The purpose of these responses is to make sure that you have read and thought about a paper on the day's topic prior to attending class, so that you will have some background in the area and will be better prepared to understand the other paper(s) presented and to participate in the discussion. The format, due dates, and marking scheme are designed to achieve this aim.
Responses should be divided into a summary (1-2 paragraphs), and a commentary (1 paragraph), with a total length of roughly 250 words and no more than 350.
Each student must turn in a response during every class where there is a paper presentation, including any paper presentations given by the instructors, with two exceptions:
Rather than dealing with illnesses, travel, and forgetfulness on an individual basis, our policy is to simply permit each student to skip exactly two responses without penalty. The only excuses we will consider are extended illness (with documentation) or other special circumstances.
Responses are not expected for the day you are presenting. Thus, students are expected to submit at least N-3 responses in total, where N is the total number of paper presentations.
You must read and respond to one of the papers listed for the topic being presented that day; it need not be one of the papers actually presented. Unless otherwise specified, you must choose a modelling paper to read and respond to (i.e., not one labelled as [Emp]irical or [Rev]iew. We encourage you to read these papers for useful background, but responses should be to one of the other papers.)
Please include your name, ID number, and the name of the paper you are responding to.
If you think of additional questions or comments during the presentation, it is acceptable to add these to your response in handwriting. However fully handwritten responses will not be accepted.
For examples, see tcm_sample_responses.pdf, which is available from the course web site. Here are some general guidelines.
For your summary, mention the question(s) being addressed in the paper, the method used, and any key results. For longer papers, it will not be possible to summarize the entire content of the paper (especially if there are multiple experiments or comparisons); it's ok to focus on one or two important points.
Include enough detail to make it clear that you read and understood the paper, but no more.
Explain any key terminology or concepts you refer to.
For your commentary, include some analysis, comparison, or question you had while reading the paper. For example, do you see any problems with the model? Are there aspects of the phenomenon that it doesn't capture? Do you find the results believable or not, and why? Are you confused about why they made the choices they did?
If there are technical parts of the paper you didn't understand, it's okay to say so. Be clear about what terms or ideas didn't understand, and try to explain why: an adequate commentary will say more than "I didn't understand [X]". We would rather see you explain why you didn't understand something than simply ignore it. You should still make an attempt to understand the main claims of the paper.
Try to relate the questions in the paper to larger themes in the course if possible.
We encourage you to read and discuss the papers with other students, as this is a great way to learn. You can even discuss the general content of your response with others. However, you should write your response on your own and away from your friends as this is the only way to ensure that you understood the paper.
Similarly, feel free to search for papers or other materials that will help you to understand what you are reading. However, your response must follow the usual principles of good scholarship. If you use any ideas, quotations or even close paraphrases from outside sources, you must cite the source. Not doing so is considered plagiarism and is subject to the University's usual procedures as such. For details on plagiarism and plagiarism policies at the University, see this guide. See also the Essay guidance handout for this course.
If you copy any text from the target paper, you should quote it just as you would an outside source.
The total contribution of all responses to your final course mark is 25%. Each response will be given equal weight. Responses will be marked on a 0-5 scale, divided into two points for the summary and three points for the commentary.
The summary can receive 0-2 points, as follows:
0: Missing or completely inadequate. For example, a description of the paper based entirely on the abstract.
1: Acceptable, but needs work. For example, the summary is unclear or misses some important aspect of the paper.
2: Good. Awarded to clear and coherent summaries the touch on all of the key points of the paper
The commentary can receive 0-3 points, as follows:
This marking scheme is more lenient than the standard we will apply to final essays. Even if you get a 5, do not assume your response is perfect. Pay close attention to any written feedback, especially if there are recurring themes in the feedback for different responses. Doing so will help you recognize potential problems to avoid in writing your final essay.
Though we will often add brief feedback, due to the large number of responses to be marked, you should not expect lengthy comments, or comments on every submission. If you have specific questions about one of your submissions, please feel free to ask about it.
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