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PROFESSIONAL AUDIENCE: REFERENCE DOCUMENT AND COVER DOCUMENT Assignment Description In our first unit, you carefully and critically considered a specific example of writing in your discipline and worked to analyze its features and functions, the special ways it communicated knowledge to its specific audience, the special ways it presented ideas and information, the ways it represented the discursive interests of an interdisciplinary audience. Our second unit asks you to write an original document to which someone might refer for guidance or instruction. Ideally, this person would be a professional in the disciplines familiar to you from Unit 1, and especially your own discipline, because then you can further your understanding of communication in this discipline. (But while this is desired, it is not required; it in fact may be difficult for you, given your developing disciplinary expertise, to accurately write such a document.) Depending on your disciplinary interests, a variety of reference documents can be written, including technical specifications, instructional documents, maps, guides, user manuals, technical memoranda, laboratory protocols, charts, tables. There may be other possibilities you know better than I, and I welcome your suggestions. Your document should ideally address a specific problem or gap in knowledge faced by its specific audience. It should work carefully, cogently, precisely, and appealingly to fill that gap or solve that problem. Upon reading your document, your audience should know, feel, understand, conceptualize, or be able to do something specific it could not before. You’ll make your own choice of reference document you’d like to write. Find a gap in knowledge that needs a reference document and fill it. Examples: a conference poster reporting research results; a table of performance values; a set of specifications on how to install a device; a set of specifications for computer code; a research protocol; instructions for a grant application; a guide to operating a spectrophotometer; a map of voter patterns over time. You are encouraged (though not required) to pick a topic for your reference documentation that is related to your work in Unit 1, and indeed to continue your concentration in a topic through your writing for the term. You might choose to work on a reference document related to co-op. Students often report that orienting or instructional documents for new co-op students are often needed at a workplace, but scarce or poorly written. Revision of an existing reference document from co-op or other workplace is also a good opportunity as is, of course, the composition of something entirely new that fills a specific need. You might choose to work on a document that serves an organization on campus. If an original and technically accurate document in your discipline—which may require research, and so can draw on library or other resources to which I’ll point you, if necessary— seems beyond your comfortable grasp at this time, you might consider writing a reference document for which you can draw on your own certain expertise and interests: a set of specifications for painting your room, a map of best jogging/training routes, a guide to gearing ratios for bicycles, a guide to building a treehouse, etc. Be imaginative in composing your reference document. If you’d like to experiment with form in print—posters, brochures, or booklets of special size—or electronically—web pages, Wikipedia pages, apps, videos, screencasts—you are heartily encouraged to do so. The forms by which we receive our reference knowledge, even professionally, are expanding in number. Some accessible resources for composing web pages are available on our course Blackboard site and you are welcome to use these or others. Your reference document must be preceded by a formal cover document of less than one page properly addressed


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