Writing Assignment #1: Two Technical Definitions with an Audience-and-Use Profile for Each
TASK: Write two one-page definitions of the same technical term. The readers of the first definition must be technically knowledgeable; the readers of the second definition must not be technically knowledgeable in the subject area.
Before you write your definitions, fill out a separate audience analysis form for each audience (which may be hypothetical or real), using the Audience Identity and Needs (Audience-and-Use Profile Sheet) Include these audience analysis forms with your definitions.
Format: Use the expanded definition formats in Figures 18.3 (for semitechnical readers) and 18.4 (for nontechnical readers) in Chapter 18. Provide at least one visual per definition. Also provide footnotes or parenthetical citations and a bibliography, using the APA, MLA or another recognized documentation format (such as the Chicago Style or IEEE); state the format you are using.
TIP: Use the documentation formats in Appendix A of our text, “A Quick Guide to Documentation” to guide your citations and bibliographies. You can also use Citation Machine (Links to an external site.)or a similar site to streamline your formatting of sources.
Length: 1-2 pages, single-spaced, for each definition, including your visuals and bibliographies.
References: Provide at least 2 footnoted or parenthetically cited references, and a bibliography for each definition. One reference must come from a .com site and one from a .edu, .gov, .mil, or .org site. Do not use Wikipedia as a documented reference. Again, use MLA, APA, or another recognized documentation style for your documentation format, and state at the top of your bibliography which documentation style you are using.
Audience Analysis Profile Forms
As requested above, fill out an Audience-and-Use profile for a hypothetical audience for each of your definitions.
Use the format below or the format on p 31 of the text for each Audience-and-Use Profile form, label them at the top “Semitechnical Audience” and include the appropriate form after each bibliography.
Guidence, Example, and Tips:
Be sure you read Chapter 18 to understand the importance and characteristics of technical definitions, which are different from technical descriptions and instructions (which will be covered later).
Then select your term and your two audiences. If you major in nursing, you might select the term diabetes and the two audiences for whom you are writing the definitions might be 1) pre-med students taking an endocrinology course and 2) the patients of an endocrinologist who has prepared a short handout for his patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes.
For the first (semitechnical) audience - of pre-med students - you might consider defining diabetes in terms of metabolic and chemical disorder. For the nontechnical audience, you might consider adding to a simple definition of diabetes an analogy of how the body’s system has malfunctioned and, most important for this audience, how having diabetes is going to affect their lives. In deciding what information you include for each audience, consider the various ways in which to define terms and use those tools to select what would be appropriate to each audience to create an effective definition. Again, see your text, Chapter 18, for definition strategies, before you start to plan, research, and write.
Be sure to state the purpose of your document at the beginning of your document.
Be sure that you provide a documented concise, single-sentence definition of a single term early in your document. Do not try to "wing it" by providing a personal definition, no matter how much experience you may have with the term - unless you have published in the area, and can cite yourself.
Having done that, you should expand that definition with examples, illustrations, further discussion, and other techniques in Chapter 19 of our text to meet the needs and expectations of your audience (your readers).
One example using the term "definition" itself:
Definition is the statement of the meaning of a term, normally consisting of three essential parts: 1) the term itself; 2) the class, or genus, into which the term falls, and 3) the essential difference, or differentia, between that term and all other terms in that class.” (This is a concise definition.)
A further example of a concise definition: “A rectangle is a four-sided geometric figure with two right angles.
If you need help finding a suitable term, just let me know! I'll be glad to help.
Be sure to provide sources for all external information. If you need any assistance with formats just let me know.
You may discuss any aspect of this assignment with your colleagues in the class, and are encouraged to do that in the optional “Discuss P1” thread.
How is your assignment evaluated? The Writing Assessment Checklist, which uses techniques similar to that for the Graduate Record Exam essay and other professional writing exams, is the primary tool used in this class.
Criteria for excellence:
Focus on purpose and audience using the Audience Profiles
A documented concise definition
Expansion of the definition to meet the needs and expectations of readers
Clarity of controlling (main) idea
Absence of errors in grammar, mechanics, and spelling
You can copy the Audience-and-Use Profile Sheet below, and attach them to each of your definitions.
Audience Identity and Needs (Audience-and-Use Profile Sheet)
Submit one hypothetical profile for each definition for writing assignment #1; you may of course make up the information, but make sure it fits with the definition. For example, be sure you cover the possible questions you list on the form in the definition. Tip: Just highlight, copy, and paste this form into a blank document or below your definition.
Audience Identity and Needs
Primary Audience:_____________________________ (name, title)
Secondary Audience:___________________________ (name, title)
Relationship to the writer:_______________________________ (client, employee, other)
Intended use of document:___________________________ (be specific)
Readers' prior knowledge of topic:____________________________________________
Additional information needed by readers:__________________________________________
Possible questions from readers:_______________________________________________________
Audience's Probable Attitude and Personality
Attitude toward topic:____________________________
Probable attitude toward the writer:_____________________________________________________
Persons most affected by this document:________________________________________________
Probable reaction to the document____________________________________________________
Risk of alienating anyone:_______________________________________________________
Audience Expectations About the Document
Reason document originated:_____________________________________________________
Material important to this audience:______________________________________________________
Most useful organization:___________________________________________________
Intended effect on this audience:______________________________________________________
Document due date:___________________________________
Modified from John Lannon's Technical Writing, 12th ed