Research in Animal Science: Fall, 2010

Instructor: Sarah Ralston, VMD, PhD, Associate Professor

                    Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Nutrition

Bartlett Hall, room 209, 732-932-9404 (Office) 732-330-9130 (Cell), ralston@aesop.rutgers.edu.

Objectives: To familiarize the students with the principles of research, including data collection and analysis, evaluation of scientific literature in addition to the handling and training of young horses.

Schedule: We will meet for 1 hour every Thursday at 8:00 AM in the Bartlett Library (unless otherwise contacted) to discuss research papers and proposals, weekly events, schedules.

Expectations: Students will be graded on their participation in group discussions of the research and program related issues, performance in the barns and/or laboratory, and a research paper (See below).  Be aware that the OFFICIAL Rutgers definition of grades (in bold) and my interpretations are as follows:

A= Outstanding (SLR Interpretation: Exceptional effort/performance in at least one area of endeavor) (barns, research, paper)

B+         (SLR Interpretation: Good effort/performance in more than 1 area)

B=Good (SLR Interpretation: Good effort/ performance in at least 1 area).

 C+         (SLR Interpretation: meets minimum barn/paper requirements only as       
             absolutely necessary but acceptable performance without excessive 
prodding)

C=Satisfactory:(SLR Interpretation: meets basal requirements for barn duty/paper only as absolutely necessary-barely acceptable performance)

D=Poor:  (SLR Interpretation: frequently fails to show up/complete tasks, needs constant prodding, poor attitude, little effort or thought expended on research paper)

F=Failing: (SLR Interpretation: Totally unreliable, resistant to criticism, no apparent comprehension of what is going on in the research).

Do not assume that just because you sign in at the barn for the required numbers of hours with no other obvious effort or contribution that you will get an A!

Three hours per credit taken (minus the one hour of group discussion) should be scheduled helping both in the barn and lab per week. The Group meeting IS MANDATORY-if a student misses more than one without a valid excuse, they will risk having their course grade reduced. Same for the barn hours they sign up for-if late or “no show” for more than a few times without valid excuse, the course grade may reflect this deficit. If you can only put in bare minimum hours make sure they count (ie: You put in good effort while there) PLUS plan on working harder on the paper. If you put in extra barn/lab hours they can be translated to a higher number of credits (36 hours per credit) or PERHAPS a higher grade if you are marginal in some areas (Though I do NOT encourage you planning on this route!).

Barn/lab hours: Sign in on the check sheet when you get to the barn and sign out when you leave with the time! Just putting down “1 hr” is NOT sufficient.

If I see you are just hanging around in the aisle talking about matters unrelated to the program I will not give you credit for the time spent-when at the barn you should be focussed on working with the horses, not socializing!

Important life lesson: if you are assigned or agree to a task that you do not know how to accomplish, IMMEDIATELY ask for CLARIFICATION OR INSTRUCTIONS! Do not just “wing it” half-heartedly with poor results that are recognized only after the fact or, worse, avoid doing it at all.

Nothing is more irritating than having people not do things they said they will do and then, ONLY when confronted with the deficit or receiving a poor grade, whine that “they did not understand the assignment” or, for some reason, that they only reveal when confronted, could not do it. This attitude will get you nowhere in the real world, and especially vet school or other professional endeavors. If in doubt, ask the person who assigned you the duty as soon as possible for clarification. If you realize you cannot complete something that needs to be accomplished let your supervisor know ASAP so the task can be re-assigned! Most of the tasks assigned in this course are NOT just things to keep you busy-THEY ARE ESSENTIAL to the well being of the animals and continuation of the program!

BARN SAFETY:

1. NEVER WORK WITH THE HORSES IF THERE IS NO ONE ELSE AROUND!

2. If there is a problem with the horses and I am not there, you can try my cell phone. I rarely have it on me but do check it fairly frequently. Call my office or home as well as the cell phone listed on the contact sheets. If there is a problem with fencing, etc or a real emergency contact JOANNA POWELL or CLINT BURGHER-if you cannot reach them, try Anthony. All contact info is on the contact sheets. 

3. If someone is injured in the barn DO NOT TAKE THEM TO THE HOSPITAL YOURSELF. Call 6911 for an ambulance. Try to stay calm and if they are in a stall with a horse remove either the person or the horse, which ever seems to be the safest!

4. DO NOT BRING FRIENDS/FAMILY TO THE BARN WITHOUT DR. RALSTON’S EXPRESS PERMISSION AND DO NOT LET THEM GO OUT IN THE PADDOCKS OR INTO THE STALLS IF SHE IS NOT THERE.

5. NEVER wear shorts, sandals or open toed shoes in the barn.

6. NO CELL PHONES IN THE BARN EXCEPT IN THE OFFICE.

RESEARCH PAPER: This can be a review of literature on a topic related to our research OR an evaluation of actual data collected (ie: Growth patterns, behavior  responses, etc). This will be due on Friday, December 17, 2010.
For the review you would want to have:

  1. Introduction: Includes WHAT the question is, WHY it is important and  general background information.
  2. Comparison of data on the topic from AT LEAST 4 SCIENTIFIC (in a peer reviewed publication, NOT popular press or websites!) REFERENCES, what they found and if they do not agree, differences in techniques, etc that might explain discrepancies.
  3. Conclusions: what new insights do the data provide when looked at together? Future research directions?

For a research paper:

Introduction: Includes WHAT the question is you are trying to answer with the research, WHY it is important and background information (AT LEAST 4 SCIENTIFIC REFERENCES USED!), and your HYPOTHESIS and OBJECTIVES

  1. Materials and Methods: HOW you tested the hypothesis and met the objectives
  2. Statistics: What statistical tests you used to evaluate your data
  3. Results: What the data revealed
  4. Discussion: Your interpretation of the findings
I STRONGLY SUGGEST GIVING ME A DRAFT OF YOUR PAPER AT LEAST A WEEK BEFORE IT IS DUE TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT TRACK. I will be handing out previous papers written and have YOU critique them in the group meeting to give you a better idea what I am talking about.