- Class Number 3314
- Term Code 3140
- Class Info
- Unit Value 6 units
- Mode of Delivery In Person
- Dr Merryn McKinnon
- Dr Merryn McKinnon
- Class Dates
- Class Start Date 12/04/2021
- Class End Date 12/07/2021
- Census Date 30/04/2021
- Last Date to Enrol 12/04/2021
This course examines the roles and relationships between science, the media and society. Topics covered include:
- The style in which science is reported in the media, and how this is influenced by external, contextual factors
- How to effectively communicate science using the media
- An in–depth research project on a chosen topic of interest that analyses the coverage and treatment of science in the media and society.
This is a skills-based course, the aim of which is to train students in the production of material suitable for publication or broadcast in the popular media. Students will have opportunities to practice the skills of this course in ‘real life settings’ gaining valuable industry experience and contacts. The major research project is a combination of individual and group work, with the option of submitting the final work to a professional, peer reviewed journal for consideration for publication.
This course is co-taught with undergraduate students but assessed separately.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Identify and apply the processes involved in getting an issue into the media.
- Apply the basics of print media production.
- Discuss, and where appropriate explain, current issues in journalism.
- Differentiate the communication needs of various audiences.
- Evaluate the suitability of topics for different media, and examine and select appropriate background material for a story.
This course encompasses the four main aspects of research-led teaching. There is a focus on research content; the curriculum is structured around the existing body of literature in the field and the core theoretical understandings. Students are encouraged to actively critique and reflect upon the literature in their own analyses of science in the media. This provides students with a sense of the research process and problems as the course examines how the ‘treatment’ of science in the media has changed over time, and how the concept of ‘best practice’ has also evolved. The course also contains a core element of research process, as students are required to undertake their own original research project, with the opportunity to try to publish their work in peer-reviewed journals.
Students will require access to a computer and the internet to successfully complete this course.
Recommended student system requirements
ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:
- video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
- two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
- email and other messaging tools for communication
- interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
- print and photo/scan for handwritten work
- home-based assessment.
To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:
- A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
- Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
- Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
- Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
- Printing, and photo/scanning equipment
For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements
Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
- written comments
- verbal comments
- feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc
ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.
Where an assignment is formed of a number of activities, the date range indicates the due date for the first component and the return date of the final component. Further information is provided in the assessment section of the class summary, and details are provided on the course wattle site.
|Week/Session||Summary of Activities||Assessment|
|1||What is media||Related to assessment tasks 1, 2, 3, 4|
|2||News values & hard news||Related to assessment tasks 2, 3, 4|
|3||Plain English||Related to assessment tasks 1, 2, 3, 4|
|4||Framing||Related to assessment tasks 1, 4|
|5||Communication plans & media releases||Related to assessment tasks 1, 3|
|6||Social media||Related to assessment tasks 1, 3|
|7||Soft news, editing and infographics||Related to assessment task 1, 3|
|8||Tutorial - major assessment tasks||Related to assessment task 1|
|9||Reporting controversies||Related to assessment tasks 1, 4|
|10||Ethics, society and the future|
|Assessment task||Value||Due Date||Return of assessment||Learning Outcomes|
|Major Assessment Task||50 %||12/05/2021||26/07/2021||1, 2, 3, 4, 5|
|Writing assignment||20 %||20/04/2021||04/05/2021||1, 2, 4, 5|
|Promotion assessment task||30 %||25/05/2021||08/06/2021||1, 2, 3, 4, 5|
* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details
ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:
- Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure
- Special Assessment Consideration Policy and General Information
- Student Surveys and Evaluations
- Deferred Examinations
- Student Complaint Resolution Policy and Procedure
The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.
Moderation of Assessment
Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.
This course is delivered intensively from 9am to 5pm on the specified course dates (12 - 16 April) and will be delivered both on campus at CPAS (in Peter Baume Building 42a) and online. The sessions held on campus will be delivered in accordance with the COVIDSafe guidelines. All students - whether in person or online - will require a computer to participate fully in class. These sessions are a combination of both theory and practical exercise, and attendance during this week is necessary to gain the information you will need to successfully complete the assessment tasks. Please speak to the lecturer prior to the intensive week of teaching if you are unable to attend the majority of the sessions.
