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SA 3124 - Animal Behavior (Fortier)


Presentation Proposal

During lab, the Library will discuss appropriate methods for searching the online databases at DelVal. You must identify two distinct hypotheses and find a minimum of 3 scholarly references. Your instructor will explain the difference between scholarly and non-scholarly works.

After completing your search, submit this form listing all information below. You may NOT use websites!  Scholarly journals only.


During the last weeks of laboratory you will give a 20 minute oral presentation to your colleagues. Your presentation is a chance to explore a behavioral topic in more detail. We want to turn to scholarly scientific articles to learn what is known about the subject. Scientific journals will provide the most reliable, up-to-date information on a subject. These journals rely on a process known as peer review. Before publication, the work of every author will be reviewed by at least two other scientists to determine whether it should be printed. Few other fields offer the level of self-policing that is commonplace in science.

How can you tell whether a journal really consists of original, scholarly research? If the author is reporting on someone else’s work, it is not original research. Journals such as Animal Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Ecology, and Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology contain original research. Discover, Science News, Life, National Geographic, and Boy’s Life do not. When in doubt, consult your instructor; stick with Google Scholar to simplify your life. You should use 3 or more references (all must be appropriate literature) and they may not all be from the same author. You must look at the writings of more than one individual to get a balanced view of the subject.

Your presentation must be in Powerpoint and should consist of the following sections:


This section should explain why a topic is interesting or relevant to the audience (your colleagues). Too often, talks begin with the words "For our presentation, we chose to study x behavior . . . .". Try to make the material relevant to your audience from the outset – create a hook. Why is this subject of interest? Define any terms that may be unfamiliar and CLEARLY EXPLAIN THE ALTERNATE HYPOTHESES.

Discussion (Body):

Never use the words "trust me" during a presentation. Instead, back up your statements with the appropriate data - show the class the graphs, figures, etc. from the papers that you’ve read through. Don’t overwhelm the audience with countless graphs. Instead, carefully review a limited number of findings in more detail (each figure should have the reference included as a footnote). Explain how various ideas/hypotheses are affected by these findings. Here’s a quick checklist for each paper presented:

What hypothesis did they test?

What were the predictions?

How did they test them?

What were the results?

Did they support the hypothesis?

Previously Used Topics

Sample Presentation Topics

Note: You may not use these topics from the past.

Is horn quality in horned beetles an honest signal of male quality?

Why do fish aggregate around floating objects?

Does the “threat reduction hypothesis” explain spotted bowerbird behavior?

Is territory size determined by prey availability in anurans?

Why do male beetles guard their mates after copulating?

Does the “challenge hypothesis” explain androgen levels in mating cichlids?

Are begging signals from bird nestlings honest?

How do amphibian larvae distinguish kin from non-kin?

Why do female beetles have refractory periods after mating?

Why don’t subordinate passerines cheat and show the colors of dominant birds?

Is territory size driven by food availability in marine reef fish?

Why did viviparity evolve in reptiles?

Why do female tree swallows mate with multiple males?

Does the “selfish herd” hypothesis explain group formation in colonial spiders?

Why do some cichlids breed cooperatively?

Is phenotypic plasticity in anuran larvae driven by predation risk?

Is school size in small fish driven by the “group vigilance hypothesis”?

Does the “immunocompetence handicap hypothesis” explain male mating behavior in sparrows?

Why do bumblebees sometimes leave nectar behind in flowers?

Can the “challenge hypothesis” explain androgen levels in male reptiles?

Finding Research

Sources for Scientific Articles

Choose scientific original research articles containing data collection.*  Avoid "Review" articles.
You must choose 4 scientific original research articles containing data collection.

Start with Google Scholar. It searches most of the scientific literature and will direct you to journals that the library has access to. Look for the FullText@DelVal links to the right of the citations. PDFs to the right will usually open as well. Scholar will link you over to the scientific literature in the following library databases:

Science Direct includes full text of the journal Animal Behaviour (Delval has online access back to 1993 --microfiche back to 1979.)

Interlibrary Loan

If a book or article you want is not available, use Interlibrary Loan (ILL). The Library can order books and articles from other libraries. This process takes few days but is completely free for DelVal students, faculty, and staff.

Before you submit an ILL, check Google Scholar or Discovery to see if we have immediate access or if it is freely available online.

Identifying Peer Reviewed Literature

Research Articles

Research articles are also often known as scientific or peer reviewed articles. If the article is NOT written by the person or group who did the research, it is NOT a peer-reviewed or scientific article. Research articles are important for knowing what new discoveries have been made. This is why it is important to use recent articles, since they will be the first things published on a new scientific development. 

Here's a quick overview of how to identify these journal articles:

  • written by the scientist(s) who actually did the research
  • follows a specific format 
    • abstract
    • introduction
    • materials & methods
    • results
    • conclusions
    • references 
  • assumes reader already knows background information about the topic has been evaluated by experts (peer-reviewed) 
  • Tip:  Look for a statement about when the article was accepted for publication. Most peer-reviewed articles will include one.
Example of a Research Article


Checklist for Scientific or Peer-Reviewed Article

  Did the author(s) of the article do the actual research?
  Can you find a statement about when the article was accepted for publication?
  Is there a sizable list of references?
  Do the authors assume you are familiar with their topic?
  Is it challenging to read?

If you have answered "yes" to these five questions you have probably located a scientific article.

Setting up RefWorks


RefWorks is a new way to collect, manage, and organize research.  You can read, annotate, organize, and cite your research as well as collaborate by sharing collections.

From simple bibliographies to papers formatted with in-text citations or footnotes, RefWorks handles it all. ​To learn more about RefWorks, use our RefWorks research guide.

To create a RefWorks account:

  1. Go to the link below and click Use login from my institution
  2. Fill in your information, making sure to use your DelVal email address.  
  3. Go to your inbox and click the email link to complete the activation process. 

Already have an account? Just go to the link below and click "Log In"

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