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1.3: Activity 2 - Scientific Method and Article Analysis

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    Jess Whalen, Mt. San Jacinto College

    How do archaeologists examine human activity in the past and present? Like all scientists do: using the scientific method! The scientific method is a systematic way of examining the world around us. We observe phenomena, make predictions, test those predictions, and revisit our original research questions.

    We often learn the scientific method as a series of steps, but it’s actually a circular process of testing predictions and comparing what we observe to what we expected, revising our hypotheses and testing methods, and trying again. Replication is important: all scientific discoveries must be replicated several times by different researchers before we can say that we have found a pattern, an effect, or an explanation for why something occurs.

    Part 1. Identify the Scientific Method

    Your instructor will give you copy of a scientific study or part of a study. From the information you are given (an abstract, a full study, a chart, or other material), reconstruct how the study followed the scientific method.

    Try to determine what issue or characteristic was being observed and how the researchers tested the phenomenon. As you read the article, consider: What predictions did they make about what was happening (their hypothesis or scientific prediction)? What is the value of this research? How does this information help us understand more about humans and human behavior—not just in the past but today?

    Complete the following.

    1. Study the article and summarize the material you were given (study title, authors, etc.).
    2. Fill in as much of the following chart as you can concerning the study.
    Scientific method step (if present) What information can you piece together?
    Issue being observed
    Testing methods

    1. How does the information in the study material help us understand more about humans and human behavior? What information does it offer in terms of science and humanity in general? Could this information be helpful to an industry or other organizations or groups? Think broadly here and write down all of your ideas!

    Part 2. Annotated Bibliography

    An annotated bibliography is a brief summary of an article or other scientific text. Follow the directions below to create an annotated bibliography of the study you were given.

    1. Summarize in paragraph form the results of the study you read in Part 1. Use the information you obtained about the hypotheses and testing methods to develop a short summary of the research and its findings. Refer to the study by the last name of the author(s) and the year it was published (“a study by Whalen and Ozolins (2017) reported that…”). Include a brief summation of what the study examined and what it found. Try to be as clear and concise as possible while still providing critical details.
    2. What does the study you read suggest about research questions that remain unexamined or should be followed up?

    Part 3. The Literature Review

    A literature review is an important step in conducting scientific research. Before testing an observation, we need to understand what research has already been done on the question. What is the state of understanding of the topic? What have other researchers already achieved? What about it remains unexplained?

    1. To conduct a literature review, you search for and review information from prior studies of the topic in the scientific literature. You can use the bibliography at the end of the study or your library’s online databases to find related studies (scholarly articles, books, dissertations, and conference proceedings). Your instructor will tell you how many resources to use. For each of the selected works, write an annotated bibliography using the format described in Part 2.

    1. Write an introduction for your collection of reviewed literature that briefly summarizes all of the pieces in a single paragraph. In the paragraph, describe what was studied in each piece of literature you reviewed and its findings using one or two sentences. You should once again refer to the study by the researchers’ last names and the year the study was published (“In a study by Kimble and Jones (2018)…”). Plan your paragraph so it is cohesive: decide which research to summarize first and how you will draw all of the statements together to form a unified and well-organized explanation of research on the topic. Be sure to identify how the studies are similar to and different from each other.

    1. Now that you have investigated some of the current research on this topic, consider gaps in the literature and useful directions for future research. Write some examples below.