Public Health

Scholarship as Conversation Case Study: Is Coffee a Super Food or Health Threat?

Frame: Scholarship as Conversation Context: Lesson presented in the context of a one-shot, 50-minute library instruction session, with course libguide containing the multimedia presentations used for the lesson, organized in either boxes or tabs. Appropriate supplementary instructional content can be added to the libguide as needed.Lesson:Librarian overview of the frame of “Scholarship as Conversation” and why it is relevant to the students and their academic work. Focus on regarding scholarship as not a static “truth” frozen in time, but a process whereby researchers are in a continuum of inquiry and within which variation in research results comprises a “scholarly conversation.”Present Youtube video produced by librarian Anna Eisen entitled “Research 101: Scholarship as Conversation” accessible at to introduce the threshold concept.Next, present an NPR episode of the podcast “The Hidden Brain: A Conversation about Life’s Unseen Patterns” hosted by Shankar Vedantam, entitled “Scientific Findings Often Fail To Be Replicated, Researchers Say” aired on NPR on August 28, 2015 (access at: Vedantam described a project headed by Dr. Brian Nosek at the University of Virginia in which researchers tried to replicate a hundred psychology experiments that were published in three leading journals. The results of the project were disappointing—nearly two thirds of the results of the experiments could not be replicated. Replication of results is a gold standard to measure quality of scientific research. An anecdotal topic referred to in the podcast was the research related to the health effects of coffee on the human body. Coffee and its health benefits (or lack thereof) are frequently discussed in the news media and was adopted as an example to utilize for an active learning component during the library instruction session.Distribute copies of the article “Health Effects of Coffee: Where Do We Stand?” at by Sandee LaMotte and published on the CNN website on August 14, 2015.  This article presents a chronology of “conventional wisdom,” popular beliefs, and research findings regarding the health effects of coffee intake from the 1500s to the present.Request that students break up into pairs, and review and discuss the article on coffee in light of the information they have just taken in via the the Youtube video and the NPR story.After 10 minutes, prompt and encourage the students to share their thoughts, analyses, conclusions, and insights regarding the content presented.Circle back to course purview and research assignments, and emphasize to students that they are “emerging researchers and emerging scholars” and they are the next participants in the conversation. They may be the contributors of new research knowledge in the future. 

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CC Attribution-ShareAlike License CC-BY-SA