Intro to Research Methods Article Lab Report

Description

Summarize the scientific claim, original research, and your critical analysis in an APA style written summary. Your report should be three to four type-written pages (750-1000 words), not including a title page or references. Be sure to use APA style. Refer to your textbook (Chapter 16 & Appendix D) and the references you found in Laboratory #1: Surfin’ Safari on how to write an effective report using APA style. There are 3 things required; the link to the popular press article, screenshots of the popular press and the pdf of the research.

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8
Stairway to Heaven
It is not unusual for newspapers, magazines, television, and radio to report that scientists
have made some astounding discovery, or are at least making important new claims about
nature. The next time you stand in line at the supermarket, glimpse through the magazine
section and you will be sure to find a cure for AIDS, the depletion of the ozone layer,
memory loss in old age, or a new drug for weight control. You probably will not be
surprised to find that what is reported in the popular media is sometimes a distortion of the
actual research that gave rise to the report. Most of these distortions are subtle, not
fabrications of National Enquirer variety, but small changes in nuance such as exaggerating
the importance of the results or failing to mention that subjects were not randomly assigned
to treatment groups. Unfortunately, most people only have contact with the popular media
and not with the research reports in scientific journals, and consequently, any misleading
statements made in the media can lead to inaccurate beliefs in the public.
In one remarkable instance, a student in this course actually discovered that not only was
the press report inaccurate, but the reporter had used a pseudonym, or false name. After
several phone calls, the student discovered that the article was based almost entirely on the
opinions of the reporter and not on any empirical data. The Free Press did not know the
name of the reporter because it had picked up the story from a wire service, Canadian Press
(CP). CP would not reveal the reporter’s real name to our sleuth.
As we near the end of this course, you too should be a more critical reader of research
literature than the typical media reporter. What we want you to do in this last exercise is to
find a “scientific” claim in the popular press and compare that claim with the actual
research. Do the media accurately portray the original research?
The task is described in more detail below, but there are three elements to this exercise.
First, your group will search for a report in the popular press about some new discovery in
psychology and then find the original research report. Second, your group will give a ten
minute oral presentation to the class about the original research report, along with your
critical analysis. Third, your group will summarize the popular press claim, the original
research, and your critical analysis in the form of a brief written report.
Finding a Popular Press Report
First, you must find a scientific claim made in a popular magazine, newspaper, or online
source. Possible sources include daily newspapers (e.g., the Globe and Mail has a social
science section), heath and women’s magazines (e.g., Prevention), radio shows (e.g.,
Quirks and Quarks on CBC radio), and online sources and websites (e.g., Psychology
Today). Collect four or five media reports, so that if one article leads to a dead end, you
will have others to fall back on.
Here are a couple of examples of popular press articles:
Music rewards brain like sex or drugs
http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2011/01/10/science-music-brain-dopamine.html
Junk –food addiction may change brain
http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2010/03/29/junk-food-addiction-brain.html
Performance anxiety? Write your worries away, study says
http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Health/20110112/write-away-worries-110116/
Cannabis use ‘raises psychosis risk’– study
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12616543
What do dreams mean? Whatever your bias says

