Discipline of Biology Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1767 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 15  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Biology

¶ … discipline of biology is very broad in scope; it spans the entirety of the human race and can only be described as the study of life. It encompasses a broad spectrum of academic fields that most view as independent disciplines in and of themselves. In the following discussion, we will look at what resources are available for the field of biology and how credible such sources are for the discussion of biological discoveries. There are over one million papers published in the field on a wide array of biological and medicinal journals annually. The key factor with the credibility of biology research is an understanding of the motivation behind the research conducted. According to Dr. Kawasatu of the University of Tokyo, "it is much harder to determine the credibility of biological research, purely based on the number of publications every year. Hidden agendas are evident in a variety of disciplines; only close scrutiny into the details of research statistics can reveal biases." The key issue within identifying accurate sources for biological research is that such avenues for publications are too numerous to fully understand. Sources within the field of biology include journals, websites, online-forums, popular science publications, email listings, university professors, researchers, corporations, and many other venues. The below analysis will look at several categories of such research.

The first step to beginning research within the field of biology is at the nation's premier universities. Educational institutions such as Harvard, Cornell, University of California, San Diego, University of Chicago, etc. are just a few that have made profound affects on biology. Once a professor or researcher have made significant discoveries within the field, they will naturally gravitate towards these esteemed universities to conduct further research. Biology research within the university are not completely unbiased however, there are several problems associated with the credibility of such research. The majority of funding for biology research comes from institutions, governments, and private grants. These grants are issued on a theme basis, where biologists must present a cohesive idea for presentation. As a result, many biologists base their research on the premise of specific institutions or agencies that provide them grants. This is especially noticeable in the wake of global warming, where competing agencies and organizations attempt to influence research by preparing grants for various researchers around the world. The most important factor in determining the credibility of university sources is to understand the fundamentals of the data collected. Biology is much harder to manipulate than other sciences, because the data collected is very concrete. Although many attempt to frame research in different ways, the raw data is what peers look for when examining the credibility of research. When one wants to start research on a particular area within the biological sciences, the necessary first step is to consult with a university professor specializing in the field. he/she will have a strong understanding of the literature necessary to begin understanding the nuances of the discipline.

Journals are the most popular medium for biological research. Almost all biology journals require their articles to be "peer reviewed," by definition this means that such journal articles are "constructively criticized and understood by the extended scientific community." Once a journal article is officially published, the common understanding is that at least three other scholars have thoroughly examined the claims made within the article and approved it for publication. One such popular biology journal is called "PLos Biology," this is a peer reviewed journal published by the Public library of Science on a monthly basis. Some of the most influential and groundbreaking research within the field of biology are published in each trimester. Many times, journals will republish articles that have already surfaced in smaller journals, the intent is that such articles gain international acclaim and come to the attention of other scholars within the field. This practice was very common in the early 20th century, but with the spread of the internet and instantaneous communication, there is much less of a need for such practices. One example of such a journal is the "International Journal of Biological Sciences." This journal is regarded as the most complete compilation of significant biological publications within any given bi-monthly period. Articles of significance from various countries are compiled together and presented to the community in general.

Although journals are the most popular medium by which new and groundbreaking research is revealed, the majority of such publications are seeped in field specific terminology and extremely hard to digest. Therefore, several other alternatives exist for non-specialists of specific disciplines to gain a broader and simpler understanding of biology disciplines. These sources take on two specific types, popular science journals and books. Popular science journals are a much more interesting and literary source of biology information than peer-reviewed journals. Such articles are written so that they can be digested by lay-men as well as biology professionals. One of the most recognized publications is "Perspectives in Biology and Medicine." Presents research in both biology and medicine in very coached terms and applies them specifically to a wider audience than traditional peer reviewed journals. On its website, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine explains that its mission statement is to "present articles of current interest in medicine and biology in a context of humanistic, social and scientific concerns." The vision of popular science journals is to coach biological developments in the context of social concerns and applicable impacts. Therefore, it grants a direction for newly discovered research to have a real global impact. The problem with such publications is that they can be framed in different contexts that may be severely biased. Since articles within popular science journals are not peer reviewed they often contain unwarranted assertions and extensions of arguments that deviate from the author's primary intent. As a result, they are much less trustworthy because the majority of these articles have a hidden agenda.

Books are another powerful driver of biology information. Books are primarily written by biology professionals to recap a specific science and to present a detailed contextual understanding of the spectrum of research within a certain field as well as the integration of new research within the field. Books are an excellent source of information on biology topics because they are much more in-depth than journal articles. They present the history of particular research and often will fill in the gaps of how modern research has been built upon the research of the past. One of the most popular general biology books for instance is titled "Biology, Visualizing Life" by Dr. George B. Johnson. This book is used as a text book in many different universities, although it was originally published as a general overview of the biological discipline. The shortcoming of books within this field however is that they are extremely hard to update, and as a result they do not accurately represent new information within the field nearly as accurately as journals. Books can provide a full picture of the scientific developments within biology, but it is not nearly as cutting edge as journal articles, because it takes much longer to develop a book. Therefore books can be used to gain a contextual understanding of major themes and areas of research within biology, but are poor providers of current information regarding a specific field or discipline within biology.

A final source of crucial information within the biological sciences exists within established websites on biology. There are many different categories of websites on biology, the three primary ones consist of university hosted websites, organization websites, and perspectives websites. University websites are hosted through universities; they include websites such as the MIT Biology Hypertextbook. This website is sponsored by MIT, and it is filled with detailed information about every discipline of biology, with collections of articles, references, research journals from a variety of highly credible sources. The second category consists of organization websites, these websites are sponsored by larger organizations focused in biology.

The American Society of Cell Biology is one example of such a resource; this website is hosted by the ASCB, which has annual publications as well as its online website. These websites contain a republication of their printed material and also supplementary research and additional articles that were not available within their general issue. The final source of websites is perspective websites, this website focus primarily on a multitude of perspectives within biology. They are much less objective and focuses on defending a particular issue, they are often also called position websites. An example is the website "Understanding Stem Cell Research," this website provides a portal for information on stem cell research, but all of it is focused on the benefits of stem cell research, making a strong stance on their opinion of such research.

There are many different methods to conduct research on the broad topic of biology. Many times there is no right or wrong answer regarding where to look for such sources. When discussing an in-depth topic that is on the cutting edge of biology… [END OF PREVIEW]

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