Writing 109SS:








The general idea of this assignment is to draw on your group’s ongoing research on a particular topic and ask the group members to select an article and lead a discussion of the characteristics of social science writing on the topic. There are three basic steps in this project:

1. meet with others in your group in order to choose an article that will be discussed by everyone in the class

2. provide me with a clean copy of this article on or before Tuesday, April 19

3. lead the class discussion of the article (and the article with which it is paired—see below) on the day your group is assigned to do so.

1. Meet with your group to choose the article
Each group will be asked to choose either a lay article or an academic article on the topic that the group is researching. The lay article should be written for a lay audience—in other words, for reasonably intelligent people who are nevertheless not experts in the field. The academic article should be written for an academic, professional, or otherwise expert audience and should presuppose familiarity with the terms and ideas in the field. In both cases, the article should be originally published in print, not on the Web, and should be clearly in the realm of the social sciences.

2. Provide me with a clean copy of the article
On or before Tuesday, April 19, someone in the group should give me a copy of the article. It should be a clean, dark, easy to read copy, without excessive underlining or notes in the margins. I’ll make the article available to the rest of the class by posting it at the Library’s Electronic Reserve website (http://eres.library.ucsb.edu).

3. Lead the class discussion
Between the fourth and seventh week of classes, each group will be asked to lead the discussion for one class session. Prior to this session, all of the students in the class will have read the article that your group selected, as well as one other reading selected by me. This other reading will be an example of a type of writing that is generally not done in the social sciences: poetry, fiction, newspaper reporting, movie review, humanities analysis, scientific article.

The general purpose of the discussion in class is to identify and discuss the key features of writing in the social sciences, as evidenced in the article your group selected. There will obviously be important differences between the social science article and the non-social science reading. The goal of your group, then, is to lead discussion by highlighting these key features.

You can use whatever strategies you think are appropriate to leading a discussion (e.g., questions, handouts, short writing assignments, small group discussions). I will plan to meet with each group prior to the date on which it is assigned to lead the discussion.

This is the capstone assignment for the course, toward which most of the reading and writing assignments build. Your journal article should address a specific question, problem, or issue related to the topic that you and your group have been researching throughout the quarter. Your article should also be targeted toward a specific print publishing venue.

For this assignment you can choose to write either a lay article or an academic article—that is, either an article for a lay audience or an article for an academic audience. There is, of course, considerable range within these two groups. Both lay and academic 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 academic audience that you are addressing. You can gain this sense of audience by examining the publishing venue that you are targeting and making your article similar to others that you find there (similar in tone, style, length, complexity, and so on).

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

Due Date
This assignment is due at the beginning of the last class on Thursday, June 2.


Each group in the class will create a blog for the purposes of sharing resources about the topic your group is researching. During weeks three through seven, you’ll be asked to write at least two entries for your group’s blog, at least one comment to someone else’s entry in your group’s blog, and at least one comment on an entry in another group’s blog.

For five weeks, then, you’ll have at least ten entries and ten comments. Of these, select at least eight (8) that you believe represent your best writing, and put these together in a portfolio. Feel free to revise or edit the entries before including them in the portfolio.

In addition, the portfolio should contain an original piece of writing that addresses the following questions:

1. Why did you choose these particular entries for your portfolio? What strong features of your writing do they represent?

2. In what ways did the experience of keeping a collaborative blog affect your research and writing processes?

I hope that you will devote considerable time and thought to these questions, especially the second one.

Due Date
This assignment is due at the beginning of the last class on Thursday, June 2.