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CHEM 141: Article Analysis

CHEMISTRY 141 PROJECT – Winter 2017: How Scientific Research is Presented to Nonscientists


“How Scientific Research is Presented to Nonscientists:  An Exploration of the Scientific Method and Critical Thinking”

Proposal Due: 2/3/2017

Paper Due:  2/17/2017



Name:  _____________________________________



Title of Media Article:  ____________________________________________________

(must report original research)


Media Source:  _______________________________________________

(Note that this should be a well-recognized mainstream news source such as CNN, Fox, USA Today, etc., NOT a science news source.)



Lead Researcher’s Name/Affiliation:  ________________________________________



Publication Name:  _______________________________________________________

(must be a peer-reviewed scientific journal)







CHEMISTRY 141 PROJECT – Winter 2017

How Scientific Research is Presented to Nonscientists:  An Exploration of the Scientific Method and Critical Thinking

Paper Due:  2/17/2017


You will find an article from a mainstream news source that reports scientific research (referred to as the media article).  This can be an online article, as long as you can supply a printed copy of it to turn in with your paper.  From the information given in this article, you will track down the scientific research article on which the media report is based (the media article should give the name of the lead scientist or researcher, the university or institution he or she is affiliated with, as well as the name of the scientific journal in which the research is published).  We will have a session in the OC Library on Friday February 3rd, where you will learn to search the library’s scientific database of peer-reviewed scientific journals, find the scientific research article, and print it up FOR FREE!!!


After reading and analyzing both articles, you will write a short paper (3 to 4 pages) that conveys the results of your analysis.  A copy of BOTH articles must be attached to your paper.

The thesis of your paper will be your judgment of how well the media article presented the scientific research reported in the research article, as well as a judgment of how well the researchers followed the scientific method.  The title of your paper will be in the following format:

How Scientific Research is Presented to Nonscientists - An Exploration of the Scientific Method and Critical Thinking: “Title of Media Article” vs. “Title of Scientific Article”


Here are some questions to guide you in your analysis of the two articles:


Analysis of the Media article:


1.  What information about the scientific research can be inferred by reading the headline of the news story?   What effect is the journalist trying to have on potential readers?


2.  What questions arise about the methodology and conclusions of the experiment when analyzing the headlines?  Are these questions answered in the article?


3.  Can you determine the purpose of the research outlined in the news article?


4.  How easy was it to track down the research article from the information given by the journalist?


5.  What is your assessment of the validity of the information in the media article?


6.  Do you think the journalist read and analyzed the research article thoroughly?


Analysis of  the Research Article:


1.  How is the title of the research article different from the headline of the news story?  What are some possible reasons for the difference?  What are some other distinctive differences between the news article and the research article?  What are the reasons for these differences?


2.  What was the hypothesis of the researchers? (Note that the hypothesis is usually implied and not explicitly stated, so you may have to infer the hypothesis by what they were trying to find out.) What methods did the researchers use to find out if the hypothesis was valid?  What were the results of the study?  What conclusions were drawn from the study?  How much credibility do you give to the results of the study?  Why?


3.  Do the researchers discuss any limitations to their methods, data, or results?  Can you think of any limitations or shortcomings that are not addressed?


4.  How does this research illustrate the scientific method?  Look for specific examples (Did the authors look through the scientific literature to find out what others had done? Did they carefully design a protocol to test their hypothesis?  Did they carefully analyze their results? And so on.)  Also, how does the scientific article comply with the conventions of scientific publications? (Is there an Abstract? A Methods & Materials section? A Results section? A Discussion section? A list of References at the end? And so on.)


8.  What is your assessment of the validity of the information presented by the researchers?


Side-by-Side Analysis:


1.  How good a job did the journalist do in accurately presenting the research results?  The answer to this question is the thesis for your paper, which must be supported by examples from both articles.


2.  What details did the media article leave out?  Why do you think the author chose to leave certain information out?  Give examples.  (Please note that a media article cannot be expected to contain every single bit of information – journalists have limited space for their articles.  It is not a valid criticism of a journalist that he or she left out a lot of information – it is your job to decide if the information left out was crucial or not to accurately describe the research and results.)



