Hi everyone! Amanda here. I’m sure you all understand how crucial your digital expression is to your final grade in this class, so, as your TA, I wanted to write a post to help guide you through your blogging.
Choosing your topic
If you’re as unsciencey as I was as a Science 200 student, choosing a science-related topic that you can write 500 words about seems like a daunting task. Below is a list of tips for picking your topic.
- Let topics find you. Personally, nothing that came up on my “science toipcs” Google searches ever really sparked my interest. Going through my days with a curious eye is what led me to write this blog chosen for Andrew’s own post about good blogging. An uncharacteristically low exam score after two weeks of homesickness led me to wonder whether or not there was a relationship between homesickness and academics, and, more importantly to me, whether or not a trip home would cause my grades to improve. Knocking out a blog post and planning my weekend? Win.
- Another way to kill two blogs with one stone is to write a blog series. If you check out another one of my blogs recommended by Andrew, you’ll see what I mean. Since I let my topic find me, I was far more interested in it. I saved the time it took me to research two topics and was able bang out two A+ posts in a lot less time.
Writing your blog
A lot of you have asked me how to proceed once you’ve chosen your topic. Here’s how I structured most of my best blogs.
- Explain what made you come up with the topic and raise the question that made you choose it.
- Give a little background info on the topic. Consider what is already known, what is still unknown, and people’s differing opinions about it. Add live links to sources of any information that is not obvious to the general public to avoid plagiarism issues and take care of the live link requirement.
- Choose a study that you would like to analyze and state how it was conducted. Apply concepts you learn in class such as direct and reverse causality, the possibility of chance, confounding variables, dependent and independent variables, retrospective or prospective studies, and other concepts to come. Side note: don’t be afraid to choose a study that is different from what you originally believe. It can make for a more interesting critique and it can also pay off to admit afterward that your initial opinion was not supported.
- Evaluate the methods by which the data were collected. Was it well-conducted, convincing study? How could the study be improved to make the findings more convincing? Think about what makes a good study: large sample size, double blind, no biases, timeline etc.
- Take the facts you found during research (remembering how reliable you just decided they were) and form your own opinion on the answer to the question. Since chance is always a possibility, I would stay away from 100% absolutely definite conclusions. It’s also okay to say that you’re still unsure what conclusions to draw given the available data!
- Remember that Andrew intends for the blogs to spark comments. A good blog leaves its readers with something to think about and respond to.
I really hope this clarifies some things for you guys. Please never hesitate to comment on this blog or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you might have. Happy blogging!