Scientific Communication in Contemporary Society

The student will compose a brief essay comparing and contrasting scientific communication, including the role science plays in contemporary society (DSL 200.1), distinguishing between science and pseudoscience, and identifying when science is misrepresented in the media (DSL 200.3). The scientific data must be from reputable source(s) and must be accurately interpreted and cited (DSL 200.4). Additional reliable sources may be referred to, as needed or required.

The first source listed at the bottom is a news article discussing the primary study listed below it. Students should read both sources thoroughly to achieve a good understanding of what the primary source says, and then be able to evaluate how the information is communicated to the lay public in the news article. Students should look for any inaccuracies, omissions, or misrepresentations in the news article and point them out with specific evidence. Students may also comment on how well the news article communicates the information citing any specific examples as supporting evidence. Students should cover the background problems or observations investigated by the study in the introductory paragraph. Students should state the hypothesis according to the primary source (scientific study) and then explain how well that hypothesis is communicated by the news article. Students should further address how the news article describes experimental methods, key results, conclusions, and how the information should be applied in the larger context of the problems/observations previously stated. At the end, students should summarize how well the news article conveys the key information from the scientific study, referring to points made in the analysis throughout the paper.

Wherever possible, students should use the concepts described in the Communications Module on how proper scientific reporting should be conducted. Try to focus on examples of good scientific reporting illustrated while pointing out any areas of poor scientific reporting that deserve appropriate criticism. Bear in mind, a news article will never be as detailed as the original study, but they should relate the important information to their audience with sufficient detail and context without misleading the audience in any way.


For full details on evaluation, please refer to the grading rubric below. The journal includes the following processes and requirements:

  • Start with an engaging attention getter, and introduce the topic of the paper by identifying the scientific observations/problems addressed by the media communication and in the scientific communication;
  • Identify the media communication as a media communication/secondary source and the scientific communication as a scientific communication/primary source
  • Write a valid hypothesis statement which is addressed by the research in the scientific article and explain if the hypothesis is presented correctly in the media source;
  • Compare and contrast additional parts to the scientific method including research methods, results, and research conclusions comparing what is stated in the media source and the scientific source;
  • Effectively evaluate any data tables/charts needed to discuss this study properly, accurately describing what is communicated by that data;
  • End the journal definitively, summarizing key points made in the paper;
  • Use paraphrased information, examples, and evidence to support all points. Do not forget to cite paraphrased information with appropriate APA style citations in-text;
  • Properly organize information within and between paragraphs, including proper transitions and a clear flow of content in the paper;
  • Format layout, citations, and references in correct APA style (12 point font);
  • The final submission should be roughly between 3-5 pages double spaced (not including title and reference pages) while covering all parts of the grading rubric listed below.