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  • BackgroundDeveloped with Empirical Research Methods in Communication Faculty (initially)He wanted his students to think more critically about health news especially news about research PurposeHe wanted his students to do several thingsBe better consumers of media content, especially as it related to coverage of scientific researchBe able to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a popular news articleBe able to compare the story in the popular press with the actual results of the studyBe able to break down the elements of an empirical research studyUnderstand both the scientific reporting process (what kinds of information make and the scholarly publication processUnderstand the research landscape and how any individual study is just a piece of a larger puzzle Design Initial design was done via email and face-to-face meetings 75 minute class I would walk them through an example I would give them an example to work throughThey would have a ‘junk science’ assignment which involved finding another story and then the original article and then comparing them to each other. Execution Did it for his class for two semesters, then added in the other sections of Empirical Research in CommunicationAdapted it for a 50-minute class time They dropped the assignment last semester, so I don’t know if I will keep doing this for them or not. Afterthoughts The more current the example, the more engaged they areThere is a great chance for ‘a-ha’ moments if you find the right exampleIt can really be a self contained info-lit unit because it lets you talk about Google vs. the library (esp. if they use it to try and track down the original article and they get asked to pay %=$) Media content Research ProcessScholarly vs. Popular articlesAnatomy of a scholarly article (including limitations and next steps) Search strategies (could bring in discovery service, catalog, FAJ or Databases into the mix) What to attend to when evaluating journal articles Adapting the idea:One shots 50 minsFor-Credit Assignments


  • 1. Junk Science: Encouraging Critical Thinking in aCommunication Research Methods Class Rosalind Tedford Director for Research and Instruction Services ZSR Library, Wake Forest University tedforrl@wfu.edu LOCATION HERE | MAY 12, 2009
  • 2. Original „Junk Science‟ Assignment• Background• Purpose• Design• Execution• Afterthoughts• Adapting the idea: – One shots – 50 mins – For-credit – Assignments
  • 3. Autism Example• News Reports – New York Times (Best) – PR Newswire (Meh) – Bloomington Alternative (Worst) – Coverage from a funding source (you decide)• Actual Study in Archives of General Psychiatry• New Republic Article
  • 4. Other Sites for Inspiration• Google a phrase like: – “New research shows” – “New study finds” – “Researchers have found”• TimeHealthland• NY Times Health• NIH News in Health• NHS Behind The Headlines (from UK – they actually look at the real research)
  • 5. Other Useful Links• NPR Story on scientific reporting and retractions• Parody news web site about a scientific article (BRILLIANT and the comments are even better)• The Lay Scientist Blog
  • 6. Questions? Rosalind Tedford tedforrl@wfu.edu Presentation Available:http://www.slideshare.net/roztedford