Writing in a Literary Criticism Journal- Carolyn Badger

Journal Overview and Citation Practices

4650, 15

The title of the journal I have chosen is the Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications. Many of the topics in this journal seemed to be politically or socially driven, in dealing with Presidential debates, domestic violence, and sexism in dietary supplement advertisements. It seemed to deal very much with the effects of certain phenomena in the media, rather than analyzing the causes of the problems.

Social Media and Politics: Twitter use in the Second Congressional District of Virginia

This article studied Twitter use in politics, and it made healthy use of citations throughout the article. The author analyzed past studies done on the usage of social media in political campaigns, and created a platform for her readers by citing these past studies and piecing them together in such a way as to make them assert a certain point that she then supports with her own primary research. She focuses on two primary questions as to the social media (Twitter) usage in the campaign in terms of the campaign as a whole, as well as in each candidate’s use of Twitter personally. The description of the primary research the author did was primarily a summary. Many tweets were quoted in the summary, but not until the Conclusion section did the citations appear again, which tells the reader that the author is comparing her findings with the previous studies that had been done, and is presumable supporting her own research with said studies.

“The importance of influential, informational social exchange between politicians and users of social networking sites is implied by some of the tenants of Gerardine DeSanctis’ and Marshall Scott Poole’s (1994) Adaptive Structuration Theory (AST). A core premise of the AST is the idea that advanced information technologies, like social networking sites, enable multiparty participation and exchange in organizational activities through sophisticated information management (DeSanctis and Poole, 1994). More simply, it suggests that in order to nurture human interaction and communication, different society groups (systems) adapt information technologies (structure).”

The first sentence introduces the concept of Adaptive Structuration Theory (AST) which had been created by previous researchers on the topic. The author provides credit and citation by stating the researchers’ names and giving the year of the publication of the idea of AST. The next sentence describes what AST entails and how it affects the outcome of organizational activities through the use of social media. The language used in this sentence lets the reader know that the credit is not due to the author, but to the original researchers, but it is active language that describes the function of the research, and she provides a citation at the end. The last sentence illustrates more simply what AST’s function is in the world of human interaction, and she uses language such as the word “adapt” to describe how it helps social interaction and communication in the world. The tone that the author uses makes the reader infer that she will later on use the theory to support her own research as well as to build upon it when considering how to use it as a model for her case studies in the political campaign.

The author strives to inform her readers of the importance of the previous research done on the topic through usage of phrases such as, “This research, propelled by the past studies reviewed…” and others indicates to the reader that there is continuing work being done on the subject, but also that the prior research conducted was beneficial and integral to the success and effectiveness of the current research being done. The overall academic feeling of this piece indicates that the author feels as though she is reaching a broad audience by speaking about social media in more political terms, but also appropriately cites and credits other sources that she uses, thus making her own writing and research more believable and knowledgeable.

To get my research paper publication-ready, I need to continue researching more about the relationship between media changes and political and scientific trends of the time. I have made use of many secondary sources in the original research paper that I am working on for Project 1, but I do need to find more primary sources to base my argument off of. I intend to focus on 1-3 primary sources so as to structure the paper as a case study. I will analyze the author's stylistic preferences as well as see where they omit information so as to add my own, as well as to strengthen my own research off of the research already done on the topic.

Definition Practices

In this article, Portrayal of the American Legal System in Prime Time TV Crime Dramas, the author actually makes very few uses of definitions in her work. Much of her writing is based upon other foundational research findings that seem to be common knowledge among people in the field of study. Rather than defining words that are connected to the communication world, the author defines words that have more to do with the legal aspect of her study than the scientific and qualitative aspects.

An example of a sustained definition within the study is ”reasonable doubt is defined as “doubt based on reason, a doubt for which [one] can give a reason,” (Parker, 110) in which the author is explaining a phenomenon of jurors in real-life having expectations and reservations about a defendant’s guilt when presented with a “smoking gun” that proves their guilt. This comes from the science-fiction aspect of the law rather than the persuasive and factual side.

