The Step-by-Step Guide

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The Step-by-Step Guide Powered By Docstoc
					    Goffs School




Science Department




The Step-by-Step Guide
     to writing a
 Successful Case Study
What is a Case Study?
        This is a written assignment about an issue related to your science studies.
        It should be related to an aspect of science that involves an element of controversy.
        Topics for study should be selected by students in discussion with teachers
        It counts as 20% towards your GCSE



        13%
    Data Analysis

          20%
        Case Study                                              67%
                                                                Exams




Step 1: Choose a title
The title you choose must be a question that people can hold different views about.
Below is a list of suggestions; you can choose one of these or one of your own.

        Is sunbathing harmful?
        Are food dyes really necessary?
        Is the Atkins diet good for you?
        Should we grow GM crops?
        Should human cloning be allowed?
        Should therapeutic cloning be allowed?
        Who is to blame for obesity?
        Should we limit fish catches?
        Can we protect against asteroid strikes?
        Should people be allowed to live near volcanoes?
        Are wind-farms a good way to make electricity?
        Should nuclear power be banned?
        Are mobile phones bad for your health?
         Is genetic counselling ethical?
        Should abortion be legal?
        Should cannabis be legalised?
        Should under-16s be able to use sunbeds?
        Should speed cameras be banned?
        Should pre-implantation genetic diagnosis be allowed?


REMEMBER: your title must be about a science issue – avoid topics where the main points
are just social or ethical

           CHECK WITH YOUR TEACHER BEFORE YOU GO ANY FURTHER

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Step 2: Make a list of what science you need to find out for your
        title.
         This will include:
         a) What science facts would people need to know to be able to understand your
             work?
         b) What evidence should you have to back up the science?
         c) What diagrams/ tables/ graphs would help to explain the science?

If you are not sure where to start, ask your teacher or look at the examples below to get
the idea:


Title: Is the use of mobile phones dangerous?

You need to consider at least these points:

        Mobile phone ownership by under 18's
        Typical hours used (survey to assist but do not make this a major issue)
        Benefits of mobile phone use
        Electromagnetic spectrum – which part is used by phones
        How a mobile phone sends & receives signals
        Booster stations/masts
        Wavelengths/frequencies of signals
        Intensities of signals
        Effect of these frequencies on human tissues esp. brain tissue
        Heating & cell damage effects – cancerous growth following irradiation
        Effects on memory from mobile use
        Avoid social issues in your discussions e.g. bullying, dating




Title: Should abortion be made illegal?

You need to consider at least these points:

        What is the medical definition of an abortion
        What different types of abortion are there
        What is the normal progress of a pregnancy
        When are abortions usually carried out
        Why are abortions usually carried out
        Evidence of numbers of abortions
        Physical effects of abortion
        Psychological effects of abortion
        Avoid getting sidetracked on the ethical considerations – this should
         be only a small part of your study




    YOU WILL FIND MORE EXAMPLES OF WHERE TO START IN THE STARTER NOTES FROM YOUR
                                      TEACHER

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Step 3: Do the research

Using your list from step 2, carry out your research. Information should be obtained
from a range of sources, such as:

       Your science textbook and exercise books
       Other textbooks in the library or science department
       Leaflets from organisations e.g. doctor’s surgeries, libraries
       The Internet – THIS CAN GIVE A LOT OF EXCELLENT INFORMATION, BUT USE IT
        WITH CARE. CHUNKS OF TEXT SIMPLY CUT AND PASTED FROM WEB SITES
        WILL NOT BE ACCEPTABLE – YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS INCLUDED
        IN YOUR CASE STUDY. Your teacher will advise you on suitable websites to use.
        A good starting point for any topic is:

           o http://www.bbc.co.uk

When searching using Google or other search engine, it is a good idea to click the
‘pages from the UK’ button to filter out a lot of useless hits

ALSO:
    Make a note of how reliable you think each of these sources are
           E.g. the BBC website can be considered reliable since they are a well
             established organisation that is answerable to the public for the service it
             provides BUT a website set up by a company selling sunbeds [for instance]
             would be biased since they are interested in you using or buying their
             products. You could still use information from such a site but be aware it
             may be biased.
    Every time you get information it is vital that you make a note of the book title,
      web address or other information that would allow some-one else to find the same
      information
    Do not copy images that are just decorative and do not give information, e.g. if
      you are researching abortion it is very easy to find plenty of very distressing
      pictures of aborted foetuses – these are NOT what should be included. You need
      diagrams on the abortion process, graphs or tables about numbers of abortions
      etc.
    Try not to let your own opinions influence your research at this stage

 IF YOU FIND ANY INFORMATION DURING YOUR RESEARCH THAT
     DISTURBS OR UPSETS YOU, SPEAK TO A PARENT OR YOUR
                    TEACHER IMMEDIATLEY



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Step 4: From my research, what evidence is there to support each
        view point about my title?

Your title is one that people can have different points of view about; they may support
the question or not.

Examples:
Title: Is the use of mobile phones dangerous?

Which parts of the scientific evidence support the idea that phones are dangerous?

                                                      AND

Which parts of the scientific evidence support the idea that phones are NOT dangerous?


THIS MUST BE FACTS AND FIGURES – NOT JUST OPINIONS




Title: Should abortion be made illegal?

Which parts of the scientific evidence support the idea that abortions should be legal?

                                                      AND

Which parts of the scientific evidence support the idea that abortions should NOT be legal?


THIS MUST BE FACTS AND FIGURES – NOT JUST OPINIONS




You will find most of this while you are doing your research in Step 2.
Decide which facts support each point of view




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Step 5: Start to put all this information together

1. Organise your information into the following 3 sections:

    a) The science needed to understand the case study
    b) Evidence that supports the title
    c) Evidence that supports the opposite view point


2. Type up these notes, including any diagrams or tables that are relevant [you can hand-write or
   word-process your work]. Make sure that any opinion or claim has some science to back it up from
   your research.

3. Write a conclusion. This should summarise the main points of the arguments for and against. Then
   write a paragraph that comes to a conclusion about the title based on the evidence.

4. Make a numbered list of all the sources you used. For each one make a comment on how reliable it
   was.

5. Add the source numbers to the text so that anyone can see where each bit of information came
   from.

6. Write a brief introduction to your case study. This should summarise what you have written about in
   the rest of the report.

7. Add page numbers to your work

8. Write a ‘Contents’ page with headings and page numbers

9. Make a title page

10. Get someone else to read through your case study to check for any errors in spelling, punctuation
    or grammar




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Step 6: Check you have done everything:
Case Study – Final Checklist:


1. Question being studied is clearly stated at the start                                
2. Pages are numbered and there is a contents page                                      
3. A brief introduction outlines what the report contains                               
4. I understand the science I have reported and not just copied stuff that looks good   
5. Most of the pictures I have used are informative and not just decorative             
6. I have included facts and figures [including tables and graphs]                      
7. I have numbered the references and put these numbers in the text where relevant      
8. I have summarised each argument in my conclusion without being biased                
9. I have made it clear which things are just opinions and which are facts              
       OR I have commented on how reliable my sources of information may be             
10. I and someone else have read it through to check punctuation, spelling & grammar    

Final deadline date ……………………………………………………………………….



                                 Question being studied

                                 Contents page

                                 Introduction

                                 Science behind your study

                                 Arguments for and against

                                 Conclusion

                                 References

                                 Glossary of terms [optional]




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      How your case study will be marked:                [maximum mark = 24]
Strand A: Quality of selection and use of information   Strand B: Quality of understanding of the case




Strand C Quality of conclusions
                                                        Strand D: Quality of presentation




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