Stage 2: Finding the Media Article
You must find an article from an acceptable newspaper or news magazine or other popular media news
source that specifically describes the contents of a published scientific research experiment (of a physical,
not theoretical, nature) on any of the appropriate research topics (see page 1). For help with ideas about
appropriate key words to use when searching the media sources, look to the general topics listed in the ass.
Or, alternatively, you can also simply browse the most recent news stories posted at these media news
sources, in the allowed date range, to find one on a suitable topic.
The following are some examples of acceptable media sources for this project:
Science Daily, Science News Online, Astronomy Magazine, Universe Today, Portal to the Universe,
Science Centric, Science/AAAS, Nature, CBC News: Technology & Science, Scientific American,
Popular Science, National Geographic News, Science and Technology for Canadians, Macleans
Magazine, The Toronto Star, Globe and Mail; others
Note that web blogs, wikis, and other individually-run websites are NOT acceptable forms of media
reporting for this project.
Media articles must be at least 500 words in length (longer is better), and should focus on one primary
original research experiment rather than discussing the results of many different experiments (and/or
If you need help with determining the suitability of a particular media article, do NOT post the specific
article title and/or web address in the Moodle forum. Instead, send an email (including your full name in it,
as well as he URL to the actual article itself) to the following address: email@example.com
(Make sure to keep a copy of your email for yourself as back up.) Our course Teaching Assistant will
respond to your question on media article topic suitability within about 2 days. (For all other questions about
the project, post your general questions in the public Research Project discussion forum in Moodle, or
private question by email to firstname.lastname@example.org).
The York library system allows you to search many newspapers and magazines online from
its home page: https://www.library.yorku.ca/
Particularly helpful database to use in this research is the General Science Abstracts (via
Wilson); search for its title on the York Library homepage
The Steacie Science and Engineering Library is a whole library at York dedicated to science!
(It even has real-life librarians who can help you!)
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Consult the following useful website from the York Library on how to find articles:
You can easily make electronic copies of web pages by printing them to a .pdf file, with a
virtual pdf printer. There are many free programs available that can do this, such as the
PrintFriendly web-based service: www.printfriendly.com
Stage 3: Finding the Scholarly Article
Having found the media article, you must now find the original (primary) scholarly article in which this
research was first reported. The media article itself should mention the names of the researchers (who may
or may not be the authors of the actual media article itself), the title of their original research article (as
published in the scholarly journal), and where it was originally published. Again, use the searching facilities
at the library to locate and access this original publication. Note that as a York University student, your
library privileges include subscription to an enormous database of journals that normally require a
subscription fee. (If you need help with accessing paid-subscription journals with your York U. account,
contact a librarian.) If you happened to choose an article from a journal to which York does not have a
subscription, then you should look for a new article that is covered by a subscription, instead.
Stage 4: Your Report: Comparing the Science in Media and Scholarly Articles
After reading both the media and the scholarly article, you will now compare them in your own written
report. To be complete, your report must address all of the following questions.
1. Complete the following identifier table:
Media Article Research Article
Title of Article
Source of Article
Date of Publication
Was the research done by
the author of the article?
Where are the Authors
from (if information is
Give the name and
location of their place of
Note: the contents of this table do NOT count toward the final word/page count limit on your report.
2. Provide a prcis (short summary) of each article in your own words. A good way to make sure you write
the prcis in your own words is to read the article a few times until you feel you understand its content as
much as possible, and then put the article away and write the prcis without looking at the article. Once
you have written the prcis, reread it and the article together to make sure you have not missed any
important points. If your words seem much simpler than those of the article, so much the better!
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3. Describe the structure or format of the article how is the information presented to the reader? Is the
article divided up into sections, and if so what are they? (This applies to both media and scholarly
4. For the media article, how are the experimental results presented? (For example, is it just a general
written description, are actual numbers reported, are there tables, graphs, statistics?)
5. Compare the general conclusions of the media article with the general conclusions of the research paper.
Do they differ in any way, and if so, how?
6. Does either of the articles criticize the data, criticize the conclusions, provide alternate hypotheses or
conclusions to explain the data? If so provide details.
7. Does one article provide criticism or alternate viewpoints that the other article fails to mention? If so,
what are they? (For example, do the authors of the research article mention limitations of their research
and conclusions that are left out of the media article?)
8. Does the title of the media article accurately reflect the content of both the media article and the research
article? If not, provide details.
9. Has this exercise given you any insights into how scientific research is done and reported, or into how
the media covers such research?
Format and Expectations of the Report
This is NOT AN ESSAY; therefore you do not need to have a thesis, or try to prove or disprove
any argument(s). Instead, you are asked to report on the differences between science research as
presented in popular media versus scholarly journals. Your report can simply answer each of the
numbered items as they are presented above, in a numbered sequence. Do NOT include the text of
the questions in your report; simply label each answer with the corresponding question number only.
The report should be 1,200 to 1,500 words, of standard font 12 text.
1 margins on all sides should be used.
There is no particular preferred style of citation that has to be used, as long as your style is consistent.
You will use only 2 sources in your report, so citation of them should be quite straightforward.
Quoting of the articles themselves should be kept to a minimum, and is NOT to be used as content
substitute of your report (even if it is cited). Your report should consist mostly of your own writing.
The report should be written with proper English grammar; have your report proofread by someone
else who is not in your class (such as your family or friends), especially if English is not your first
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