Comparing Two Health/Science articles with context research into epigenetics

Date due: Completed paper due: Wednesday, July 15

Length: 850-1200 words

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Rhetorical Type: Comparison


to demonstrate library research skills on a brief subject related to readings,
to demonstrate writing techniques common to comparison or contrasting viewpoints
to demonstrate use of evidence to substantiate a position, and to demonstrate synthesis of multiple viewpoints
to demonstrate mastery of the conventions of written English
Conceptual Framework: New research has shown that many factors influence human behavior in addition to the well-known categories: genetics, upbringing, and the social, historical, geographic, and political environments of our formative years.

Structure: You will be comparing two articles: Kathleen Macauliffe’s “Is Your Cat Making You Crazy?” and Nicola Davis’ “Human Biome” Your thesis should set out the terms of the comparisons, ie the categories that you feel are most relevant to a comparison (or to a contrast between the two).

The categories may be tone, presumed audience, depth of scientific data, use of scientific citations and references, level of fear or concern raised in the reader, or other categories. You need to cite fairly extensively from each source, using the MLA citation system, or hyperlinks, in order to provide evidence for your claims..

You will also need to build a broad context introduction, by first referring to the full range of things that affect us: biological (DNA) , the parenting we receive, the experiences we have had, our culture, religion, class and geographic area of our early years, and the influences of epigenetics.

Fully develop 5-7 paragraphs for this paper.


Step one: Read the articles. Make notes about your initial reaction (disbelief, for instance or if you find yourself very persuaded, make note of the things that were most persuasive for you. Remember, you only get one chance to map your initial reactions, and these are very useful when trying to analyze the effectiveness of an essay, book or article. For a paper of this sort, you will often need to read the articles more than once!

Step two: Create a chart of similarities and differences, using 6-10 categories that you have devised. A good way to do this is to simply note a technique used in one article and then look in the other article to see it is also used. I have given you an example below of “scientific evidence.” Both articles use scientific evidence but they use that evidence quite differently.

Chart for examining similarities and differences:


Macauliffe aritcle (How your Cat is Making You Crazy)

Davis article (Human Biome)

Use of scientific evidence


Six scientists are quoted, both supporters of Flegrs’ theory and doubters. Article gives lengthy passages about the actual biological processes at work in infected animals.

The scientists quoted, like Cyan, typically are speaking very generally about the human biome, but the article does link to high level scientific studies, like from Nature (Links to an external site.)magazine, which allows the reader interested in more scientific detail to read the source articles. There are no alternate opinions about the human biome in the article.

Use of scientific evidence (similarities) Scientists are quoted . Scientists are quoted.
Step three: Organize your ideas by trying cluster two or three related categories in a single body paragraph (this will require that you devise an “umbrella category” for the two or three ideas).

Step four: Do an outline which identifies the topic and the major evidence for each body paragraph.

Step five: Review some of the handy transition words for comparison papers .

Step six: write an introduction to the paper,

Provide a broad context which talks about the various factors who influence who we are, perhaps historically (how has it changed over time) (1-5 sentences).
Introduce and briefly summarizing the two articles (including authors’ names and publisher)
Your overall judgement of the two articles
and then , generally at the end of the first paragraph, the thesis statement–which outlines the categories by which the two articles will be examined. This is a courtesy to your reader, so that he or she can easily identify and follow your argument (your claim or set of claims) about the two articles
Step seven: Conclude the essay. You may want to make some general comments about differences in audience appeal of various types of writing about science and health. For this paper you will do do a meta-analysis by looking at keyword searches in a library database. (this information may be used in the intro, the conclusion, or the body of your essay)

Please refer to the Vlecture: library search instruction video in order to do a meta-analysis) to see when Human biome, for instance, became a common subject. This can help you understand the “historical” (ie through time) dimension of brain parasites, pet vector diseases, and the gut biome.

Reminder: Special requirements:

1. In the broad context section of your introduction, you will need to summarize the well-known drivers of behavior including epigenetics. Do independent research into the concept of epigenetics and include this somewhere in your paper–probably introduction, but possibly the conclusion

2. Do a quick search of key terms (T. gondi or human biome AND epigenetics) in library database in order to say something brief about the changes over time. Use this metadata analysis in your conclusion. Here is an example of a metadata analysis on another subject.

The concept that mass incarceration of people of color constitutes a form of legalized discrimination is relatively new. While the Epscohost data base shows 5066 entries for mass incarceration in total, only 887 articles or letters to the editor were published about mass incarceration for the 30 years up until 2008. It is almost certain that Michelle Alexander’s best-selling book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness had a great deal to do with the flood of new research and commentary on the failures of the criminal justice system.

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