What Makes an Article?

While it’s easy to believe that the articles we read on the hundred of thousands of news sites across the internet just appear or are even just printed out by robots, this isn’t the case (so far at least for the robots). Instead, the efforts that go into creating the standard internet feature article are, in fact, rather substantial when taken on without guidance. Luckily, there are plenty of articles on the internet to look over on your journey to find your feet. One such piece comes in the form of a National Geographic article titled “What Science Tells Us About Good and Evil” by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee.

Always a great place to learn.
From WikiCommons.

The first thing that an article of any type has to do is establish the question at hand and make it interesting enough to keep the reader reading. Bhattacharjee’s main question is fairly easy to see. They reference their question not only in the title of the article, but also clearly within the first section. The method Bhattacharjee uses in this case is to provide an example, which can sometimes be in an abstract way, for both sides. With both sides now established, Bhattacharjee finally makes clear the question found in the title is directly what the article is about. This is a great method, especially for when you’re comparing and contrasting two different things.

It allows the reader to comprehend examples of both sides and link them to the idea in question on a level beyond simply what the title could do. Of course, this isn’t the whole article and, therefore, isn’t all of what needs to be done.

Info graphics make reading easier because you don’t have to read.
Captured from National Geographic.

As Bhattacharjee enters the main sections of their feature article, they elaborate in multiple contexts to provide the reader with more background information on the subject at hand. First, the historical findings of the article’s question (ie: what does science tell us about good and evil?) is presented. Then more modern studies and findings are presented to the reader forming a bigger picture on the situation as a whole in their mind. Here both scientific papers and info graphics are used to provide sources for the statements made by Bhattacharjee.

However, it is important to note that the article does not read like a research paper. Rather, it is presented in an almost conversational tone. It’s more along the lines of a friend explaining a subject to you rather than a 300 person lecture. While this a personal preference on what works for you, you’ll find, at least according to my experience, most readers respond better to ‘real’ language rather than the purely academic prose that’s often taken in such papers.

All it takes is a brief glance under the hood.

As the article reaches its end, Bhattacharjee makes clear their point that there is in fact a solid connection between science and if someone is one of those highly subjective buzz words like ‘good’ or ‘evil’. Overall, “What Science Tells Us About Good and Evil” does a great job expressing what a good feature article requires. Any article can be analyzed like this and each will provide new insights on what to do and what not to do. All it takes is a brief glance under the hood.

If you want to read the article yourself, check it out here.