Scientist Says
How Scientists Communicate the Findings of Their Research

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Background

A published Bald Eagle research paper

One of the most important steps in a scientist's work is the sharing of research results with other scientists. Before the findings of any research can be accepted as "fact" and become an accepted part of scientific knowledge, they must first be discussed and reviewed by other scientists. This is a formal process. Scientists summarize their research in "scientific papers" and these papers are published in professional journals. This is how the body of scientific knowledge is built--and how it constantly changes as new research findings replace the old.

As a way to synthesize your students' learning this spring, have them write scientific papers based on the research they have reviewed or conducted. This activity is best used with one of the migrations tracked by satellite, since the on-line data collected is part of a real research project. However, some students may invent and test their own hypotheses about other migrations or spring events featured in Journey North.

Activity

1. As the satellite-tracked migrations begin, explain that these animals are being tracked by research scientists who are trying to answer specific questions about the animal they are studying.

2. Explain the importance of the scientific review process as described above. Introduce the format scientists use when writing a scientific paper. Distribute copies of the "Format of a Scientific Paper" handout. Discuss the contents of each section of the scientific paper.

3. As migration updates arrive, have students read them carefully and look for the kind of information and data that must be included in a scientific paper.

4. Challenge students to write their own scientific papers at the conclusion of the migration--just as our featured scientists are preparing to do!

Discussion

  1. What questions does the scientist have?
  2. How is he/she attempting to answer them?
  3. How are the data being collected?
  4. What does the scientist think about the data? Does he/she draw any conclusions?
  5. Is the research successful in answering the questions that were originally posed?




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