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Priscilla C.
Science librarian (who loves all questions equally. Ask away!)
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Natural Sciences
TutorMe
Question:

I don't understand the difference between a theory and a hypothesis.

Priscilla C.
Answer:

I'm glad you asked! A hypothesis is a potential explanation for an observed phenomenon. That is, a researcher noticed something happening, and came up with an educated guess or idea about why it was happening. Of course, without gathering some evidence to support it, she will never be able to do more than guess. So, she will test her hypothesis, using the scientific method to gather and analyze data. If her analysis doesn't support her original idea, she will have to rethink it, or seek another explanation -- and then test again! Theories, on the other hand, are hypotheses that have been tested (over and over again)..and the overwhelming evidence supports their claims. If it would help to see a video describing the two, with some examples, take a look at this one: https://www.ck12.org/c/physical-science/hypothesis/lecture/Fact-vs.-Theory-vs.-Hypothesis-vs.-Law%E2%80%A6-EXPLAINED-4313233/?referrer=concept_details Does that help? If you need more examples or demonstrations, please let me know!

Library and Information Science
TutorMe
Question:

How can I tell if a book is scholarly or not? I found it in the library, and want to use it for my research paper, but I can only use scholarly sources.

Priscilla C.
Answer:

This is a great question! Books can be scholarly, but not all of them are. So, you'll need to take a close look at the books that you want to use for your research project...there are some clues that will let you know if they are scholarly or not. Just as periodicals can be scholarly or popular, books are also published with different audiences and purposes. Popular books are written for a general audience and are usually intended to entertain, advise or persuade. Scholarly books are written for scholars/researchers in the author's field, and are typically intended to share research findings and contribute to the ongoing scholarly "conversation." They might also be intended to teach new scholars in the field -- students just like you! If you look inside a book, you will see some clues. Here are some clues that you've found a scholarly book: >References. One of the quickest things to check for: a list of cited sources (articles, books, reports, etc. that the author referred to throughout the text) at the end of each chapter or at the end of the book. >Discipline-specific language. Because scholarly books are written by experts for experts, the author will be using the specialized terminology of his/her field (and often won't stop to define these words and phrases, as the intended readers will know them already). Scholarly books will also be written in a formal tone, as they are intended to be a professional, lasting contribution to the literature. >Expert author. Scholarly books are written by people with advanced degrees in their field (M.S., Ph.D., etc.), and typically with years of experience working with the subject that they're writing about. How can you find out? Google them! Many researchers will be associated with a university, government agency or other institution -- see if you can find a webpage for the book's author that ties her to her credentials and experience. >A well-respected publisher. A university press is usually a safe bet, as each university wants to ensure that the books published under its name are of high quality. They also frequently publish the work of their faculty, who will be experts in their field and who do research as part of their jobs. There are lots of other publishers out there, too -- as you come across scholarly books in your classes, pay attention to publisher names. You'll soon be familiar with the major publishers of scholarly books in your discipline. >An editor. Sometimes, you'll notice that each chapter is written by different authors. In this case, one or more editors are listed on the book's cover and copyright page. The editor has the important job of ensuring that each chapter was written to the publisher's standards -- this is a good sign of quality control! (But, remember that not all scholarly books will have an editor or multiple authors!) Does that help you determine whether your book is scholarly or not? Please let me know if you have more questions!

Biology
TutorMe
Question:

What does sexual dimorphism mean, and how does it work?

Priscilla C.
Answer:

When the males and females of a species have different characteristics (size, color, etc.), that's sexual dimorphism. The prefix "di-" means two, and "morph" means "form". Many bird species exhibit sexual dimorphism, so you may see it every day! Northern Cardinals (aka redbirds) are a good example: the male is bright red, while the female is a less-flashy reddish brown. How could this difference between the sexes evolve? First, remember that evolution happens when a new genetic trait allows the individuals that have it to survive AND reproduce (so that the genes for that trait are passed to the next generation). Over time, that trait will become more and more common in the species. Well, when cardinals breed, it's only the female that incubates the eggs and broods the young, so she spend long hours on the nest, for weeks at a time. To a predator, she (and her offspring) would be an easy meal, and a brightly-colored female, sitting on her nest of twigs, would be easy for a predator to spot. A duller-colored female, on the other hand, would be better camouflaged. She and her nestlings would be more likely to pass unnoticed by predators...and her dull-female genes would be passed on to her daughters, who would also benefit from that camouflage effect, as would their offspring. Eventually, all females in the species would be cryptically-colored, instead of bright. For males, since they do not sit on the nest, being brightly colored is less risky. But, it is a sign of health and ability (a male's red pigment comes from his diet...so it's a signal that he's able to defend a territory with lots of food...crucial when you have hungry nestlings to feed!). So, when it's time to choose a mate, the females are attracted to the brightest males, who then get the chance to breed and raise young with bright-male genes....the duller males aren't as likely to breed, and so their genes are not passed on. I hope this helps to explain sexual dimorphism. Would more examples help? Please let me know!

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