Monthly Archives: October 2015

Journal Club – 4. Red Meat and Cancer.


By now you have probably become aware of the headlines linking red and processed meat with cancer. So we will have a closer look at this latest headline catching piece of research for our latest Journal Club. We will meet on Friday 13th November to discuss it. There is a fair bit of reading to do so start early.

The first place to start is with the published paper. However it hasn’t been published yet (this blog was written the day after it made all the news headlines). What we do have is a ‘News Article’ published in the Lancet which you can find below. Start with this article and ask the following questions. What is the big picture? What work does this article build upon? Has it added anything new to the area? From the details given, how confident are you about the claims made? How confident are the authors about the claims made? Should it have been released ahead of the full paper?

Red meat and cancer

Now read the press release and make notes on how accurately it reflects the summary article. It also contains a useful link to a Q&A session on this work which you should look at.

Red meat press release

Finally, have a look at the media reporting of this story. I have provided 2 links but I encourage you to find other examples and share them with us.  Do these articles accurately represent the research? Do they understand the research? Do they help us to understand the research? Do they have their own agenda?

Since our last Journal Club meeting on Sugar causing Diabetes I’d just moved from my 2 slices of toast smothered in jam alongside a glass of breakfast orange to a bacon sandwich and a cup of Bovril. What am I supposed to do now!?


Acids, Bases and Salts Research

11954219911140919487h0us3s_Sign_danger_corrosive.svg.hiYour job is to prepare a document containing the following information (word / powerpoint).
You have been given your specialty subject which will require extra detail and which you will present to the rest of the class! Aim to be thorough on this topic and include extra info if you can.

  • what is the definition of an acid?
  • what are the formulae of common acids (hydrochloric / sufuric / nitric)?
  • what types of salts do these different acids make?
  • what is a base?
  • what is an alkali?
  • what are the formulae of common alkalis (sodium hydroxide / potassium hydroxide / aqueous ammonia)?
  • describe the reaction of acids with metals
  • describe the reaction of acids with alkalis
  • describe the reactions of acids with bases
  • describe the reactions of acids with carbonates
  • describe the reactions of acids with ammonia

Please post your work below, highlighting your specialist area in the title of your work. Remember the lessons from Journal Club, to  use multiple sources of information, evaluate your sources and cite all sources.

Journal Club -3. Sugary drinks and the risk of Diabetes


Once again the standard of thought & discussion in the last meeting was very high. Well done to do those that attended or couldn’t attend but still posted on either the year-12 or year-13 blog. The focus of our next meeting is to take on board the views represented by Sumner at al that were discussed last time and apply them to the following piece of research work.

It seems fairly common sense that the more sugar you consume the greater the risk of diabetes is. It’s not really newsworthy and it should be straightforward to prove this. If you get your results published in the British Medical Journal then that should be that.

First of all I would like you to read the press release that accompanied the publication of a scientific paper. The purpose of a press release is to alert journalists to a potentially newsworthy piece of research. The thing to remember about the majority of journalists is that they are wannabe Scientists (Arts graduates) who will not read the original paper but just want to be told the facts and a bit of relevance so they can cut & paste their own story.

Here is the press release.

diabetes-drinks press release

You are journalist who has just received this press release (from the BMJ) and have no intention of reading the paper. What would your headline be? If you’ve been taking the ‘healthy’ option of diet drinks and fruit juice, should you be concerned? Is this a better angle for your story?

Now read the actual article published in the BMJ (the source of the article we looked at last time that told us how unhelpful / inaccurate scientific reporting and press releases could be)

Sugar & Diabetes

What is the purpose of this research?

Who conducted it? Do you trust them?

What is the main conclusion and is it justified?

What about the claims regarding artificially sweetened drinks and fruit juices?

Does the press release accurately reflect the paper? Give examples.

Finally, follow this link to the BMJ site containing this article and read the comments section.

Is everyone happy with this research? Who do you agree with? Could there be bias in these comments?

Remember that this is just to aid discussion and frame your thoughts. You can follow all, some or none of this list. The point of this is to stimulate thought and share ideas so PLEASE POST YOUR THOUGHTS BELOW prior to our next Journal Club meeting.