Assessment Task 1
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Major Assessment Task
Individual or group research on an agreed topic analyzing an aspect of science, the media and public perception. This can be completed individually or in a group. In groups of not more than four, examine an agreed topic individually, combining work and results to form one larger project. If the group wants, this can be developed as a journal article for potential publication. This is voluntary and you will have the opportunity to change your mind about publication. The decision to work individually or in a group must be made before submission of the proposal.
You may choose any scientific topic that interests you. You could examine the framing of the stories, the sources used, compare the coverage of issues in the mainstream media with what aspects are being discussed in social media (i.e. Twitter) or ‘non-mainstream’ media (i.e. New Matilda, The Conversation) or some variation of these. This can be discussed at length in class and/or as required. Examples are provided on Wattle of published papers that take some of these approaches. There is also further information on Wattle about what I am looking for and what each section should ‘do’ and include.
The writing part
There are two main parts to this assessment task, and the weighting varies dependent upon whether you are submitting as an individual or part of a group. You can change your mind about whether you submit as an individual or not, and if you want to try and get published or not, up until the proposal is due. You can continue to work as a group, without attempting to get published.
Please note there are two activities associated with this task with individual due dates:
***Part 1 – The Proposal. Due 12th May, 2021***
Length – 10 pages (preferably including references) plus ethics proposal for those groups (or individuals but this is not encouraged) wishing to pursue a publication. Ten pages is the UPPER MAXIMUM – if you can do it in fewer pages without large gaps or inconsistencies then this is encouraged…and appreciated!
The proposal should be a literature review of your chosen topic area and the equivalent of a method section in a scientific report. You are expected to give a comprehensive overview of the research that has been conducted in this area and to justify why your chosen ‘angle’ is addressing a gap in the knowledge. You must also justify your methodological decisions.
***Part 2 – The final report. Due 12th July, 2021***
Length – 20 pages (10 from proposal, 10 to write up results, discussion and conclusion) – again, 20 pages includes references (preferably) and is the UPPER MAXIMUM.
You are expected to have collected data or conducted some form of original research for this section of the report. This may consist of a content analysis of a particular media or outlet, public opinion survey, or some combination. Your chosen method should have been justified in your proposal. For those working in GROUPS the expectation is that your report will represent the work of four complete individuals, not of four people who have done a quarter of the work. You are expected to combine your research to form a larger data set. For example an individual conducting a survey on topic X might have a sample size of 50. A group conducting a survey on topic X would be expected to have a sample size of about 200.
There is absolutely no need for an individual report to resemble a sub thesis! Please check the size and scope of your project with Merryn prior to submitting your proposal if you are unsure.
The final report should clearly present your research findings and discuss/interpret your findings based on the literature. You are expected to compare your findings with the relevant available literature and draw implications and recommendations for future research. You are encouraged to “think internationally” in writing your results. You may have chosen an Australian topic, so consider what the relevance of your research may be to an international audience. What elements could apply in their own cultural context? What aspects of your topic could be adopted, adapted or explored in other countries?
Marking Criteria Part 1
· Well written, easy to read, minimal jargon
· Excellent spelling, punctuation, grammar
· Comprehensive literature review drawing from relevant examples, especially those published in peer-reviewed publications
· Appropriate, well justified research approach
· Appropriate, well justified research method
Marking Criteria Part 2
· Well written, easy to read, minimal jargon
· Excellent spelling, punctuation, grammar
· Results are presented clearly and appropriately
· Tables and graphs, if used, are labelled correctly
· Discussion is clear and incisive, effectively drawing upon the existing literature to support findings or refute existing state of knowledge
· Significance of results to the wider media/scientific/academic/science communication field
· Limitations identified and acknowledged (if appropriate)
· Recommendations for future research
· Consistent and accurate referencing throughout paper*
*For those planning to try to get their work published, they are strongly encouraged to identify a potential journal and present their final report according to their chosen journal’s author guidelines which include directions on formatting and which referencing style should be used.
Page limit: Part 1 = 10 pages; Part 2 = 20 pages (which includes part 1)
For a group = 10% For an individual = 25%
Why is this so different? This proposal section, if done in a group, represents about two and a half pages of writing per person, and then the ethics application (if data collection involves talking to or surveying people) – much of which is a copy and paste of the material from the proposal document itself. For an individual, they are writing all ten pages by themselves, so this represents half of their final report.
