Week One: 8/27 and 8/29

Class Introductions

Review course syllabus/course learning outcomes (Syllabus)

Distribute and discuss Letter of Introduction Assignment

Class Discussion: What is science?  What is science writing?  Why do we write about science?

George Orwell: What is Science?, and Carl Sagan – Why We Need To Understand Science.  Responding to key questions from the readings:

  • What is Science?
  • What does the writer(s) mean when using the term “scientifically educated?
  • Is it necessary that the general public be “scientifically educated”? Why, or why not?
  • What is the role of science in polities and social administration?
  • Why do we need to write about science?
  • Should literature and history have a role in science? Why, or why not?
  • What is Orwell and Sagan central argument? How does their arguments differ?

Discuss Rhetorical Situations in science writing

Technical Writing: Derived from Online Technical Writing by David McMurrey – CC: BY 4.0

Chapter 2 Audience Analysis:

Primary and Secondary audiences: Science audience verses the general public.

Using adaptive measures as rhetorical devices for target audience(s):
—visual images/graphics
—defining terms

Introduction to Informative Review Papers: Types of informative reviews targeting specific audiences.

Discussion on Analyzing Your Audience for Informative Review Papers:
Understanding Your Audience Is Key To Aligning Your Writing To The Rhetorical Situations:

  • There are two distinct audiences for science writing: (1) primary audience (2) secondary audience
  • Primary audience are readers who are the science professionals, specialized in the field and familiar with the subject.
  • Secondary audience are readers who are the layman, having no professional or specialized knowledge in the field or subject.

Key Questions for Analyzing Your Audiences:

  • Who are your primary and secondary readers?
  • How are your readers likely to relate to you?
  • What do your readers know and need to know about your topic?
  • Why is your audience reading your paper?
  • What values, preconceptions, and biases might readers hold about your research issue?
  • What qualities of written communications your readers value most?
  • How will your audiences go about reading your paper?

Group Questions/Exercise:  Reading informative review articles “scientifically….” Being rational, skeptical, and experimental. Meaning, to rationally challenge the writer— reading in-between the lines, questioning their reasoning and conclusions, and experimentally revealing factors or issues that the writer may be ignoring. Read your assigned article and respond to the following questions:

  1. Building a Better Human With Science? The Public Says, No Thanks – The New York Times
  2.  Blurred Vision, Burning Eyes_ This Is a Lasik Success_ – The New York Times
  • Explain how the opening paragraphs engage the reader?
  • Who is the target audience(s)? What supports your position on the target audience(s) you described?
  • What influences the general public’s biases, suspensions, and criticisms in the article(s)?
  • Are the general public’s concerns legit?
  • Are there any ethical issues?
  • Does the writer make concessions that appear skeptical? In other words, does the writer acknowledge the legitimacy of the audience’s concerns without appearing bias or patronizing?
  • Does the writer appear objective, or does the writer take a position? Explain.
  • How does the writer support claims made in the article? In other words, what professional sources or studies are being used as evidence? Are the sources scientifically sound and credible? Explain how?
  • We discussed how “adaptive measures” are used to help convey difficult concepts to laymen audiences. What type of adaptive measures does the writer use? Are they effective? How?
  • How are in-text sources cited in NYT digital science articles compared to printed science essays/journal articles?