|Democratising Science and Technology
What is an excellent essay?
An excellent essay will have provided an in-depth analysis of carefully selected and balanced sources from the academic and grey literatures
on a controversial scientific or technological issue. The issue can be centred on a specific country or region, such as the controversy around genetically modified potato in the EU. It could also be international, for example, the controversy surrounding the uncertainties associated with radioactive waste. Connect your analysis to at least one of the conceptual approaches discussed in the module (e.g., modernity and colonialism, incertitude and precaution, co-production and socio-technical imaginaries).
For an essay to gain a mark higher than 80, the analysis should be original in the sense that the same controversial scientific or technological issue should not have been analysed using the same concepts, in an existing study available in the academic literature. Additionally, you should have done a succinct literature review on the topic in question and clearly situated your analysis in the literature (e.g., by identifying a gap in the literature or by asking a novel research question). Finally, you should have consulted new references on your chosen conceptual approach, beyond the readings listed in the module handbook on that approach. You should forward critical observations and innovative conclusions based on your readings and findings, rather than repeating messages expressed in the lectures and seminars or other references.
An excellent literature review will have carefully selected the academic papers to be reviewed on the conceptual approach or empirical problem discussed in the module. For example, the review could focus on criticisms of a particular approach such as co-production or situated knowledges, followed by a possible response from the authors of the approaches critiqued. An excellent review should succinctly describe and scrutinize the central argument(s) of each paper reviewed and connect different papers’ arguments with each other. The review should be based on a close reading of at least 12 articles published in peer-reviewed journals. More than half of these should not be part of the core readings of the module.
For a literature review to achieve a mark higher than 80, it should direct a well-defined research question to the academic literature being reviewed. In addition, it should be based on the student’s original interpretation of the papers reviewed, highlighting key aspects of the papers’ arguments. In addition, connections between different studies made by the review should yield novel and interesting insights that are likely to have some political and policy relevance, particularly for democratizing science and technology.
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