ENG 102 Fall 2019 Segment Two Major Project: White Paper/Research Brief SAMPLE ASSIGNMENT A “white paper” can mean many things, so beware of googling the term for resources as examples, as a lot of what comes up is not helpful or relevant to this assignment for ENG 102. The genre of the white paper has been taken up by marketing specialists to mean corporate-sponsored research on a problem facing a company and the marketers’ proposed solutions, but that is not what we mean by “white paper” here. Instead, for the Segment Two project, we’re using the most basic definition of the genre, adapted from Wikipedia: “A white paper is an authoritative report that informs readers concisely about a complex issue and briefly presents the writer’s perspective on the matter. It is meant to help readers understand an issue.” I have underlined the most important parts of this definition, which give you crucial rhetorical information about what to do in this assignment. • Authoritative: This means that you’ve done a lot of research on this issue, problem, or question. When discussing this issue, you know what you’re talking about. You’ve done your homework so you have enough situated ethos, or authority, to present the problem accurately and fairly to your readers. • Report: This is not an argument paper. This is not a paper arguing for or against something, or proposing the best solution. It is a research report, or “research brief,” on the current state of the research on your issue, question or problem. It reports on relevant research and the perspectives of relevant stakeholders. You read a white paper/research brief in Segment One (“Research Brief on ETI Housing Crisis Studies”). This can serve as a helpful guide. • Informs: The purpose of a white paper is to inform (not to persuade). Your purpose in writing this paper is to help your readers understand the issue, problem or question you’ve selected to focus on so that they themselves can consider solutions or make decisions about it. • Readers: The audience for your white paper is not everyone; it is the specific group of readers you identify as wanting to reach. It is a specific (narrow or relatively small) group of people who are particular stakeholders of the problem, or another identifiable group that you think needs to be informed about this issue. You have to compose and design your white paper with your specific audience in mind: What do they already know, think and believe about this problem? What is their relationship to this issue? What would be helpful for them to know to make a decision on this question? • Concisely: White papers are short—for a reason. They assume that readers cannot and will not take a lot of time to read lengthy, technical, or overly-detailed reports. You only have 5-6 pages to inform your readers of everything you know and discovered about this issue through your research. • Complex issue: The challenge of a white paper is to convey to your readers, in very few pages, the complexity of the issue, question or problem you’ve focused on. There are no easy answers or obvious solutions to your issue; if there were, it would already be figured out. Most issues are “wicked” problems, which means that they are so difficult and complex that they are nearly impossible to solve, or a “good” solution ends up creating more and different problems. Don’t oversimplify your issue for your readers. They can’t think about viable ways forward if they don’t appreciate its complexity. • Writer’s perspective: Your own views on the issue are presented briefly in the discussion section of your white paper. As a professional, public-facing report, you will not convey your own ideas on the problem with “I think,” “I believe,” or “I argue” statements. Instead, you’ll state additional facts and findings from your research, along with informed opinions, straightforwardly and authoritatively. Since a white paper is intended to be a professional and public document, please follow these guidelines as you research, compose, revise, design and edit your report. Audience You need to identify, define, and know your readers. Be clear about who you want to reach with your white paper. The smaller, more narrow and more specific your audience, the better—the easier it will be to write for them. Format and design • Make your report look official and authoritative rather than like a school assignment. It needs an informative title, along with your name, the date it was created (finalized), and your institutional affiliation (the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). • Don’t over-do design and or over-use word processing features, but you can use bolding, hyperlinks, bullet points, images/graphics, etc. very judiciously. Sections and headings 1. Introduction: one 250-500 word paragraph describing and setting up the problem, issue or question for your readers. 2. Background: one 250-500 word paragraph giving readers background information about the problem, issue or question. 3. 2-4 thematic/topical sections with titles as headings: Organize your report of research thematically or by sub-topics. (See the ETI housing crisis research brief as an example, where the writers discuss relevant research in three areas: Milwaukee County Analysis, Drilldown on Milwaukee…, and Vital Signs….) Each of these sections can be one to three paragraphs long. Each should clearly reference and accurately summarize the relevant research. Each section should have a title/heading. 4. Discussion: one 250-500 word paragraph explaining to readers the key take-aways from the research. This is where your own informed views on the issue are conveyed to readers. NOTE: Sections 1-4 should all use in-text citations to refer clearly to the research you’re describing and relying upon to make your points. 5. Bibliography: Provide a complete and accurate bibliography (in accurate MLA or APA format) so that your readers can find and consult the same research you did. (If you want, you can add a second bibliography, called something like “Further Reading,” “Additional Information,” “Related News Coverage,” etc. if you want to direct your readers to other useful, but more ancillary, sources not covered in your report.) When you submit the final draft of your paper, you will evaluate yourself in the following areas. I will use these, too, and consider your self-assessments when I give you feedback and grade your paper. See below. First, some essential questions about your essay: • Format: I have followed the format exactly as described on the assignment and follow the genre convention of a White Paper. Y/N • Research: I have used the research skills I learned in Segment Two and read through multiple sources. I have carefully curated min. 10 useful sources. Y/N • Purpose: The purpose of my paper is to inform my reader of the knowledge they need to know. Y/N • I have included my own perspective as informed opinions based on the research I have done and can refer to. I am only including my own perspective in the designated section. Y/N If your essay meets these basic and most important requirements, it qualifies you to receive at least 70 points. Now we can discuss additional components of your essay. 1. Reflect on whom your intended reader for this White Paper is and what you considered in terms of appropriately, concisely and ethically informing them on the issue you wrote about: 2. Explain how you establish your own academic ethos through accurate citation and formatting, in addition to relatively error-free prose. 3. Reflect on your process of selecting and including perspectives of multiple and various rhetors and genres. Also, reflect on the importance of having diverse sources. 4.Explain what you believe you have done successfully in writing this White Paper: 5. Reflect on what you might have done differently looking back at the whole process of writing this White Paper: ~~~For this or similar assignment papers~~~
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