Biology 415   Winter Term, 2001
Guidelines for the 1st paper

Paper 1- Comparison of a journal article with a corresponding news article.

20 points. Due Fri., Feb. 9, 2001


1. To familarize you with the procedures involved in answering your own questions about issues in the general area of Bio 415.
2. To understand the differences (strengths and weaknesses of both) between news articles and scientific papers.


Find a description of a recent discovery relating to plant constituents in a newspaper or news magazine (i.e., a general source widely read by the nonscientific public).

Then, locate* the original journal article (with data/evidence) on which the newspaper article was based. Write a paper no more than two-pages long comparing: a) the way that the importance of the results were presented in the Introduction and Discussion of the journal article with b) the way the results of the journal article were presented in the newspaper. Submit a photocopy of the newspaper article and the journal article with your paper.

1. State the problem or central issue clearly. (2 pts)
2. Provide some general background, so that a reader can understand the problem or issue.
    Explain why this problem/issue is important.(5 points)

3. Summarize the key points of the journal article. (4 points)
4. Summarize the key points of the newspaper article. (4 points)
5. Compare and contrast the two articles with emphasis on evaluating what was presented to the public.
    (5 points)

There are many ways of arranging and explaining these ideas, particularly under item #5 where you should use your imagination.

*Sometimes the news articles do not specify where the original journal appeared, but you will find the online databases such as Medline, Current Contents or Biosis helpful in locating the journal article if it has been out more than 2 months in the case of Medline and Current Contents or 9 months for Biosis. The Science Citation Index at the Web of Science (accessible online through Mirlyn) can also be a good search tool. It is accessible through the UM domain and is also quite up-to-date. In searching, you can use a combination of the author's name and a key word (or more) to "fish" out the citation that you need. Sometimes, it may be necessary to use just the key words and some other clues in the news article.

Return to the
Bio 415 home page or to the guidelines for the second paper.