Writing 109ST
Writing for Science and Technology
 


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RHETORICAL ANALYSIS
In an essay, provide an analysis of the specific rhetorical features of a lay or academic article on a scientific or technical topic. In particular, your analysis should comment explicitly on what the rhetorical features of this article tell you about knowledge, communities, and research and writing practices in the fields of science and technology.

In your analysis, be sure to discuss at least some of the following elements, though not necessarily in this order:

overall
Who is the audience of the article? What is the purpose of the article? In what context(s) does the article circulate? What assumptions do the authors of the article make—for instance, assumptions about their audience, about science/technology, about knowledge, about writing?

organization
How is the article structured? What are the lengths of sections and/or paragraphs? What is the content of the introduction and conclusion? What types of evidence are presented?

sentence level
Consider the style, syntax, length, voice, and other features of sentences in the article.

word level
Consider the diction and use of jargon in the article.

peripheral elements
Consider peripheral elements in the article such as its title, the number of authors, additional information about the authors, and the incorporation of information from outside sources. Consider as well the design of the article (e.g., font, layout, use of white space), as well as the number, type, and function of any graphics in the article.

Your essay should be double-spaced, with standard font and margins, and a title. It should be no less than 5 pages in length.

Due Date
This assignment is due at the beginning of class on Tuesday, May 2.

 

RESEARCH PROPOSAL
The purpose of this assignment is for you to describe the specific topic on which you’ll write your journal article for this course. The Research Proposal gives you an opportunity to begin planning, researching, and writing the article, as well as to get feedback on your plans at an early stage, both from me and from other students.

You can certainly change your mind—about the topic as a whole or about smaller details of the project—as you work on the journal article assignment. A proposal is a working document, subject to modification as you continue researching and writing. However, your Research Proposal should nevertheless be detailed and richly descriptive. The strongest proposals are ones that persuade readers that the project is not only feasible but also worthwhile; they convey a sense of the author as someone who is prepared, capable, enthusiastic about taking on the work that is proposed.

Use the following sections to organize your Research Proposal.

1. Topic/Purpose
Describe the topic of your article as well as its goal or aim. In other words, discuss what you’re writing about and why this topic is important. Describe also the major sections or points that you will want to cover in your article. If you have an outline written—even a fairly sketchy one—include it in this section.

2. Audience/Purpose
Provide a detailed description of the primary intended audience for your article. What is their level of expertise? What interest do they have in the topic? To what use might they put the information they learn from your article? What might this audience want to know that will NOT be included in your article? (In other words, what are the limits of your article?) Indicate as well a description of any secondary audiences for whom your article might be useful.

3. Resources
Describe the type of sources you will need to gather for your article as well as your plan of action for gathering these sources. Provide bibliographic information and annotations for at least three specific sources that you plan to use in your article.

4. Publication Venue
Although you do NOT have to send your journal article out for publication, you DO have to write the article as if it could be published in a specific journal. That is, you have to adapt the organization, style, format, citation format, use of graphics, and other features of the article to the distinctive requirements of a specific journal. In this section, therefore, indicate which journal(s) you’re considering as the target publication venue for your article, and describe in as much detail as you can the distinctive features of content and format for articles in this journal. Append to the end of this section (that is, to the end of the Proposal) an article from the journal that will serve as your model.

Due Date
This assignment is due at the beginning of class on on Tuesday, May 9.


JOB APPLICATION PACKAGE
Your job application package should contain three items:

1. a description and analysis of the position for which you’re applying
2. a résumé or CV specifically targeted to this position
3. a cover letter specifically targeted to this position.

Description and analysis of the position
It is essential to have a firm understanding of the position for which you’re applying; such an understanding will help you orient your résumé and cover letter to the specific requirements of the position.

In one paragraph, describe the position as well as the organization or company that is offering the position. In another one or two paragraphs, offer an analysis of the position, focusing in particular on those qualities that you believe would be especially valued in an applicant. For instance, what skills or prior experience do you think the employers are most interested in seeing in applicants for the position? What would be most impressive in terms of an applicant’s personality traits?

Keep in mind that, as with any analysis, you need to draw reasonable conclusions based on evidence. In this case, the evidence you’re working with is the job description as well as any relevant information you have about the organization or company offering the position.

Résumé or CV
The résumé should include contact information and relevant details of your educational training, professional training, special accomplishments, and skills. While following the format for a standard résumé, you should also try to tailor its information and organization to suit the position for which you’re applying. The goal is to show that you are qualified for a particular type of job or internship.

Your format may be traditional or innovative as long as the information is highly accessible and is organized in a way that highlights the most important items (from the employer’s perspective). If possible, stick to one page. Use a CV if you’re applying for an academic position; otherwise use a résumé.

Cover Letter
The cover letter is often the first item seen by a prospective employer and it is frequently the document that makes the strongest impression. If a reader is unimpressed with your cover letter, he or she will most likely not continue to the rest of your application packet.

In general, the opening of your letter should establish why you are writing to your reader. The body of the letter develops your major qualifications for the position, supported with specific evidence. Your cover letter should highlight and draw attention to details contained within your résumé.

Due Date
This assignment is due at the beginning of class on Tuesday, May 30.


JOURNAL ARTICLE
This is the capstone assignment for the course, toward which most of the reading and writing assignments are oriented. On a topic of your choice and targeted toward a specific publishing venue, your journal article should address a scientific issue or problem that you consider interesting and important.

For this assignment you can choose to write either a lay article or an expert article—that is, either an article for a lay audience or an article for an expert audience. There is, of course, considerable range within these two groups. Both lay and expert audiences can be more or less sophisticated, interested, and informed, and so you’ll need to have a clear sense of the particular lay or expert audience you’re targeting.

The article should include graphics and citations where appropriate. Moreover, the article should be written and formatted according to the conventions of the journal that is its targeted publishing venue.

Due Date
This assignment is due at the beginning of class on Tuesday, June 8.