Study links body shape to happiness in preteens
http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/_UNDEFINED_VALUE_/20090826/bodyimage_study_0908
26/
The University of Winnipeg library has Newspaper Databases that you can use to search for
your popular press articles. To access the Newspaper Databases:
• Go to the library website: http://library.uwinnipeg.ca/
• Select Databases on the right side of the page.
• Click the down arrow in the box under All databases types.
• Select News.
You can also go to various media outlet websites directly. Here are a few:
www.winnipegfreepress.com
www.cbc.ca
www.theglobeandmail.com
www.nationalpost.com
www.ctv.ca
http://www.foxnews.com/
http://www.globalnational.com/
Finding the Original Research
Next, find the original research report on which the popular press article is based. Press
reports that identify a specific journal in which the research was published and author
names require the least effort. The media will often quote an expert’s opinion on a topic
that is of interest to the public, but there may be no published research underlying the
expert’s opinion. Thus, in your search the names of journals will be more usable than the
names of experts. Be sure to use an original research report, not a review of published
research. The New England Journal of Medicine, Science, Nature, and the Journal of the
American Medical Association are popular targets of media reports. You will have to use
the library databases (e.g., PsycInfo, PsychArticles, EBSCOhost, PubMed, JStor, etc) or
Google Scholar to track down the original research article. Articles not available at the
library may be obtained through Interlibrary Loan; however, it may take some time for the
article to come in.
Oral Report
The second aspect of this laboratory is a critical analysis of the research report. In your
presentation you will need to: (1) introduce the claim made in the article in the popular
press, (2) describe (concisely) the design, method, results and main conclusion of the
original research article, (3) discuss and critically evaluate the above aspects, and (4)
discuss the validity of the claim in the popular press, in light of what you have said about
the original research report.
Original research reports are like diamonds in a jewelry store. They vary in quality; some
are exquisitely cut and have excellent colour and others are flawed. Consider such points
as random assignment and subject selection problems, operational definitions, confounded
variables, external validity, and problems inherent in quasi-experimental designs. In short,
bring all you have learned about conduction good scientific research to your analysis of the
article.
Organize the presentation to make it effective orally. To help the listeners understand your
explanation, it is recommended, but not required, that you use PowerPoint. You must have
at least one slide to display a table, figure, or summarize the main results of the research
you are discussing. You should also have a second slide to diagram the research design.
Remember to keep your audio-visual aids simple and leave them on the screen while you
are talking long enough for the audience to read them.
If this is your first attempt at public speaking, do not be surprised to find you are nervous.
It is perfectly normal. Accept it and get on with the task. Remember, you are trying to
communicate, so look around the room at your audience, rather than speaking to your notes
or the back wall. Speak sufficiently loud to be heard by all, but do not shout, and keep your
pace under control. Be enthusiastic; if you appear bored with your presentation, your
listeners will surely be so. Above all, practice before your final delivery. You will only
have ten minutes to complete your presentation.
Speak from an outline or notes, but do not simply read your written paper; you will get lost
if you try and will lose the interest of your audience. Refer to the websites you found while
doing Lab #1: Surfin’ Safari with tips on how to give an effective presentation.
The presentations will be graded according to a grade sheet on Nexus organized by your lab
instructor. They will likely place their grading sheet under Laboratory #8 for their
respective Lab Sections as Presentation Grade Sheet. Ask your lab instructor if you are
having difficulty locating it.
It is respectful and polite to listen attentively to other speakers and not to leave until all of
the presentations are completed. Students may lose marks if they leave early or miss a class
of presentations entirely. This is at the discretion of the lab instructor.
Written Report
Summarize the scientific claim, original research, and your critical analysis in an APA style
written summary. Your report should be three to four type-written pages (750-1000 words),
not including a title page or references. Be sure to use APA style. Refer to your textbook
(Chapter 16 & Appendix D) and the references you found in Laboratory #1: Surfin’ Safari
on how to write an effective report using APA style.
Note
Ron Hoffman is the original author of this laboratory exercise.
Outline for Written Report
The purpose of having a written report is to test your ability to summarize your project
concisely (1000 words limit) in APA format. You will a) introduce the popular press
claim, b) summarize the study, c) do a critical analysis of the study, and d) compare it
with the press claim.
A good, simple summary of how to write an APA style report can be found here:
https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_
guide/general_format.html
Note that there is one major difference between your paper and the typical APA style
report, namely that your paper is not just a summary of a study, but a summary of a
study, critical analysis of a study, and exploration of a popular press claim. As such,
your headings and sections will go beyond what’s shown in OWL purdues sample
paper. These additions should be pretty straightforward. Aside from that, everything
else about the APA style outlined there (headers, title page, abstract, references)
should be followed for full marks. It may be a good idea to include an appendix page
with a graph or table as well, so that you can summarize findings without using so many
words. Please note, the word count of the title page, abstract and references does not
count towards the 1000 word limit.
With regards to marking, see ‘lab 8 paper gradesheet’ that is available on nexus.
Good luck!

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