Bio 196 Guidelines for Two-Page News Critique

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Bio 196, Section 02 Spring 2008

Two-page science news critique (10 points)

On the last day of class (April 28th) I expect you to bring to class and turn in a two-page (see formatting guidelines below) critique of the science news article of your choice. You must attach a copy of the article itself, showing the paper it came from and the date it was published on.

If you wish to complete this assignment early I will be happy to receive it early. I WILL NOT ACCEPT ASSIGNMENTS AFTER CLASS CONCLUDES ON April 28. If you have a legitimate, unexpected reason for missing class on April 28th I will require (written) documentation of the reason for your absence. Just to help avoid confusion, here is a non-exhaustive list of some reasons that I would NOT consider legitimate:

You forgot

Your boss changed your work hours

You have to go to traffic court

You have a doctor’s appointment (except as re: getting run over by car)

[add yours]

My advice to you is: Plan Ahead. I’m not asking for War and Peace. Just get it done and turn it in, so you can’t get caught by the end of the semester crunch.

Guidelines for choosing an article to critique:

Source: Any newspaper, written in English, published on any date between 28 Jan and 28 April 2008.

Length: Must be at least 500 words long; as a rule of thumb, a vertical inch of column space in the newspaper will be about 35 words. Thus, you need an article no shorter than about 14 inches. A hint: it will be a lot easier for you to write a critique of a long article than of a short one. There’s more to write about.

Subject area: Can be any area of science. If you have any doubt about the article, show it to me, and I can let you know if it’s appropriate.

Guidelines for the critique itself:

Length: Two pages, typed.

Formatting: No smaller than 12 point font; no more than double-spaced between lines (and certainly no less than single-spaced!); one-inch margins on all sides. Black ink printing only.

Content: I am expecting the following elements to be present in your critique:

  • Title of the article
  • Author of the article
  • A concise (no more than one quarter of the length of the whole) summary of the main points of the article you have chosen. Do not quote, or paraphrase, the article. Use your own words to tell me: What are the main questions/issues addressed? What is the single most important conclusion in the article?
  • Assess the quality of the article from the point of view of: Accuracy (does the article say things you know or suspect to be wrong?); Evidence (is there sufficient evidence presented for you to believe the conclusions of the article?); Balance (does the reporter consider alternative explanations? Are experts, from all sides of an issue interviewed and quoted?); Clarity (how hard is it to understand the article?)General interest (is anyone but you and the reporter likely to be interested?); Importance (how likely is it that the information presented will change policy/technology/behavior/the world?)

Questions? Ask me, email me ( or call me (486-4158).