The topic I would like to research is stability in ecosystems.
Begin by exploring several possibilities, such as types of organisms that interest you, their roles in their communities, and the ecosystems in which they live. Find out what kinds of research have been done on your topic or a similar topic. This will help you narrow your focus and make decisions about the problem and scientific questions you want to study. As you explore possible topics of interest, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the topic of current scientific interest?
- Is it relevant to you, your future, or your community?
- Does it have identifiable problems that need to be solved or questions that need to be answered?
- Does it foster different or conflicting points of view that are currently being argued?
- Does it cause you to ask scientific questions that might lead to testable hypotheses?
- Can it be investigated or tested using materials you have access to?
Also begin looking for sources of scientific information about the organisms, communities, or ecosystems. These sources must be authoritative and provide research-based, scientific information, data, and viewpoints. Before using any source in planning and completing your project, you must evaluate whether the source is credible and identify the type of bias it is likely to have. You can include sources with weak credibility or bias, but you must acknowledge those known weaknesses and biases.
Consider Your Options
As you decide on a topic, think about the three options for the type of project you can conduct. Carefully consider whether you will be able to explore that topic through an original investigation. Will you be able to obtain and work with the materials needed for an experiment? Do you have access to an appropriate place to conduct an experiment? If not, you should avoid option A and choose either option B or option C. Then you can decide what type of research to conduct, which will determine the type of written product you will submit at the end of the semester. Finally, you will discuss your choices with your teacher and obtain permission to proceed with your project.
Part 1 Assignment
Begin your project by completing the following steps:
1. Choose a scientific topic that can be explored through original research or a review of scientific and/or technical literature. Describe your topic and why you chose it. (3 points)
2. Identify at least two initial sources of authoritative, research-based, scientific information, data, and viewpoints. List the citations for your sources using proper American Psychological Association (APA) style. [Example: Author’s last name, initials (publication year). Title of the article. Name of the Source, volume number (issue number), page numbers.] (2 points)
3. Investigate the credibility of each initial source and determine whether it is accurate and unbiased. Ask and answer the following questions to evaluate the credibility and reliability of a source:
- What is the purpose of the source of the article? (It should be documenting scientific research rather than reporting news, providing entertainment, or marketing products.)
- Is the source current? (It should have been written in the recent past.)
- Who was the article written for? (It should be for scientists, educators, or students rather than for the general public.)
- Is the article in-depth (more than a page or two) and formatted in a scientific style?
- What is the reputation of the source? (It should be scholarly, peer-reviewed, nonpolitical, noncommercial, and impartial — not biased.)
- Who are the authors, and what are their credentials? (The names of the authors should be cited. The authors should be recognized experts in science. For example, they may be affiliated with academic or professional institutions, and their academic degrees or job titles may be given in the article byline.)
- Does the article contain misspellings or use words or phrases to influence thought or opinion?
- Does the article provide supporting documentation? (It should contain charts and graphs of data and illustrations, as well as several cited references to credible sources.)
Write an annotation (sentence or paragraph of information) for each of your initial sources. Each annotation should summarize the purpose of the source, evaluate its credibility, and explain how it will help you in planning and completing your project. (4 points)
4. Decide what type of research to conduct, which will determine the type of written product you will deliver at the end of the semester. Describe the type of project you want to complete and the basic steps you will follow. (1 point)
5. Develop at least three variations of a scientific question related to your topic. Write your questions and annotate each one, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each question. (3 points)
6. Present your scientific topic, initial sources and annotations, and variations of your scientific question to your teacher for discussion and approval. Adjust your topic, scientific questions, or project type based on your teacher’s feedback. Record the main points of your discussion and any adjustments you made. Then obtain your teacher’s permission to proceed. (5 points)
7. Identify the type of written product you will deliver at the end of the project, and briefly describe the parts of that product. (2 points)