Science Learning Tip: Use research articles to understand current events

I recently got an email asking for my support in a call to ban pesticides that are harming bees. This was a science learning opportunity.

The email talked about a class of pesticides called neonics, reputed to be the cause of Sudden Colony Collapse Disorder. I took it upon myself to find the actual research before making a decision. This week's video shows my quest and where it led:

Doing your own primary-source research is a great science learning tip. It will help you in your academic studies and ultimately make you more knowledgeable and informed about the issue at hand.

For example, I was unable to find any research of any kind regarding "neonics." Fortunately, a quick Google revealed that it was a nickname for neonicotinoids.

Science learning begins with correct terminology.

You should try doing a bit of academic research on real issues that come up in your life. It's useful to read the latest research from primary sources. My favorite site for this kind of science learning is the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) because their articles can always be read for free. Check them out:
http://www.doaj.org/

I always use primary source materials when I teach, so all of my students are able to read these things eventually.

In general the best articles are peer-reviewed. This means that other experts in the same field have read the article and critiqued it. They may have pointed out flaws in the research or the reasoning.

If you're short on time/patience you can always just read the abstract.

If you want to read the actual articles that were published, here they are: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/336/6079/351.abstract
 http://www.sciencemag.org/content/336/6079/348.abstract

If science learning becomes just a mere memorization of facts and processes, then you're not really learning about science. There has to be a place for rigorous examination of the facts, followed by rigorous debate about the meaning of the facts.

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