Science Writing Project

For this project, you will write a piece for a forum that regularly presents scientific and technical issues to non-expert audiences.

Selecting Your Forum

Your first task is to identify the forum you intend to contribute to. Examples of possible forums can be found in Wikipedia's entry for Science Writing, but I encourage you to think broadly and creatively here. There are a wide array of forums that bring science and technology to non-experts: journalistic forums that report news (such as The New York Times science section), forums that are dedicated to a deeper interrogation of science and technology issues (such as The New Atlantis), forums used by government organizations to reach the public (NASA, the EPA), forums hosted by activist political organizations to win support on science policy (Greenpeace, the George C. Marshall Institute), etc.

Your forum can be either print or online, but it should be real, have a sizable audience, have multiple contributors, and be able to accommodate a written work 1,000–1,750 words in length.

Rhetorical Analysis

After choosing a forum, your next task is to perform a rhetorical analysis in order to gain a sense of your forum's audience, purpose, and context. After closely examining a number of examples of the forum, write a 750–1,250 word analysis that answers the following questions:


Next, you will identify a scientific or technical topic that you feel would be appropriate to bring to your forum. It can be a timely issue, it can be historical, it can be controversial, it can be obscure, or it can be of general interest. But it should be appropriate to the forum, something the readership will likely find compelling, and it should require some description of a scientific or technical issue. You will then research your topic in order to fully understand the issue you have chosen and to construct your ethos in a manner appropriate to your forum.


Finally, you will compose a work of 1,000–1,750 words in length. Naturally, the understanding of the forum that you developed in your rhetorical analysis should inform every aspect of your composition. Your resources must be cited in the manner appropriate to your forum (and consistent with the University's Academic Conduct Regulations). You are also encouraged, but not required, to compose every aspect of your work as it would actually appear in the forum: editorial style, photos, illustrations, design, layout, etc.

Project Deliverables

You will submit the following by the deadlines listed on the course calendar:

  1. a project planning memo,
  2. a rhetorical analysis, and
  3. your final project.


Creative Commons License
This assignment was developed by Jim Nugent and is distributed
under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.