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Purpose: Throughout your life, you will be exposed to media coverage of scientific findings. The goal of this assignment is to help you dig deeper and assess the accuracy of media claims based on empirical research.
Task: Your task is to compare how a media article represents the findings of a research journal article. For this assignment, you will CHOOSE a pair of articles from the options available below. Your analysis should include the following components:
Brief introduction – 1-2 sentences about what the topic of the research is.
Research article summary (About 1 page): IN YOUR OWN WORDS, describe what happened in the research study. Who were the participants? What were the procedures (what did the researchers do)? What were their results? What is the importance of the findings? Note that all of the articles contain at least one biological variable. Examples of biological variable include brain imaging (fMRI, PET, etc.), levels of hormones such as cortisol (assessed in blood or saliva samples), physiological measures such as heart rate and skin conductance, etc.
Make sure you explicitly identify the biological variable in your article summary. A biological variable is a measure of a bodily process (blood flow, brain activity, cortisol level). You should note what is being measured (for example, brain activity in a specific area) and how it is being measured (for example, using fMRI).
Detailed accuracy assessment (About 1-2 pages): Assess and describe the accuracy with which the media article captures each aspect of the study, including: 1. The participants and their representativeness for broader conclusions or recommendations. 2. The procedures used by the researchers. 3. The conclusions reached by the researchers. Does the media article overstate the conclusions (for example, mistaking correlation for causation, or overgeneralizing from one population to another)?
Compare the claims made by the titles of the two articles.
Summary assessment – 1-2 sentences about how accurately the media article captured the journal article.
Note that the goal of this assignment is to clearly and concisely answer the above questions. It is fine to structure the assignment around these questions rather than to focusing on finding unique ways to say things or perfect transitions.
Because we are focusing on communicating about science clearly and concisely, your final assignment should be no more than 5 pages, and longer submissions will be penalized.
Make sure that you are using correct attribution to avoid plagiarism. Cutting and pasting from an article without attribution constitutes plagiarism. Any direct quotes should be enclosed in quotation marks and credited in APA format using in-text citations. For example, “The use of candy provides an important means of motivation” (Wonka, 2019, p. 20). Direct quotes should be used sparsely (if at all), as the goal is to put research in your own words and convey it clearly. Research summaries in your own words also require proper APA in-text citation. Further guidelines on correct attribution and citations in APA format can be found at:
Criteria: Assignments will be graded based on whether you thoroughly addressed each of the components described above, as well as the clarity of your writing. The full grading rubric for this assignment is on Canvas. Completed assignments should be 12-point font, double-spaced, 3-5 pages in length, and uploaded to Canvas by the due date.
Choose ONE of the following media / journal article topics below for this assignment – note that each topic includes a link to the media article and the journal article you should use for your analysis:
1) Placebo Effect :
Media Article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/202008/if-you-believe-placebo-reduces-negative-feelings-it-might
Original Journel Article (File name): Placebos without deception reduce self-report
and neural measures of emotional distress
2) Smartphones as security blankets:
Media Article: https://www.snexplores.org/article/smartphones-may-serve-digital-security-blankets
Original Journel Article (File name): The Use of Smartphones as a Digital Security Blanket
3) Sleep apnea:
Media Article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2016/02/15/the-chemical-rollercoaster-sleep-apnea-triggers-in-your-brain/?sh=773d255e73a9
Original Journel Article (File name): Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with low GABA and high glutamate in the insular cortex
4) All nighters and brain damage:
Media Article: https://www.salon.com/2018/07/21/pulling-all-nighters-may-damage-your-brain_partner/
Original Journel Article (File name): Sleep Deprivation
5) Memory and Exercise:
Media Article (File name): Even a 10-Minute Walk May Be Good for the Brain
Original Journel Article (File name): Mild excersize
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