Writing for the public: Write a short magazine article for the general public

This assignment has a VERY strict word count (your article absolutely has to be within these

limits, no exceptions), you will loose 50% of your marks if you have fewer or more words:

Minimum word count 450 words; Maximum: 550 words (excluding title).

Note that you absolutely have to base your magazine article on one of the original research articles

that are posted as pdfs on the assignment page on eClass. If you use any other articles/a different

topic without getting prior written permission from me, you will get a 0 on the assignment.

For this assignment you will be writing a short science-based piece about migration for the public in the form of a news or magazine article.

Most of the writing in university science courses follows a style and a set of rules that are consistent with the scientific literature—regimented, concise and technical. Similarly, much writing done in university by non-science students is also rule-bound as required by the standards of scholarship in those disciplines. However, it is also important to be able to communicate academic ideas, including scientific discoveries, in a less intimidating and technical manner and this is what this assignment is about.

In this assignment, you will be converting a research paper (that was published in a scientific journal and deals with migration) into a magazine article. Choose ONE of the scientific articles posted on eClass on the Assignment 2 page for this, you decide which one of these you want to use for this assignment, but only use one (you cannot use the example news articles that are posted as links! You have to choose from one of the posted primary research articles that are posted as pdfs). You will play the role of a free- lance e-zine (=online magazine) science writer, and you will be required to reduce the paper to its essence by creating a non-illustrated* magazine-style piece that your editor requires to fit a space of 500 words, excluding your catchy title. I will deduct 50% if your submission is less than 450 words or more than 550 words, no exceptions! Editors would not publish pieces that are shorter or longer than agreed upon. I have posted links to examples on eClass that show you the type of writing we are seeking – no formal references, no essay styles! Make sure you use your own words, do not copy/paste or directly quote from the articles. Copying and pasting one or several sentences and then just changing a few words still constitutes plagiarism. Besides that, the language in the articles is very technical, so copying directly from them means you are not fulfilling the requirements of this assignments as you are trying to write a news magazine article and NOT a research paper!

You need to have a catchy title that sparks interest. The writing must capture the reader’s attention immediately (you need to have a hook), and it must set up the context almost as fast. The writing should be precise, but not burdened by any jargon. Imagine that you are writing for well-informed adults, but who are not formally trained in ecology or environmental science or migration or biology etc.. Make sure you focus on the overall story of the article (e.g. why the researchers conducted this study, what they found, what this means etc.), you can (and should) quickly summarize how the researchers came to


NATS 1550 F2020

their conclusion, but do not waste your limited space on describing all the methods in great detail (chances are your readers would not understand all of this anyways).

Some comments on format:

Do not use the traditional subheadings of Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion. Remember this is a magazine article NOT a lab report or scientific journal article. It is up to you whether you wish to use any sub-headings at all. No specific font, size, or paragraph formatting (but please use a standard font that is readable) and it does not have to be formatted like a newspaper article, it is the content that counts.

Do not use references; you do not see formal referencing in regular magazines or e-zines (online magazines). If you do wish to refer to someone else’s work within the body of your article, simply do so, such as: “The researchers were interested in following up on an idea proposed by a Dutch group of scientists who had found…” Or, refer to the posted examples to give you an idea how to do this.

All words, excluding title (but including any subheadings, if you have them), are part of the word count (450 to 550 words)

You do not need to create a title page, but you need to write your name and student number and the (original) name of the article you are using at the top of the page, above your article. This information is required and we will deduct points if it is not included. Below that should be your magazine article including your own catchy title that you created for it. At the end, also include your word count.

*Note: If you wish to be creative you may add illustrations, but I will ignore these and not take these into consideration for marking.

What am I looking for?

Articles that

Have a catchy title that immediately grabs a readers’ interest

Right at the start grab my interest and make me want to read on (without being overly

sensational) and hold my interest throughout

Are written in the style of a reputable magazine or newspaper article (not a lab report or essay


Are well-written, flow well and are easy and enjoyable to read

Have a logical structure and present ideas clearly

Do an excellent job accurately presenting the information from the scientific article and in

getting the main points across, without loosing themselves in extraneous details

Cater to a well-informed, but non-specialist audience, e.g. by avoiding jargon

Have good grammar and spelling

Are within the allowed word count range of 450-550 words you will loose 50% of your marks

if you have fewer or more words

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