The author presents very few examples of definitions in her article, but she presents a large amount of information. She does this by referring to and citing other researchers and programs that support her case and research as well as repeating their findings that tend to make her argument stronger. This author seems to assume that her audience knows the definitions and methods in regards to communication-connected topics, but she seemingly needs to fill in the blanks when it comes to the political and legal terms that her peers and people in the field might not be familiar with.

When these legal definitions are presented, there is a very clear, concise, and purposeful definition that is assigned to each term. This presents the notion that the law itself is a rigid, unwavering thing that does not allow for a margin of error. There is only one meaning for each of the terms, it appears, and this makes it much more believable in terms of presenting new research to others.

Style of Dense Passages

The article I chose for this wiki post is the same article that I analyzed in Wiki Post 2: The Portrayal of the American Legal System in Prime-Time Crime Dramas, by Samantha Parker. The article is about the portrayal of the American legal system in prime-time television dramas. One passage in particular stood out to me to analyze for this wiki:

“Supposedly, because the forensic techniques and evidence illustrated on CSI are more reminiscent of science fiction than true practice, real-world jurors have developed “reasonable doubts” about defendants’ guilt during trials. Reasonable doubt is defined as “doubt based on reason, a doubt for which [one] can give a reason.” After watching CSI episodes, jurors expect to see dynamic, “smoking-gun” evidence in real-world courtrooms; they are less willing to accept basic criminal trial evidence, and they grow disappointed when they are not involved in CSI-style investigations.”

This passage stood out to me in particular because of its jargon used in explaining jury cases. Even though the author defines reasonable doubt in the passage, it still does not function well with the jargon that is scattered within the passage.

“This is a case study looking at how the legal system is portrayed on prime time network television crime dramas in respect to suspect treatment, the case building process and trial length. Through content analysis, it compared the exaggerations presented in those dramas to real-life accuracies.”

This passage was a part of the abstract of the article, and attempted to explain the purpose of the study. However, I found in reading it that the use of terminology, in particular “content analysis,” it left the reader to assume that he or she was supposed to know what content analysis was, upon beginning to read the article, and this was distracting to me as a reader.

“In a typical episode, audiences see forensic technicians using advanced technological equipment to complete DNA and gunshot residue tests.”

This is the final passage that I chose to analyze. It is debilitating to the article in that it states exactly what the forensic technicians do, but it is also very vague and somewhat misleading. Readers can interpret this however they want, and for a more experienced reader, “advanced technological equipment” can have a very different meaning than for a technologically crippled person who would read this and have no clue as to what is “advanced.”

I think these passages help the article as a whole because although they use advanced language and somewhat vague terms, I believe that it encourages the reader, scholarly or not, to use a much more analytical mindset when reading this journal. They also help the writer in displaying their concise and advanced knowledge on the subject they chose to write about.

General Academic Style

I have chosen the two articles that I have been working on previously, as they are familiar to me now. The first is, Social Media and Politics: Twitter Use in the Second Congressional District of Virginia by Julia Caplan, and the second is The Portrayal of the American Legal System in Prime-Time Television Crime Dramas by Samantha Parker. These two are interesting to compare as they deal with two very different forms of media.

In Caplan’s article, she used examples of real tweets by politicians, such as this one: “RepScottRigell: The Rigell Report: Changing Congress and Leading by Example.” This inclusion into her study created a natural draw of the reader’s eye to this section to read it. It is a very unconventional, but effective, creation of emphasis in the article that stresses the usage of Twitter in this specific political campaign.

Caplan’s article is also very specific in her explanations of how Twitter is used, and what her “codes” are for explaining tweets to people who might not be familiar with the social media device. This is contrary to Parker’s article which tends to be very vague, and use a lot of presuppositions that make her article more difficult to interpret without the base knowledge.

For example, “When considering the portrayal of trial length, it was noted whether or not the preliminary hearing, the arraignment, the discovery and motion practices, the plea bargain, the entry of plea and the trial were mentioned in the episodes.”

This passage indicates that the reader must have a base of quite specific knowledge about the American legal system, as well as the order in which things go when preparing for a trial. This is ill-fitting to an article of this nature in that when explaining research on a topic that has not been studied often or much, it is wrong of the author to assume that his or her audience has any background knowledge of the subjects within the study.

