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Grading reflects research engagement. No final exam. Instead what counts are your ReLogs, peer-reviews and revisions to your project proposal.

This course was designed to give you a taste for what is important in the life of researchers. So the midterm and final exams were abandoned.

Instead, your grades will be based on how well you continually engage in the research that is part of this course from week one up to the end. There are three big categories of what you do:

  • Write or re-write a ReLog entry each week.
  • Weekly peer-reviewing.
  • Group project: Writing a grant application that is similar to real ones.
Everything you write as part of this course you will do on the course website, where you will get a login. The entries you create on the course website are the basis for your grades.
You will do a lot of peer review and your work will be peer reviewed by other fellow students. Peer reviewer will assess the quality of the work and are asked to point out all the flaws they can see in some aspects of your work (but stay professional). These assessments are part of the learning experience (both for you and the reviewers) and are not your grades, but rather indicate how your fellow students see your work. The instructor may or may not agree. You will get your grades from the instructor independently. If you have questions, please ask the instructor.

The final grade for the course will be given by the instructor based on your overall performance as researcher in the role of author, collaborator and reviewer.

Evaluation criteria for peer review

Peer review evaluates these categories as appropriate:

  1. Quality of questions asked
  2. Importance of conclusions
  3. Innovative ideas
  4. Links to existing research literature 
  5. Quality of biological models, data and methods 
  6. Quality of technical, computational, statistical and math aspects 
  7. Clarity and elegance of writing 
  8. Educational quality 
  9. Broader impact 


ReLog: 30% total

All weeks are peer-reviewed; you can miss at most two ReLogs without risking a reduction of points proportional to the fraction of ReLogs you did not write. You pick a category for each ReLog entry, which will be evaluated according to that category. If you write >2 posts per week, specify which one should be reviewed or write a brief introduction for reviewers, highlighting what is what. You are expected to

write or rewrite at least 500 words each week.

You can write more (no penalty, if written well and original). However, if you write less, then all points you get from this post will be scaled down proportionally by how much you wrote. E.g. a 250-word ReLog, with perfect presentation, can only count as half. The main points about the ReLog are:

  • 30% Originality of ideas and how well you build bridges to other disciplines.
  • 40% Expertise, technical quality of the content and how well you learn to connect to other disciplines.
  • 30% Presentation and writing quality.

You will be asked to re-write each re-log after you have received peer review feedback. The same qualities will be evaluated, only this time, how much you have improved your ReLog over the first draft.

Peer review: 20%

Try hard to find the real problems in any content you review. Focus first on the areas highlighted by the Focused Feedback forms. You don't have to say more, but are welcome to do so. However, if your reviewing is restricted to “great job/bad job” or similar imprecise comments, you will get 0 points for peer reviewing and the author will have one opportunity less to learn something.

  • 10% appropriate brief summary of what the author tried to do.
  • 50% finding real major problems and suggesting approaches for fixing them where possible. (If you think there are none, think again; there usually are; start evaluating limitations/assumptions.)
  • 20% how well you edit down the authors text without removing any content.
  • 10% find minor problems (from poorly formatted bibliographies to minor jumps in logic and missing assessments of uncertainty with little impact on conclusions)
  • 10% professionalism and courteous tone.

Group work: Research proposal: 40%

  • 20% Continuous progress: Keep working on it early to avoid panic at the end.
  • 20% Final quality of the ultimate proposal. It doesn't count for that much, because you will have done the essential work before your final revisions: you wrote good ReLogs as a basis for exploring good questions, you wrote good drafts and have continually peer reviewed and integrated peer review. Building on this basis, it is not very hard to produce an excellent proposal.

Group collaboration: 10%

  • 2% Write-up of the initial plan of group work, detailing group strength and weaknesses 
  • 2% Write-up of final reflection on strength and weaknesses of collaboration 
  • 1% Written description of who did what for the research proposal 
  • 5% Group participation (evaluated by peers) 
    • 1% attendance of meetings
    • 1% participation in meetings
    • 1% pre-meeting preparation
    • 1% Ability to listen to ideas/concerns of others
    • 1% Ability to cooperate and/or find middle ground


Final grading

To determine your final grade:

    • I will check if you submitted all ReLogs, peer reviews, project drafts and revisions on time and with at least the requested word count.
    • I will look at the best samples of what you wrote to see the quality of your writing; you can help by making a "Best of" ReLog entry towards the end of the semester, ranking your best contributions; that does not mean I will ignore all others, but it will help me to not miss the work you are most proud of; if you do not produce such a ranking of ReLog entries, then you implicitly state that you consider all your writing of equal quality and that you do not care, which individual ReLog is assessed (Hint: it is very unlikely that all your writing is of such uniformity).
    • Similarly I will look at the best samples of your work as a peer reviewer. You can rank the quality of your reviews if you want as well (submit them to the designated folder). 
    • I will look at the group project and how I saw you contribute to the discussions in your group and in the course. If you fear for whatever reason that your contributions to the group project are not easily determined, you are welcome to detail your contributions in an email to me. I may ask the other members of your group to do the same (for their contributions).
    • Finally, I will combine these scores as specified to arrive at an integrated grade using the criteria above.



Make sure you cite all your sources, don't ever cheat by passing on as your own an idea you found somewhere else, and submit on time. The consequences of not doing that are below. 

  • Be original and do not plagiarize. You have enough ideas within you, you don’t need to steal them. Cite anything you see fit, but don't make it seem the words are yours if they are not. Don’t ever copy text or ideas without acknowledging the source! If you do that once you lose your points on the assignment. You do that twice, you get additional penalty points. Do that the third time and you leave me no choice than giving you 0 points (fail) for your work in this course.
  • Deliver your final research proposal sharp on time. Do not be one minute late. Grant agencies don’t want to hear your excuses, and will not make exceptions. If you are late your group looses all points from that proposal.
  • Submit all your assignments on time, else for each day you are late 1% of all available points in total will be deducted from the points you can earn.