Biology Article Review Assignment

Contemporary Biology Article Assignment
Due Tuesday June 9, 2015
The science of biology is a dynamic, ever-changing field. Many scientists earn a living by doing research:
they make observations, carry out experiments, try to figure out what their new information means, and use it to
ask new questions about what we still don’t know. As a result, people are making new discoveries all the time,
adding to our knowledge, overturning old theories and tossing out ‘facts’ when new information shows them to be
Information gathered by researchers is said by some people to be value-free. That is, by itself, it simply
describes or characterizes biological phenomena, which is neither good nor bad, moral nor immoral. Yet, the
results of biological research often have an impact on our daily lives, even if the original goal was ‘pure’ science or
curiosity about the living world. The new (and old) information can be used to make important decisions that
have far-reaching effects—whether it is better to open up a forest to economic development, for example, or to
continue protecting it to keep species from extinction. Scientific discoveries are also used to develop new
products and technologies which themselves can lead to unforeseen problems, such as the rise of antibioticresistant bacteria, or insecticide-resistant agricultural pests. It is not so much the finding of scientific research but
the ways in which those findings are used that create social, political, and moral dilemmas
Another and perhaps more pressing aspect of contemporary biology is our potential as humans to affect
the conditions on our planet. With the great rise in human population size, we are producing global changes that
are already affecting the existence of other species and will almost certainly affect our own ability to survive.
Awareness and understanding of the biological principles at work here are critical, for our growing impact on the
Earth will require us to make decisions about the fate of the global bio-system within our lifetimes.
As a well-educated student of biology, you should be able to catch the excitement of new research
developments and anticipate how new findings in biology can affect your life—perhaps influencing a medical
decision that you have to make, the food you eat, or the air you breathe. To these ends, this exercise requires you
to read the news, find resources on contemporary research, and talk and write about what you learn.
The main point of this exercise is to increase your awareness of biological science as a vital and changing
discipline. It will also help you to develop skills for thinking and talking about what you read. You will find one
contemporary article dealing with the biological discipline. Make sure it is from a respectable source, you can check
with me if you are unsure about the source or content.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------(Please cut off this bottom portion and attach it to your report)
Grading Rubric
Your Score
Typed and double spaced
Article attached
Timeliness of article
Relevance to Biology
Clarity and completeness
(Points 1-3 on next page)
1. SUMMARY: An explanation of what the news story is about and why it is a ‘newsworthy’ topic. Why do people
need to know this? What did the researchers want to find out and what did they discover? How did they make
their discovery? How many people were involved? Was it necessary to devise new equipment, or develop a
new technique? What is the future of this research or findings? What did you learn from this article?
Remember this must be presented in your own words!!!
2. SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS: Was the article you read about ‘value-free’ research, or are there important social,
political, or economic aspects? For example, if it is about a new medicine or diagnostic test, how much does it
cost? Who will (or should) have access to it? Who will decide these things? Try to imagine how this new
information might affect people you know.
3. QUALITY: Comment on how well you think the subject was presented and why you liked or didn’t like the
article, or the information it contained. Be opinionated. Did the article seem objective or biased? Did the
author rely on just one source of information, or several? How reliable or authoritative were the reporter’s
sources? Who else might the reporter have interviewed? What else would you have wanted to know?
4. A COPY OF THE ARTICLE: If you have bought your own copy of the newspaper or magazine, please cut out the
article and hand it in (or hand in the entire magazine.) If you read the article in a library, please hand in a copy
of the article and cover of the magazine or newspaper. The articles may or may not be returned. The copy
should include:
a. Name of the newspaper or magazine or other source
b. Date of publication
c. Page numbers
d. Author’s name if it appears on the article; news source it is from one of the wire services (AP, Reuters,
N.Y. Times, etc.)
You may also find articles on the internet. You should be able to find the above information for internet articles
as well (page numbers being the exception)
5. TIMELINESS: Your article must be no more than 6 months old from the date you hand it in
6. SOURCES: It is important for you to be able to read and evaluate high quality news reporting. Much science
journalism is sensationalistic and not accurate enough to justify your time. Appropriate sources may include
(but are not limited to):
Newspapers: New York Times (especially Tuesday’s ‘Science Times’), Oregonian, Boston Globe, Washington
Post, Los Angeles Times,…the major papers…
Magazines: Discover, Time, Newsweek, Natural History, Science News, The Scientist, Audubon Magazine,
National Geographic, Scientific American, BioScience, news sections of the weekly professional journals Nature
and Science
Web Sites: You MAY NOT use web sites for this exercise unless they are VALID sites (i.e. those from the above
listed sources) If you have questions about this, please ask me before you decide on an article to present.
Due Tuesday June 9, 2015
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