Physiology in the News: An evaluation of science reporting
- To become more familiar with the physiology studies (including genetics, biochemistry, medicine, etc.) currently reported daily in popular newspapers.
- To practice analyzing science as it is presented in newspapers and presenting this information to peers.
Sources: Newspapers (for example: USA Today, San Diego Union-Tribune, New York Times) that are dated within one year of the first day of this term. On-line versions of newspapers are also acceptable. Assignments using sources other than newspapers will not be accepted. You are looking for an article addressing a scientific experiment.
The following sources are NOT acceptable: Scientific American, Nature, National Geographic, on-line scientific journals, etc. These are excellent publications, but they do not cover current events for the general public or the information they do present is usually much more detailed than desired for this assignments.
You are looking for a newspaper article addressing a scientific experiment. Remember this is a physiology course (please do not use articles on volcanoes, astronomy, etc. unless they relate to biology). If you have questions, please discuss it with your instructor.
Method: Summarize, and respond to, a newspaper article on a scientific experiment focused on some aspect of physiology. The article should report on a new scientific report or summary. The article should be less than one year old and provided to instructor when the report is submitted. A URL may be substituted for the newspaper clipping. You may earn a maximum of 25 points for this writing assignment. The points are assigned as follows:
Grammar and Style: (5 points)
You should demonstrate effective and appropriate writing. Does each paragraph have a topic sentence? Is the style flowing and easily read? Is it obvious you did not review your writing before submitting it? Do nouns and verbs agree? Are spelling error kept a minimum?
Format: Your report should be 1-3 single spaced typed pages. All writing assignments will be in the following format: Heading (see below), summary, background, and evaluation.
- Heading: Use the following format (2 points):
Line 1: Title of article
Line 2: Author(s)
Line 3: Source (name of newspaper or URL)
Line 4: Date of publication, section, page number, or date you visited the web site.
Line 5: Your name.
- Summarize the article (5 points): Summarize the content of the article in the first few paragraphs. Summarize refers not to copying quotes from the article, but rather highlighting the main points in your own words. You should find and concentrate on the major concepts or topics in the article.
- Provide background and expand on the information in your article (5 points). Using your text and lab manual, elaborate on the biology topics you addressed in the summary. In addition to any information you find about the articles major topics.The scientific method must be included in your elaborations. For this assignment, reference your text or manual by indicating the authors and page where you found the information eg: If you found information in the text on page 25, you would indicate that by (Silverthorn,, 25).
- Evaluate the science of the article. (10 points) Evaluation does not mean expressing your personal feelings about the article. It does mean judging the how the science is reported. Some of the questions you may ask yourself as you write this section include: Is the hypothesis easily determined from the article? Is it clear how the new scientific information was collected and analyzed? Are possible confounding factors identified? The reporter may not use the term hypothesis dependent or independent variable, but can you identify them from the article? Did the article indicate alternative views or identify where you could find the original source?