you cite a reference in your paper you should use the (author, date; author, date) format, as exemplified below.

In the bibliography, references should be cited, in APA style, as follows:

Kitaysky, A. S., E. V. Kitaiskaia, J. C. Wingfield, and J. F. Piatt. 2001. Dietary restriction causes chronic elevation of corticosterone and enhances stress response in red-legged kittiwake chicks. Journal of Comparative Physiology B-Biochemical Systemic and Environmental Physiology 171:701-709.

Sapolsky, R. M. 2002. Endocrinology of the Stress-Response. Pp. 409-450 (in J. B. Becker, S. M. Breedlove, D. Crews, and M. M. McCarthy, editors). Behavioral Endocrinology. M.I.T. Press, Cambridge.

The final paper should have at least 8 scientific references in it and your outline (due before spring break) should list at least five relevant references. Use this resource guide or complete this online tutorial if you have any questions about what a scientific reference is or how to find one.

The bibliography is not included in the 10-page limit.