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  1. 1. Year 13 Research Briefing BriefingYou must produce a written briefing on a topic of physics of your own choosing.The work is expected to be exploratory, with the aim of collecting and analysinginformation about an issue which incorporates a range of physics. You must alsoconsider some aspect of the wider context of the physics, considering social, historical,economic, or environmental issues.We are looking to see whether you can:• Work independently;1• draw together ideas from different aspects of physics;2• select and extract information from a variety of sources;3• apply knowledge and understanding of basic ideas to a new topic;4• translate and interpret information that may be available in a variety of forms;5• place physics ideas in a wider human or social context;6• communicate scientific ideas in continuous prose using good English;7• use published material as part of research.What you will do1. To begin, choose a suitable topic for research2. Spend some time collecting relevant information from a range of sources in order to obtain a sample of the information available.A range of sources means books, journals, pamphlets, surveys, interviews, libraries,databases and web sites.3. Summarise the findings of the research in the form of a written report or article addressed to scientifically knowledgeable readers.The article has a maximum word limit of 2000 words i.e. 3-4 pages of A4.4. You should use ICT as appropriate.5. You should spend 2-3 hours deciding your topic, after which you should spend a further 5-6 hours on more detailed research and writing up.6. All information sources consulted must be listed and published material used should be given full references.7. When you have completed your written report you will have a short question and answer session with the class so that you can demonstrate your understanding of the topic.
  2. 2. Bibliography and referencing. ALWAYS write down the details of where you have got the information from - author, date, publisher, title etc for EVERYTHING, ALWAYS and if you do not do this you will be in trouble.The report must be in your own words. Attempts at plagiarism ie. copying and pastingare obvious and are unacceptable. You may use short, relevant quotations integrated intoyour text. You report should contain references to your sources by using numbers likethis1. Or this2. And so on. You can get small number like this by pressing Ctrl-shift-+, andtype normally by doing the same again. At the end of your report, list your sources in aBibliography like this:An example of a bibliography: Book title Author(s) + date of publication1. Driver, R., Leach, J., Millar, R. and Scott, P. (1996) Young People’s Images of Science.Buckingham, OUP Where published and publisher A magazine or journal title Title of article2. Lakin, S. and Wellington, J. (1994) Who will teach the ‘nature of science’? InternationalJournal of Science Education, 16 (2), 175 –190. Title, issue number and page numbers3. QCA (1999). National Curriculum Review Consultation Materials: Science, Website - has the NAME as well as the URL Alphabetical order For a book For a magazine/journal For a website article Author(s) name and initial Author(s) name and initial The name of the organisation or person who is responsible for the content Title Title of article The URL Date of publication Title of magazine/journal Searching the Internet… Where published Date of publication Name of publisher The Internet is not edited. number can write anything so BEWARE. Issue Anyone Page numbers Page number Start in Google and go to Advanced Search… There is nothing worse than getting to the end and having to go back and find Where isthings again. type in says Domain, .edu and this means that you will only get material that is published by universities 2 in the US and UK. You can expand your search afterwards but this is always a good place to start.
  3. 3. Choosing a topicWhat makes a good choice? Something that interests you Something you know very little about Something you saw on the news/in a magazine/journal Something that is not just about a very small part of physics Something that has a wider impact in societyThe topic can be experimental, theoretical or applied.You can approach the search for a suitable topic in a variety of ways - from a personalinterest, a television documentary, a radio programme, a newspaper etc. - each of whichis equally valid. You could, of course, look randomly through copies of the “NewScientist” magazine to see if you can find, in those pages, something you have a desireto follow through.When deciding your topic, make sure you keep in touch with your teacher, who mustapprove your choice before you go into more detail.When reading through articles/technical literature you need to be responsive to possibleignition points, openings, opportunities which might provide pathways into your chosenfield. Don’t just read straight through complete articles - look for ignition points: titles canbe inviting ........ ends of articles are often interesting ....... looking for places where theauthor summarises ...... ends of paragraphs might provide a trigger mechanism.To summarise:Identify your broad AREA for study. Within that area look hard for departure points whichstrike you as intriguing and “follow-up-able”. Put yourself in a moderately active position -dig, penetrate and inquire, to see if there isn’t something you can find which, howeverfanciful or modest, you have something of a design to follow through.A cautionary word regarding your choice of topic A topic which is irrelevant to you will result in the writing being uninspired. Broad topic areas do not lead to well focussed reports. Topics that can only be researched from one source result in summaries - not a research paper. Topics that are novel and interesting often lead to first class pieces of work. Topics which are technically too difficult ought to be avoided. 3
  4. 4. “There is no way you can create a good Paper from an unworkable topic”Academic distractionsDon’t write out what you already know.Don’t copy out what you can easily locate.Face up to challenges head on; be tough/ruthlessYou can train yourself to be more analytical - you can force yourself to train/develop/ refineyour powers of analysis.Which one are you?Experienced teachers know that, once the initial research has been underway for a weekor so, the efforts of each of their students will correspond with one of the following “type”descriptors:The Minimalist- one who has taken a somewhat unintelligent approach to the initial stages of research;may have been flippant, insincere, closed-minded, disorganised, shallow or superficial,and as a result has made little progress.The Inquiring Mind- one who has fought hard to select a topic area which seems interesting/promising andwho has, in the process, rejected a number of alternative topics which seemed ratherobscure, less interesting, too technically demanding or simply too limited and limiting.Through reading has found some ignition points, trigger mechanisms, pathways into thesubject area, and has begun to follow up some of these through further literature searches.- - don’t be a minimalist.Writing the reportWe all feel there’s more to be done - more to read. You tell yourself “I’m not ready to writethis thing yet - I’ve only just begun to get going”. But it is important to say “HALT” .... andwork from what you’ve got. You do have to be able to say - in plenty of time - “That’s it!That’s it! I’m not going to look at another source or another record.”Your report should:• Explain the main ideas and results in the topic• What these are based on• How they have developed or changed, if applicable• or How they are novel or disputed• Give arguments for the importance or interest of the topic eg: scientific, technological, ethical, social, economic or environmental. 4