Library Skills

Instructions

  1. Complete the Library Skills Unit: To do well on this assignment, you must first complete the Library Skills Unit, which includes an Information Literacy session and a skill-building tutorial.

  2. Select a source that meets the following criteria. Select a popular-audience presentation of original anthropological research from a reputable outlet.  For more details, see Assignment 1 Guide.

  1. Uncover the primary research: Start by reading the paper that is being reported on (or, if you are working with a broader source, like a review of a topic, isolate a specific claim and trace that to its primary literature). Then, through a citation search, follow the trail of scholarly research surrounding the claim that is being made. For more details, see Assignment 1 Guide.

  • Avoid plagiarism! Even though you will be working closely with some sources, it is very important to practice good information hygiene. Use in-text citations, paraphrase whenever possible, avoid quoting directly, and if you need to quote, use quotation marks.

 

What to submit

  • Your paper and reference list

  • A copy of the source paper (e.g. the newspaper article) you are analyzing.

  • Ensure that everything fits the Citation Guide and Formatting requirements! For more details, see the Written Assignments Formatting And Submission Requirements.

How to choose a good topic

  1. Select a popular-audience presentation of original anthropological research from a reputable outlet. The source must meet the following requirements:

How to uncover the primary research

Start by reading the paper that is being reported on (or, if you are working with a broader source, like a review of a topic, isolate a specific claim and trace that to its primary literature). Then, through a citation search, follow the trail of scholarly research surrounding the claim that is being made. Consider:

  • What did the authors of the primary scholarly work (on which your popular piece is based) actually say? Are they making the same claim that the popular piece says they are?

  • What limitations do they identify in their study? (Scholars in scientific fields are expected to be open and transparent about any weaknesses in their work. If they don’t, other scholars will point them out to them.)

  • What have other scholars in the field said about the major claim in the piece, both before and since it was published? Did they have any major critiques to make, and what did the authors say in response?

  • Is there a scholarly consensus on the topic among researchers in that field? Does that consensus match the message that was reported in the popular media?

  1. Avoid plagiarism! Even though you will be working closely with some sources, it is very important to practice good information hygiene. Use in-text citations, paraphrase whenever possible, avoid quoting directly, and if you need to quote, use quotation marks.

Structure

Your paper must be between 1200-1400 words and include the following sections:

Introduction

This is where your “hook”, or thesis statement, should go. Identify your topic of choice and give the reader a road map to where your analysis is headed.

The Claim

Summarize the popular article that you are researching, especially the claims that it makes: what is the main story they are reporting?

Include important contextual information such as:

  •  the date of original publication,

  •  the author’s name and background (they must be a journalist, but many science journalists have research backgrounds),

  • whether the piece has been updated or added to recently,

  • whether the author has published anything else on the subject.

 

The Evidence

Here is where you should summarize the primary research on which the journalistic story was based – as well as any directly-related work that the journalist didn’t capture in their piece.

  • Identify the primary source and summarize its findings. (Pay attention to the discussion section, which generally does a good job of summarizing a paper’s claims in less-technical language.)

  • Summarize any foregoing or subsequent papers that directly comment on the first one (these will often be in the form of other journal articles, or even Letters to the Editor in the journal that published it).

  • A minimum of five scholarly sources, including the main primary source, is required (for the entire assignment).

Discussion

Compare and contrast the reported scholarly findings with the claims made in the journalistic piece. How well do they hold up? Is the primary source well accepted or challenged by its scholarly community? Are there any specific points of contention?

Conclusion

Close with a concluding statement about how accurately the journalist represented the primary research and whether a reader should accept the claim.