CHEM 784/7840 - Foundations of Chemistry and Biochemistry Research Literature Review

Semester: Fall 2022

Professor: E. Meiering | | Campus: Waterloo


Students will prepare a written literature review. Incoming MSc students are strongly encouraged to take this required course within the first term of their program.

Your writing affects not only how much credit you receive for your work but also how much influence your work has. The quality of your writing influences decisions by others on whether to hire you, to fund your ideas, to publish your findings, or to accept your thesis! In your schooling, you have taken courses on reading and writing, and you will certainly draw on these because they provide you the foundation of your craft. However, scientific writing poses challenges that general writing courses do not cover.

Students will be given an introduction to scientific wriring and will learn how to use multiple resources to search and vet scientific literature relevant to their own research. Based on the pertinent literature, students will write a review paper in which they present and explain the scientific concepts, the up-to-date state of research, and the open questions that are relevant to their field, including reasons and methods for undertaking further research. Students will subject excerpts of their writing to peer review, will participate in peer review of others’ work, and will learn to improve their scientific writing through this iterative feedback process. Preparation of graphic content will be addressed similarly. This course has a hybrid delivery of in-person lectures, online assignments, and independent study that will evolve as new resources become available. The material of the review will be further developed, presented, and defended in the CHEM 794(0) MSc Research Seminar.

The objectives of CHEM 784(0) are to encourage students to learn to use scientific literature at an early stage of their program, to stimulate in-depth thinking about the basis of their thesis research, and to develop their peer network and communication skills.

CHEM 784(0) is a required one term course for all full-time graduate students who are enrolled for an MSc degree starting from Fall 2020; thesis students must complete the requirements for CHEM 784(0) within their first two terms in the program and are strongly encouraged to take this course in their first term. Master’s research paper students should complete this course after taking other graduate courses and prior to the research paper course. CHEM 784(0) is offered in Fall and Winter terms.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course students should be able to:

Learn to find, read, understand and communicate information from scientific literature
In depth thinking about the basis for thesis research
Develop peer network and oral and written communication skills


Title / Name Notes / Comments Required
Resources See Materials on UW CHEM 784(0) LEARN website. Yes
Required Materials Each student must have access to a portable device (laptop, tablet, etc.), equipped with Office 365 Microsoft Word. This device must be able to access the internet and must allow the student to attend the lectures remotely, using MS Teams. Yes

How to Succeed: 

– Participate in course activities

– Engage in discovering, learning about, and defining your proposed research

– Timely completion of all course elements


Assignments Total: 16%
Assignment 1 Mini Literature Search Summary Proposed due date: Fri Sept 23 4%
Assignment 2a Review Section Proposed due date: Tues Oct 4
Assignment 2b Revised and Expanded Review Section Proposed due date: Mon Oct 24 4%
Assignment 3 Outstanding Questions/Proposed Research Proposed due date: Mon Nov 7 4%
Assignment 4 Review Abstract Proposed due date: Mon Nov 21 4%
Peer Review Total: 18%
Peer Review of Assignment 1 Proposed due date: Tues Sept 27 4%
Peer Review of Assignment 2a Proposed due date: Fri Oct 7 4%
Peer Review of Assignment 2b Proposed due date: Thurs Oct 27
Peer Review of Assignment 3 Proposed due date: Thurs Nov 10
Student Reflection on Peer Review of Assignment 1 Proposed due date: Fri Sept 30 0.5%
Student Reflection on Peer Review of Assignment 2a Proposed due date: Thurs Oct 20 0.5%
Student Reflection on Peer Review of Assignment 2b Proposed due date: Thurs Nov 3 0.5%
Student Reflection on Peer Review of Assignment 3 Proposed due date: Thurs Nov 17 0.5%
Student Assessments of Peer Reviewing Proposed due date: Mon Nov 28 8%
Supervisory Committee Membership Forms Proposed due date: Fri Nov 4
Written Review Paper (as Final Exam) Due date: Fri Dec 9 66%


Notice of Recording

Activities for this course may involve recording, in partial fulfillment of the course learning outcomes.  You will receive notification of recording via at least one of the following mechanisms: within the Learning Management System (LEARN), a message from your course instructor, course syllabus/website, or other means. Some technologies may also provide a recording indicator. Images, audio, text/chat messaging that have been recorded may be used and/or made available by the University to the instructor and students enrolled in CHEM 784(0) for the purpose of materials review to achieve course objectives. Recordings will be managed according to the University records classification scheme, WatClass, and will be securely destroyed when no longer needed by the University. Your personal information is protected in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, as well as University policies and guidelines and may be subject to disclosure where required by law.

The University will use reasonable means to protect the security and confidentiality of the recorded information, but cannot provide a guarantee of such due to factors beyond the University’s control, such as recordings being forwarded, copied, intercepted, circulated, disclosed, or stored without the University’s knowledge or permission or the introduction of malware into computer system which could potentially damage or disrupt the computer, networks, and security settings. The University is not responsible for connectivity/technical difficulties or loss of data associated with your hardware, software or Internet connection.

By engaging in course activities that involve recording, you are consenting to the use of your appearance, image, text/chat messaging, and voice and/or likeness in the manner and under the conditions specified herein. (In the case of a live stream event, if you choose not to have your image or audio recorded, you may disable the audio and video functionality. Instructions to participate using a pseudonym instead of your real name are included where the feature exists; however, you must disclose the pseudonym to your instructor in advance in order to facilitate class participation.) If you choose not to be recorded, this notice serves as confirmation of your understanding that you may view the recording later and ask questions to the instructor and classmates outside of recorded sessions. Instructions may be provided in the assignment, in this document or elsewhere.

You are not permitted to disclose the link to/URL of an event or an event session recording or copies of recording to anyone, for any reason. Recordings are available only to authorized individuals who have been directly provided the above instructions/link for their use. Recordings for personal use, required to facilitate your learning and preparation of personal course/lecture notes, should not be shared with others without the permission of the instructor or event coordinator. Review the University’s guidelines for faculty, staff and students entering relationships with external organizations offering access to course materials for more information on your obligations with respect to keeping copies of course materials. For more information about accessibility, connect with AccessAbility Services.


  • Tue: 7:00 pm - 9:20 pm in C2 361

Office Hours

[email protected] (please email through LEARN site, or (preferably) use Teams chat) Office: ESC 228 Office Hours: Scheduled upon request