Research-based informative article

Articles everywhere – articles on CNN or the NY Times website, or PC Gamer, or National Geographic, or Sports Illustrated.

Okay, so younger people don’t admit to reading anything longer than an Instagram story. But depending on what field you end up in, you’re very likely to be asked to write an article for the company website or for some other website to attract customers or to help people that look to your professional and community discourse communities for advice about all kinds of things.

A lot of those are fairly short, under 1000 words certainly, but a lot are meant to have real research-based information and are supposed to change people’s minds or convince them to do something. So that’s what we’re going to do with this Unit.

First of all… What impact do you want to have on your community? What changes do you want to make in the world to benefit your community? What is a problem in the world you think needs to be fixed? 

For this unit, your task is to research a current problem or issue that’s important to you, and maybe to the discourse community you wrote about for Unit 1. Either is fine. The point is that the problem/issue should be something that really matters to you and that you want to spend a significant amount of time working on — “significant” being relative since it’s the summer.

Your main outcome in this unit will be to write a research-based informative article of at least 1200 words that will make an impact on an issue of importance to you or your discourse community.

It’s important to remember here that you are just looking for the beginnings of solutions — because my guess is that you’ll be picking difficult problems. If, for example, it was easy to come up with a solution to the problem of domestic violence, or racism in the education system, someone would’ve found that solution by now. This doesn’t mean we don’t keep looking with fresh eyes! But don’t try to oversimplify — it’s okay to just begin the conversation. 

As a class, we will work to help you research the problem thoroughly so that you have a good idea of what is at the heart of the issue — where the problem really stems from.  Only after you have done that research can you decide who might be able to impact change on that problem. This will be your audience

To make that impact, we’ll look at how to write one of these articles — the structure of an informative article, what a nut graph looks like (and why it’s important), how to include research in a way that’s appropriate for your chosen audience, how to incorporate visuals both for interest and for information — and look at examples of “mentor texts” that might make a good structural model for your own article (not the content; just the structure).

Grading Criteria

  1. Genre & Audience Awareness. Have you written in language that will effectively reach your intended audience? 
  1. Appropriateness for the publication.  You must pick a specific publication that you feel will reach your audience (and not just the New York Times — but if you choose the NYT, a particular section!) Does your article seem like a good fit for that publication?
  1. Completion of research. You’ll do some basic research and write a short annotation for each source. Two sources minimum, but they could also include interviews, surveys, and other types of primary research as well as the usual articles that we find in the library. Did you find relevant and credible sources and interesting sources? Does your research reflect a thorough understanding of the problem you are trying to impact?
  1. Use of research. So, you did the research.  How were you able to integrate it into your own article and argument? 
  1. Is it convincing. The goal was to convince your audience to begin making a particular change to benefit your community.  Does your article convince them to do so?


STEP 1: Brainstorming a Topic 

Find a current problem/issue you’re interested in or passionate about. It is crucial that you choose something that matters to you and/or your community. The more you care, the easier it will be to find interesting sources and write it in a way that addresses your audience and convinces them. We’ll use a Padlet to brainstorm some ideas and maybe even help each other with suggested research sources or possible interviewees.

STEP 2: Mentor articles

After we look at what makes a good informative article, you’ll be looking at several articles using Perusall that could serve as structure (not content) models.

STEP 3: Draft

We’ll put these into our Google Drive folder and everybody can read and comment on the ones that interest you. I’ll also make my comments on these Google Drive drafts. As part of your Draft (at the very end), you’ll leave a memo to me and your classmates about what you wanted to accomplish with the article, where you feel like it works, where you feel like it’s not quite right.

Now go to the Schedule page for the video lecture, handouts, links, etc. for Unit 2.

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