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Biology 327: Conservation Biology

A guide for Professor Koontz' Conservation Biology course.

Resources for Conservation Ted Talk

Conveying scientific information to the general public is done very differently from how research or review articles convey information. Often times the best way to learn how to effectively convey your information and your message is to find examples written (or spoken) by other authors and analyze how they have constructed their arguments. As you examine popular sources, consider the following: 


  • What technique(s) does the author use to immediately grab your attention? 
  • How do they leverage the title or image(s) to immediately convey their message? 
  • How specific do they get about where their information comes from or how it is obtained? 
  • How do they introduce data? 
  • How technical is the language? 

Finding Anecdotal Evidence

One of the greatest tools you can use to effectively convey science to the general public is to find a way to connect what you are saying to a real-world story. Many authors use anecdotal evidence or personal accounts to make their arguments more convincing and to more effectively communicate why the reader/listener should care about the topic. 


Consider using the following: 

  • Twitter
    Many scientists, especially those who are active in lobbying for social change, will use their social media accounts to reach the general public. Try seeing if you can locate accounts of any of the scientists whose research you are encountering as you search. You can also use Twitter's Advanced Search feature to search for specific keywords. You can use any tweets or other postings you find as anecdotal stories in your talk. 
  • Look for interviews with a particular scientist or with someone who has been affected by the topic you are discussing. YouTube, as well as regular news sources, can be an excellent way to locate interviews with parties involved. Podcasts are also a growing means for scientists to share their experiences with the general public.  

Finding Photos

Including images / visual elements into your slides can prove to be a powerful way to emphasize the point you are trying to make. They can also grab the attention of your audience from the start of your talk. You will want to do your best to find images that you are allowed to use in your talks. The links here will be a good place to start. 

  • PixabayPixabay is a site comprised entirely of images that are in the public domain, meaning that the creators have made them available freely for you to use without worry about copyright. It is still polite to cite these sources, however. 
  • FlickrWhile not all of flickr's photographs are freely available for use, the site allows you to filter to a particular license. Try selecting "All Creative Commons Licenses" to find photos you have permission to use. Just be sure to cite the original creator. 
  • CCsearchFor additional photographs, try using CCSearch to help you locate photographs you have permission to use. 

Finding Opinions/ Values Pieces

As part of your assignment, you are being asked to bring in value/ normative aspects to your discussion of your topic (i.e. justice, fairness, responsibility, others' viewpoints, etc.). One of the best ways to do this is to consult opinion pieces that have been written by others, as these will generally address such aspects. 

Important Note: An opinion does not always equate to fact. You will want to use your best scientific judgement to determine the extent to which an opinion piece is worth including in your argument. If anything, you can use these sources as an opportunity to hear what someone with an alternative opinion thinks about the topic, and then use your scientific literature to prove/disprove their statements. 


Finding Popular Press Resources

The library has both print and electronic subscriptions to a number of different popular sources of information - most notably newspapers and magazines. The links below will help you to gain access to the electronic resources we subscribe to. Please note that if you try to access these through Google, you will likely hit a paywall and be asked for a subscription. Using the library's links allows you to bypass this. 

You can also use the library's OneSearch function and limit your results to simply magazines or newspapers to also find these popular press sources. 

Finding Data

While much of the data you will want to consider using will come from the review and research articles you consult, the library does have several databases where you can find additional data to use in your arguments. Below are listed a variety of sources, and you will want to read the descriptions of each to determine which will be useful to your individual topics. 

Finding Review / Primary Research Article

The overwhelming majority of your information will be coming from both review and primary literature articles. Understanding the differences between the two types of articles can help you to better identify them when you encounter them. 


Primary Articles, often called "research" articles, are the results of original research done by the author(s). Usually they will describe an experiment, survey, or study done by the authors and provide their raw data and their conclusions. 


Review Articles, on the other hand, are written about other research and articles. They do not cover the original research done by the author. These tend to be secondhand accounts of results, and look for patterns between different research studies or recurrent themes/theories. They will often state outright in their abstracts that they have "reviewed" studies. 


You will want to use the library's OneSearch box to search for articles, but it will be up to you to determine if you have found a review article or a primary research article. The video below will give you a refresher in how to use OneSearch if you would like to review. 

Article from Class