For a group = 40% For an individual = 25%
Groups have a greater weighting for this part as they must consolidate their data and perform analyses on a larger data set. They must also consolidate their findings and interpretation so the final report reads as one ‘voice’. This part of the project represents a much larger investment of their time and effort, so is weighted accordingly.
Assessment Task 2
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 4, 5
In this assignment you must choose one recent journal article (published within the last 12 months) and turn it into a news story of approximately 250-350 words.
Please also include a 200-300 description of what you did to research and write this story.
? Choosing a suitable topic: Is the paper you have chosen recent and the findings interesting to a general reader? How do you know it is interesting (hint – what makes it news)?
? Effective explanation: You need to identify the substance of the research and explain the science clearly, presenting it accurately
? Appropriate style (upside down triangle): This is your opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the news style. You need to include the relevant items (who, what, where, when, why and how)
? Clear expression and flow: This relates to the readability of your writing, whether you have proofread the work, and whether you have correctly pitched the story to the audience.
? Attribution: Identifying the journal and/or the researchers (so the reader can track down the source). Any quotes are appropriately attributed to the speaker and/or the source of the quote.
? Short and catchy pull out: Taken straight from the text of the news article, it ‘grabs’ the reader
|Topic choice 2||Appropriate style 5||Effective explanation of the science 5||Attribution 2||Clear expression and flow 4||Short and catchy pull out 2|
Assessment Task 3
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Promotion assessment task
For this assessment task you will be asked to develop a communication plan and appropriate material to promote an event for National Science Week in the ACT. Or, you can choose a different event altogether – please check your event choice with Merryn prior to starting.
***Science Circus students you may wish to use this assessment to prepare a media strategy for a base town or tour when you are in the media team.***
You are allowed to use whatever merchandise and strategies you see fit, so long as you have clearly identified the resources required in your communication plan. You must CLEARLY identify which media channels you are using. Stating ‘newspapers’ as an outlet is not acceptable and you will be marked down accordingly.
What you must include:
· A brief overview of what you are going to promote (ie a single event or the whole week)
· The objective of your communication plan
· Your target audience/s is/are clearly identified
· A press release
· A communication plan
· At least three (3) of the following - brochures, posters, invitations, postcards, websites, sample tweets, sample content for Facebook posts, blog entries etc.
You are judged on content and clarity of the message, not your design or artwork skills. I look at placement of information and font size and how easily read & understood your materials are, and if they fit their purpose in communicating to their intended audience.
What you are NOT expected to include or do:
· Provide budgets or any form of itemised costs or staffing
· Develop a website (a mock up of the front page is fine but nothing more!)
· Produce and edit a video
· Actually run the event!
If you are unsure about any aspect of this assessment task please check with Merryn.
As a guide the word count for the comms plan should be no longer than 2,500 - 3,000 words.
Work can be presented in any format you choose (hard copy or electronic or a mixture). Grading will be based on:
· Evidence of understanding (and application of understanding) of how to develop a communication plan
o This includes the level of detail required (see notes above)
· Appropriateness of promotional materials for identified purpose and target audience
o Your target audience must be reflected in your chosen channels for communication (i.e. media outlets). Are you using appropriate media for your target audience?
· Clarity of key message and how effectively this is reinforced through materials
· Quality of press release writing. Aspects considered will be:
o newsworthiness of release
o writing style (active voice, inverted pyramid structure, use of quotes, clarity)
o Correct press release layout
|Communication plan 7||Key message 4||Press release 7||Diversity of materials 5||Appropriateness of materials 4||Campaign effectiveness 3|
Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.
The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.
The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.
You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.
For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.
Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item.
Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.
Assignments will be returned within two weeks of submission
Extensions and Penalties
Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.
Distribution of grades policy
Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.
Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.
Support for students
The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
- ANU Health, safety & wellbeing for medical services, counselling, mental health and spiritual support
- ANU Diversity and inclusion for students with a disability or ongoing or chronic illness
- ANU Dean of Students for confidential, impartial advice and help to resolve problems between students and the academic or administrative areas of the University
- ANU Academic Skills and Learning Centre supports you make your own decisions about how you learn and manage your workload.
- ANU Counselling Centre promotes, supports and enhances mental health and wellbeing within the University student community.
- ANUSA supports and represents undergraduate and ANU College students
- PARSA supports and represents postgraduate and research students
Dr Merryn McKinnon
Dr Merryn McKinnon