This is contrary to Caplan’s study, on which there have been numerous previous studies conducted.

Both of these articles were very interesting and effective in their own way, each using different styles of writing.

Knowledge-Making Cues

The study I chose to analyze is called Women in TV Broadcast News: Reporters and Sources in Hard News Stories by Mariah Irvin. This article analyzes the role of men and women in highly active political times and the stories that they are assigned to report according to their gender.

This study was both qualitative and quantitative in that it both analyzes the content of the news stories, as well as how many were being done by men and women, respectively. The method and analysis sections of the article have graphs and charts filled with numbers that lend a hand to readers in understanding the raw data that was found during the study. However, there is also a qualitative element to this study in that Irvin talks about “hard” and “soft” news, and there has to be descriptions and examples of these types of news stories to distinguish one from the other.

In this specific study, the researcher, Irvin, does not insert herself in the study as anything more than as a vehicle for making it happen. In the methods section, she very frequently refers to herself as “the study” rather than using the methodological I. Irvin uses agentless expressions as she turns attention to the study itself—not on herself as the researcher. For example, “This study has collected data on the association between the gender of broadcast reporters and the type of story they are assigned, as well as whether male sources are cited as experts and used more often than female sources.” This excerpt demonstrates the actions of the study, rather than the actions that the researcher took to collect the information.

There are not many modal expressions in this article, but one that stood out to me was, “It could be predicted that, as long as women are kept out of the news as reporters and sources, women will continue to hold a lower status compared to men.” This was interesting to me in that, in the article, Irvin cites another researcher as stating this fact, yet a modal statement cannot be taken as a fact. The removal of the “I” does not remove the implication of the same word. This modal statement worked for more than one study in women in broadcast news.

The very first sentence of the literature review section of the article has a limiting expression in it, “A majority of studies showed that women are generally considered less capable of relaying news and events than their male colleagues….” This limiting statement assists the believability of the study in that it does not say that women are ALWAYS considered less capable of relaying news, which would be seen as not only a biased statement, but also as a very sexist remark and would not have a place in a research journal.

There is a very steady past tense of verbs in this article, with which Irvin dissects her study to explain it to the reader as well as to present past research that supports her findings and methods. However, she occasionally uses present tense verbs to describe practices that news stations and broadcasting corporations have done, and are still doing today. The past and present verbs come together in this article to create a very knowledgeable effect on the reader. With her citations and usage of past tense, Irvin presents a large amount of information on this topic, making it very likely that there is a high level of knowledge on the topic.

Introductions and Conclusions

For this wiki post, I chose to use the article, Truth in Context in the 2012 Presidential Debates by Rachel Southmayd. The introduction she uses is quite devoid of knowledge statements that include modality and limiting expressions, and she instead focuses on more of a generalized, informative tone for the introduction. The conclusion, however, includes agentless expressions, which make the information sound obvious to the reader.

For example, “It is plausible that debate viewers are victims of the “false consensus effect,” meaning they assume certain statements are correct or incorrect because it is what they and the people that surround them think.” This asserts that Southmayd’s point, taken from her introduction, that the media is largely in charge of fact-checking during and after debates, is indeed true. The language that she uses in this statement implies that this is in fact a very common phenomenon that happens to many people viewing presidential debates.

In Southmayd’s conclusion, she does not make use of any moralizing statements in which she delegates responsibility to certain groups. Instead, she makes a useful summary of her findings and presents them in the conclusion. The study that she conducted was largely qualitative and included a lot of data that was analyzed, as well as comments by Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Using these in a summary did not make for easy insertion of moralizing statements. In fact, Southmayd’s study was not meant to incite a certain behavior among researchers, but rather to collect and present information to communicators around the country.

