You are to find a newspaper or mainstream news magazine article that reports some scientific finding of interest to you.
If you can, track down the primary source (for extra credit) for the article and write a synopsis of the study including information on the kind of study performed, the scientific protocol, general applicability, and limitations of the study, and a summary of the findings. If you find and submit the original article or abstract, you will receive extra credit.
Finding the Article:
Search the websites for the major news outlets (CNN, NYTimes, USAToday, Newsweek, etc.) and find an article that reports on a scientific study or statistical analysis on a topic you are interested in. Use keywords such as “study” and “published” to find appropriate articles. Scientific and statistical studies in health, public policy and lifestyle issues
appear in all sections of the news, so think broadly about possible topics. Do not choose highly technical studies (such as the finding of a new gene) or opinion polls. Highly technical studies tend to be difficult to interpret.
Finding the Study:
Prior to the date marked on the syllabus, scan the news article you have found and attempt to find the research study
upon which it is based. Remember that finding the actual study or abstract is extra credit! Look for journal names and the name of the lead author. Use the library databases to see if MCC has access to the journal and whether the date of your news article is also available for the journal. Many medical journals are only available after a year, so if your news article is relatively new you should speak to a librarian about whether you will be able to get the journal article in time. If not, choose another news article. If you find the study, scan the full document and submit it to me, you will receive extra credit.
At other times the study was presented at a conference. If that happened recently you have two options; email the author of the study and request a copy of the conference paper or find another news article. Using the word “published” in your search should weed most of these articles out.
Many valid studies are conducted by governmental agencies and not specifically published in scientific journals. If your study is published by a government agency check the agency web site for access to the study. Note, these studies tend to be longer and more complicated. It is not necessary for you to read technical appendices for these studies, but they may still be quite long.
1. Source information:
a.Source of newspaper article: wire-service, in-depth article, feature story, etc.
b. Kind of report: medical/technical journal, governmental study, etc.
2. Summary of the news article you found, including what it says the research study found.
3. Summary of the research question from the study
a.What questions are the researchers trying to answer?
b. What is the target population of this study? Whom will the authors draw conclusions about?
c.Who are the subjects of the study?
d. Are the subjects representative of the target population? Why/why not?
4. The independent and dependent variable(s) of the study
5. A summary of the conclusion of the study
a.What did the researcher find?
b.Is the summary a logical conclusion to their research? Is it a valid conclusion?
c.Who will use these results and what will they do with them?
6.What statistical analyses were used to draw these conclusions?
7. Is this a good study? What are its strengths and weaknesses?
8. IF APPLICABLE: How does the newspaper article differ from the journal article? In what ways, if any, does the newspaper article misrepresent the journal article?
9. IF APPLICABLE: How accurately does the newspaper article title reflect the findings of the study?
10. If there were any graphs or figures in the newspaper article, comment on their useful Do you think additional graphs or figures in the article would be helpful? If so, what kind?