The purpose of these guidelines is to help you construct a well-organized paper consisting of (1) an introductory paragraph where you introduce both articles and their authors, state your thesis and provide a brief overview of the results of your analysis; (2) a paragraph in which you analyze the media article; (3) a paragraph in which you analyze the research article; (4) a paragraph in which you do a side-by-side analysis of the two articles; and (5) a concluding paragraph in which you summarize your findings.




Here’s another guide to writing your paper:


Reader’s thoughts:                            Writer’s Response:

1.  What’s your point?                        1.  Introduction

2.  Prove it to me!                               2.  Supporting details, examples, illustrations, etc.

3.  So what?                                        3.  Conclusion



CHEMISTRY 141- Winter 2017

Grading Rubric for Analysis of Media & Research Article – 100 Points

Requirements: Double-spaced, size 11 font, this rubric & a copy of each article attached. 


20 Points

15 Points


0 - 5 Points

Choice & analysis of Media article

Your article relates the results of a scientific study and you are able to effectively analyze the intent of the journalist/author and evaluate the quality of information presented and assess its validity.

Your article satisfies the criteria for the assignment and the analysis is adequate (shows some evidence of critical thinking) but lacks supporting details.  Critical thinking is discussed to some extent.

Your article satisfies the criteria for the assignment but the analysis lacks depth and detail (lacks evidence of critical thinking).  More summary than analysis.

Your article does not relate the results of a scientific study.

Your analysis is limited to superficial aspects and there is no evidence or discussion of critical thinking.

analysis of research article

You are able to understand the article thoroughly and to discuss the researchers’ hypothesis & methods; analyze the conclusions & evaluate their credibility; describe specifically how the research illustrates the scientific method; go beyond suggested topics.

Your discussion shows an adequate understanding of the article.  You show a partial understanding of the scientific method and how it was applied by the researchers.

Your discussion shows only a slight understanding of the article.  You show an incomplete grasp of the scientific method utilized.  Article is summarized, not analyzed.

Your discussion shows an inadequate understanding of the article. There is no discussion of the scientific method.

side-by-side analysis of both articles

You are able to see the relationship between the two articles and use critical thinking skills to analyze & evaluate that relationship.  You discuss discrepancies, address all suggested questions, and include other interesting insights in your analysis.  You are able to compare and contrast the intentions of both the media & research author.

Your discussion shows an ability to critically evaluate some aspects of the relationship between the two articles.  Analysis is somewhat short, with only a few corroborating examples.

Your discussion shows some critical thinking skills, but there is very little side-by-side analysis or comparison.  Your thesis is not corroborated or does not withstand scrutiny.

Your discussion lacks depth and shows very little evidence of critical thinking.

organization of paper


Your paper is well organized, & topics flow in logical, well-thought- out sequence; thesis is clearly set out at the beginning & well supported.

Your paper is fairly well organized, and topics flow fairly well.  Your thesis is only somewhat corroborated.

Your paper disjointed, with no connection between topics.  Your thesis is only implied, with no examples.

Your paper lacks organization and your thesis is never made clear.



10 Points

8 Points

6 Points

0 - 4 Points

Paragraph Construction and Voice

There is a clear introduction & a good conclusion; all paragraphs contain introductory sentence, explanations or details, & concluding sentences.  Analysis is in your own words (or voice).

Most paragraphs are well constructed.  Parts of the analysis sound like a rundown of answers to questions suggested in the guidelines.

A few paragraphs are not well constructed (very short or very long).  Most of the summary sounds like a list of answers to a list of questions.

Paragraph construction is poor throughout the summary and it has no voice.


There are clear, complete sentences throughout with no grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors.  Requirements for the paper are followed.

Fair sentence construction, some awkward phrasing or choice of words & only 1 or 2 other errors.

There are sentence fragments or several confusing sentences; 3 or more grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors.

Errors, awkward phrasing, etc., are very distracting to the reader.