For this discussion, you will choose a genetics article from a scientific journal (not from the popular press). Be sure that it has the sections described at the end of these instructions (materials and methods, results, etc.). Evaluate the article carefully and submit an original post that contains the following sections:
- Article Link: be sure to provide a link to the article or attach a complete copy of the article for your classmates.
- Citation: give the complete citation for the article including title, author(s), date, publisher, etc.
- Scientific Method: give your opinion about whether the researchers carried out the steps of the scientific method.
- Validity of Hypothesis: give your opinion about the validity of the hypothesis. What led the author(s) to propose this particular hypothesis?
- Sections of the Article: give your opinion about whether the sections of the article fulfilled the characteristics described below. How did the authors demonstrate and evaluate their data? Briefly describe each section of the article.
- Design of Experiment: give your opinion about the effectiveness of the design of the experiment. Did the study effectively test the original hypothesis? Were the conclusions valid?
- Quality of Published Article: give your opinion about the overall quality of the published article.
Background Information about Experimental Design
We learned in Module 1 that the scientific method includes the following steps:
Observations are necessary in order to arrive at questions about the natural world that could be investigated. The observer develops a hunch and states the idea in the form of a hypothesis, which is a statement that can be tested. In order to test the hypothesis, the scientist designs an experiment that will generate data that will either support or reject the hypothesis. A well-designed experiment usually controls all variables except for the one being tested. After the experiment is completed, the researcher will make conclusions: data are analyzed and the researcher will determine whether or not they support the hypothesis. If the results of the experiment do not support the hypothesis, the scientist will either revise the hypothesis or pose a new hypothesis. If the results do support the hypothesis, he/she will often design similar experiments, hoping to corroborate the earlier findings. Scientific experiments must be reproducible in order to be accepted by the scientific community.
Once the scientific experiment is concluded, it is very important that the researcher publish the results, to enable colleagues to build on this knowledge. Both positive and negative results are published. An experiment that failed to support the initial hypothesis may inspire another scientist to come up with a better hypothesis!
Scientific papers are written in a precise way to facilitate related experiments. Typically, a scientific paper will include the following sections:
ABSTRACT: The abstract is an extremely brief summary of what the experiment was about and what the results were. The author is trying to give readers the gist of the experiment, to allow them to decide whether or not to read the entire paper.
INTRODUCTION: The introduction contains background material (general information) about the topic. Other sources are often cited here (textbooks, books, journal articles, Internet sites, etc.). Included in this section is the reason why the experiment was performedâ€”what did the author hope to find out and what results were expected? The hypothesis is clearly stated here.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: This section includes a description of how the experiment was performed, with as many details as possible. The point of this section is to give the reader exact directions for duplicating the experiment. A list of materials is given, along with descriptions of measuring devices and procedures. The Materials and Methods section should be written in past tense (the experiment has already been completed).
RESULTS: This section records the results of the experiment. Tables or graphs of data are usually included in this section.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Now the meaning of the results and their importance are discussed. Do the results support the hypothesis? Why or why not? How does this study relate to previous research in this area? The experiment is critiqued and changes are suggested. New ideas for future research are discussed. Related experiments pertaining to the topic are proposed.
LITERATURE CITED: This section includes a list of the sources cited in the paper.