Style and format for Assignment #5


1. Include a title page with this format:

Your name.
Complete reference for the article, using the same format as in Assignment #2:

Yanovski JA, Yanovski SZ, Sovik KN, Nguyen TT, O'Neil PM, Sebring NG. 2000.  A prospective study of holiday weight gain.  New England Journal of Medicine.  342: 861-867

Staple the pages of your paper together, so that I don't lose them.  
Don't put your paper in a fancy binder.  

2. Your paper should be about 3 pages of typewritten text, 10 pt, double-spaced, one-inch margins.  

3. Spelling counts. Use the American spelling of words (estrogen, not oestrogen) even if the research paper uses the British spellings. Grammar counts.  See grading guidelines.  

4. Write in a style as if you are writing for your classmates. Don't try to emulate the bombastic style of scientific articles, but aim rather for the level of  Science Times or Scientific American or Discovery articles. It's okay to use terms that should be familiar to a student from the lectures in this class, but if you use terminology that you learned while reading this article, then define it.  Use clear, direct English.  

5.  Don't just make an outline of what you read; rather read it, understand it, then put the ideas together in your own words.


Summary:  This should be about one page.

Begin with one or two sentences that summarize the article and the main conclusions.

Explain how this research relates to what is currently known in the field:

  • Does it lend further support to a theory? 
  • Does it bring evidence that challenges an accepted theory? 
  • Does it bring totally new knowledge about something that just hadn't been studied before?

Briefly describe the methods.  Was this a strictly experimental approach (interventional)?  Or did they observe subjects without doing anything invasive to them?  What was the control group, if any?  How did they ensure that the control group was similar to the experimental group? Don't quote the authors' text.  Write in your own words.  Omit details that are unnecessary at this point.

Briefly describe the results in your own words.  Do the data given in graphs and figures seem to show what the authors say they do?

Explain how the authors interpret their data.  How do these findings relate to what's currently known?

Critique - This should be about two pages

Discuss the weaknesses of the experiment. Use the questions I gave you in class as a guide, but don't simply list answers to these.  Consider which questions may be relevant to this particular study.  At this point, you can bring in additional details from the methods or results or discussion, as appropriate.

A superficial critique would point out that there might be confounding variables that could account for the results.  A more valuable critique would suggest specific variables that may account for the results.  See Assignment #1 for examples.

Don't just point out the weaknesses of the experiment; suggest some reasonable ways that the investigators might improve their next study.