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Your Science Tool Kit – Evaluating Scientific Messages

Your Science Tool Kit is a set of questions based on Understanding Science 101 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. and is one way you can help yourself understand a news report about science. Your analysis in this STK will focus on the Science Daily article “Complete rest until symptom-free after a concussion may not be best for recovery.”


Note: All responses must be supported by information from your readings. Provide specific quotations or data to validate your position in each response. Use APA (American Psychological Association) style in-text citations and references.

Part 1

  1. Where did the author of the news article get the scientific information he/she is reporting (the “source”)? (Give the full name of the journal or publication, website, etc., with a link you located, and the scientist’s name.)
  2. Does this scientific source have a purpose or goal? (Go to the website of the journal/publisher and see who publishes this (i.e., what organization or government agency), and check their stated objectives or goals. Is this a “peer reviewed” scientific journal?)

Use the EC (Excelsior College) Library resource, Evaluation Criteria, to help you evaluate a source.


Part 2

  1. Is there a difference in the information/data you find in the news article compared to the information provided in the module resources and/or the abstract from the science journal that published the research? The module resources should represent the “scientific community”—the majority of scientists who work in the field and their ideas and research results.
  2. Is there a difference between what you learned from this article and what you thought before? Do you think the American public would agree with the findings reported in the news article?  Why or why not?


Part 3

  1. Do all the scientific sources you have examined on this topic provide data or information that supports the premise of the news article? Did the reporter find any scientists who disagree? Give specific quotations and examples to support your response.
  2. What two questions do you wish you could ask the author of the news article and/or the author of the scientific report?

Concluding Questions

  1. Does the evidence suggest correlation or causation? In other words, does the data suggest that two factors (e.g., high blood pressure and heart attack rates) are correlated with one another, or that changes in one actually cause changes in the other?
  2. Is the evidence based on a large sample of observations (e.g., 10,000 patients with high blood pressure) or just a few isolated incidents?
  3. Does the evidence in the scientific literature (module readings and/or abstract of the scientific journal) back up the claims made in the news article?
  4. Does the reporter exaggerate or overstate in any sensationalized manner the findings?

Give concrete examples from your readings to support your positions on each question.

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