Summary of Good Academic Writing in The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications

My original paper was very much a standard, undergraduate research paper that incorporated many primary and secondary resources to evolve into an analysis of how media coverage of space exploration has changed since the 1960’s. This paper made me look more critically at sources that I had never had to analyze before as well as be able to incorporate my own argument into it to create a cohesive, concise article. In analyzing the Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications in my wiki posts, I have found that the best writing is the most tight and concise, but states the authors argument in the fewest words possible while still making a clear and powerful statement. This includes many words of emphasis and very clear statements about what the study or article is aiming to do. I believe that the articles that I have chosen to analyze for my wikis are the norm, and that there is good quality writing throughout the journal. However, it does depend on whether the study or article was meant to be qualitative or quantitative in that it might not be as concise or clear when describing abstract thoughts. I have tried to reflect this style of writing in my own rhetorical analysis in mirroring the words of emphasis in explaining the rhetoric involved, as well as by keeping my thoughts and sentences short and concise.

Peer Review Questions
1. How can I make my paper more scholarly?
2. Would it strengthen my paper to change the format?
3. Does my paper seem too repetitive?
4. Would adding another example of a social/scientific problem strengthen my rhetorical analysis?
5. Overall, are there any parts that seem unecessary or detrimental to my argument?

The New York Times

The New York Times is one of the most popular newspapers in the country, and it caters to the general public. People who read this newspaper are likely educated, and have an interest in politics and current news that involves the United States. There is a lot of opinion writing in this paper, which is what I am interested in.

The article I chose to analyze in this wiki is called "Allies in Revolt" and it is an opinion piece that I found in the online version of the paper. The authors are members of the Editorial Board and they compiled this article about other nations' anger at President Obama's policies in regards to Syria and other international matters. It discusses, similarly to my own article, the political persuasion of people in power. It discusses how leaders of other countries have resorted to threats of violence, even nuclear violence, to make their point.

This is a display of rhetoric in that it is appealing to the emotions of others, namely anger, and that is exactly what I describe in my paper. I appeal to a different emotioncuriosityand it is employed the same way as this article exhibits its rhetoric; through people in power.

The authors are the editorial board of the paper, and they state that, "All three countries have resorted to threats and displays of pique to make their points" and this resonates the effects that rhetoric can have on political situations.

The style and genre are newspaper article that is written in with clearly understood language. This makes it easier to understand for people who might not be as familiar with politics as others, but are still interested in current events.

Project 2 Revision Plan

My publication has the purpose of examining political rhetoric and informing my audience about how it can be successfully and unsuccessfully used. My audience, for Project 2, is the readers of the New York Times, and they tend to be educated, politically-interested people who have something to gain by reading the Times.

The topic I am considering in my opinion piece for the Times is how John F. Kennedy used rhetoric to persuade (successfully), how George W. Bush used rhetoric to persuade (unsuccessfully), and how readers should approach current Presidential addresses with a new outlook and try to see the real purpose behind the language and words that President Obama is saying in his statements to the American people.

I will organize this article as an opinion piece, and write it in the journalistic style that I am accustomed to, following AP standards which are familiar to me. The essential information that I will be keeping will be the “meat” of my publication, namely the facts, my opinions, and the information I have taken from doing this rhetorical analysis. I will not be keeping the references to my scholarly sources, as this would be inappropriate in an opinion piece.

Wiki Post 8

In this final revision of the project for the semester, I will be analyzing a political blog from the Huffington Post and modeling my own work after it. Many of the contributors to the Huffington Post (in blogs, mainly) are lay people with some experience in the area that they are discussing. For example, one gentleman is an author on the topic of The Wizard of Oz, and this is what he discusses in his blogs. Another woman is a makeup artist and blogger, and she discusses beauty and the media. I plan to make my last project a series (4) of blog entries about President Obama’s speeches on healthcare in the United States and bring in the discussion about political rhetoric that I have been talking about all semester.
My audience is mainly the people who have an interest in blogging, and particularly in political blogs. I am attempting to inform them of my opinions on political rhetoric, while using a current issue to illustrate my main points and make it a topic that most people in the country are familiar with. I am assuming that if they are seeking out this particular political blog, then they have at least the basic knowledge of the healthcare crisis that our country is experiencing at present.
I will use the example of JFK in my last rendition of my project while making a parallel between his use of political rhetoric and comparing it to President Obama’s less successful usage of the same rhetoric. I plan to make it more conversational and insert more of my personal opinion into the piece, rather than have it be so scholarly.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License