Document Analysis Paper

This 6-9 page paper (double-spaced, 1″ margins, 12 pt font) builds on our two shorter analysis assignments. The main goal here is to address the question of what writing and communication looks like in your field and how it structures key aspects of your field: the field’s orientation, its production of knowledge, and its social relations. You should work toward answering this question by analyzing texts with reference to the concerns we addressed in the shorter analysis assignments. You are welcome to draw on these assignments substantially here.

Your paper should be formatted as a formal report, and for our purposes, this means you should include a title page, an executive summary, the main body of the report with headings (introduction, other sections in the middle of the report, and conclusions), and references (the references page and all in-text citations should use APA formatting). Note that the 6-9 pages refers to the main body of the report, so your paper will actually be longer with a title page, an executive summary, and references. In terms of the substance of the report, your paper should address the following prompts:

  • You should substantially examine and analyze at least three different types of sources (e.g., sources from professional publications, newsletters, or blogs; articles in academic journals; public articles in newspapers, magazines, or blogs; governmental sources; corporate documents or reports).
  • Your analysis should address concerns of argument (drawing on Toulmin’s model of argumentation), audience, style, and structure. You don’t necessarily need to analyze each source across every term and category; the challenge is to note what is most important and relevant to your understanding of writing and communication in your field. You can refer back to our analysis assignments for more specific questions and prompts that can help guide your analysis.
  • Through your analysis, you should work toward articulating larger insights into your field that address the following sorts of questions: What sorts of patterns, similarities and differences, do you see across these different types of sources? How would you describe and characterize writing and communication in your field based on these sources? What are the main orientations, attitudes, values, and assumptions shaping your field and communication within it? What types of knowledge are valued in your field? How is this knowledge created and shared? How are social relations structured in your field, and how are these relations embodied in the way your field communicates?
  • Where possible, you should also work toward connecting these insights about your field to the larger public discourse and society more generally. How do these specific texts and rhetorical aspects of your field reinforce or work against broader attitudes, assumptions, pieces of knowledge and perspectives, and relations in our public discourse and society more generally? What sort of effect do these things have in the world?

Grades for the papers will focus on the strength and effectiveness of your analysis and the insights into the field that you offer based on your analysis and your ability to address the expectations and conventions of the formal report and professional writing in terms of structure, formatting, citations, style, and effective use of language. “A” papers will be characterized by excellent work across these concerns, “B” papers good work, “C” papers acceptable work, “D” papers work that needs substantial improvement, and “F” papers unacceptable work.