21W.777 | Spring 2017 | Undergraduate

Science Writing in Contemporary Society


Reading Journal

Reading journals will comprise responses to readings and to your chosen science website. Journal entries on readings will provide ideas for class discussion and for your first essay. The entries on your website will provide material for your oral presentation.


  • You are required to read ALL of the semester’s readings and prepare to discuss them in class. But you only have to write Journal entries for 4-5 readings. (You may of course write more if you wish.)
  • What to include in your reflection? You may respond to the science issues raised, i.e., respond to the discussion provided by the writer. You may want to talk about choices the writer made in shaping the essay, such as how it’s organized, the way a “character” is used to move the discussion forward or to raise particular points, the level of complexity and the way the writer relates to readers … You may even wish to “go meta,” and reflect on an issue about presenting science issues to the public that a particular reading raises for you. You may use some readings to frame reflection on other readings.
  • The remaining 3-4 Journal entries should reflect on what you are noticing about the web site you are following: what is the web environment like? What is foregrounded? How are sections and or stories arranged (sequential? embedded? etc.) How do the visual elements enhance and/or distract from the experience of reading the stories? What’s the tone of the stories like? Does it feel consistent; does it change with writers and/or topics? What seems successful in the way material is presented? What do you think could be improved? What raises questions for you? Don’t worry too much about making judgments initially as you read around the site: it’s fine to focus your first couple of responses on simply describing what you see. By your 3rd entry or so, see if you can describe the effect of what you are noticing.

Length & format

  • Aim for ~1 page double-spaced per response, and a minimum of 8 responses total. (Note: It’s fine to respond to more than 1 reading for a given class, i.e., if you want to front-load your reading responses, that’s fine.
  • Please word process your responses: it will be easier for me to read them, and you may want to paste some of your comments into one of your essays.
  • I’ll collect your Journals from time to time. All Journals complete by Session 23.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2017
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments