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Evaluating science in the news
Learning outcomes
• Become aware of recent news stories involving biology.
• Be able to critically evaluate a news story in order to determine its scientific merits.
Find your news article
The purpose of this activity is to encourage you to pay attention to important biology news that you may encounter on TV, Radio, and the Internet. For this activity, you will be focusing only on the Internet as your news source. You can find many interesting and important biology headlines on the Internet, every day of the week. You are being asked to find one current news story within the field of biology that is hopefully of real interest to you.
If you are not sure where to begin, try going to some of the following online news sites:
• Science News Magazine
• Science Daily
• NPR science news
• Google science news
• Yahoo science news
Your article MUST be accessible via the Internet (you will give me the URL), MUST relate to biology (if it relates to living things in any way, it is ok; email your instructor if you are not sure), and MUST be current! The date of the article posting on the web must be no older than three days before the start of this class session (i.e. it cannot have posted more than three days before the availability for this discussion topic began). I want to see something that was posted on the web this week!
Answer the following questions in a computer document. Be sure to number your answers in the same format and order (#1-12) as listed below. Remember that your document must be in an acceptable format (e.g., .doc, .docx, .txt, .rtf, etc.; see syllabus for acceptable formats). After you have completed the entire activity, you will submit your answers in the assignment dropbox so that you can earn your points.
1. What is the title of your article? On what date (day/month/year) was it published online?
2. Why did you find this particular article interesting? In other words, what caught your attention, thus leading you to choose to share it?
3. In what way does your article relate to the field of biology? (Remember that your article must relate to biology)
4. What is the full URL of your web-based source? (copy the whole web address; I need to be able to visit your site)
5. In your own words, write a brief summary of what happened or was learned. In other words, what significant finding is being reported? (your answer must be at least five complete and meaningful sentences long, and MUST be in your own words; you will not get credit for sentences that you just copy/paste from the article!)
6. Who is the author of the research or the person(s) who made the discovery? Do you know whether or not they are from an educational institution, such as a university or college, or a state or government agency? If so, which one? Do you know anything about their credentials?
7. Is a scientific study presented? If so, has it been published in a scientific journal? Which one? Do they give you a link so that we may view the original journal article (primary source)?
8. What evidence is being presented to back up their findings? Any numbers and / or statistics given?
9. Do you trust their findings? Do the findings seem plausible?
10. Is this a positive or negative news source? In other words, is it a “good thing” or a “bad thing” being reported? Explain.
o If it is a good thing, explain how it could potentially add to your quality of life and / or that of others. Who benefits?
o If it is a bad thing, what if anything has been suggested to fix the situation or make things better? What is your opinion on what should be done?
11. Does what is being reported cause you any fear or distress? Explain.
12. Were you already aware of this news before reading the article, or was this something that you had not seen or heard of before?


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