Problem Description and Research
The fifth assignment, a problem description and annotated list of
references, will actually serve as your preliminary writing and research for the final project in this class-- a recommendation report. You will, in other words, use the same topic for the remaining assignments in this class.
To come up with a good topic for your problem statement and annotated list of references, please think ahead to the recommendation report.
Chapters 10 and 11 in Reep's Technical Writing (3rd ed.) provide examples of recommendation reports.
Specifically, pages 354-55, #5, 6, 8, and 9 could all be adapted to these last
assignments if you need some ideas for topics.
For now, concentrate on the preliminary stages of the project: the problem statement and the annotated list of references. You'll need to bring a DRAFT of your problem statement and annotated list of references to a required planning meeting with your conference professor next week (Oct. 28-30).
The final version of the problem statement and annotated list of
references is due in your professor's mailbox in 231 Stansbury on
or before the date listed in the
If you have a question about any aspect of this assignment, please contact your conference professor.
PART 1: PROBLEM DESCRIPTION
In a two-page memo, convince your audience (both your conference professor and the readers you intend for the final recommendation report that grows out of this assignment) that you are the appropriate worker to research and solve a specific problem.
Cover the following points in your problem description. These points are based on Reep's outline on pages 322-333.
- PROVIDE CONTEXT. Identify the audience and situation for the initial problem statement and (long term) the final recommendation report. Where or for whom, specifically, does the problem exist? Who will pay for the research costs? Who will review the problem and (down the line) your recommended solutions? Who has the authority to act on your suggestions? What is your relationship to that person? What is your position as a writer? (E.g., are you a paid consultant? are you a member of the company?) What will your reader(s) need to know? How will you establish your authority and convince readers that you are the best person to research and solve the problem you identify?
- DESCRIBE THE PROBLEM that you have identified in detail. Be specific.
- EXPLAIN HOW the problem affects company operations or costs. Be specific.
- EXPLAIN WHY the problem requires a solution. Be specific.
- Give the BACKGROUND of the problem or situation. If a problem is an old one, point out when it began and mention any previous attempts to solve it.
- Indicate the PURPOSE of the recommendation report that you will
- INTRODUCE THE ANNOTATED LIST OF REFERENCES by explaining what you have researched to date, how you chose your sources of data, and what else you plan to research for the final project.
PART 2: ANNOTATED LIST OF REFERENCES
See chapter 9 (pp. 248-254) for information on the APA format for the list of references.
An annotated list of references describes or evaluates the subject and scope of several research sources (scholarly articles, magazine articles, newspaper reports, book chapters, etc.) that you think will be useful for your final ENGL 208 project: the recommendation report.
Use APA format for the list of references. Cite at least five current
articles (nothing older than two years) that reflect a range of sources. The annotations should include at least four sentences (Strenski, 1996; Woodworth, 1988). The content of the four sentences is described below. You'll find an example after the description.
THE 4-SENTENCE PATTERN OF ANNOTATION
[Note: Block indent the annotation.]
- SENTENCE 1: An accurate, specific, and descriptive verb (e.g., "argues", "claims," "explains") and a clause that reports the author's thesis. (See example below.)
- SENTENCE 2: A brief but accurate explanation of how the author develops or supports the thesis, usually in the same order as the main points in the source. (See example below.)
- SENTENCE 3. A statement of the author's purpose that answers the question "Why did the author bother to write this?" (See example below.)
- SENTENCE 4. A description of the intended audience for the source you are citing. (See example below.)
SAMPLE APA CITATION AND ANNOTATION
Trudeau, P. E. (1992, September). Trudeau speaks out. Maclean's, 22-26.
[SENTENCE 1] Former Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, argues against Quebec's demands for the Charlottetown accord. [SENTENCE 2] He uses examples from past Québécois negotiations to illustrate his claims that Quebec uses guilt tactics and blackmail to get Canada to agree to its demands. [SENTENCE 3] Trudeau paints a less than favorable view of Quebec's history to create sympathy for the Canadian government's position on the Charlottetown accord. [SENTENCE 4] Maclean's is a moderate Canadian news magazine (like Time in the U.S.) whose readers are generally high school and/or college-educated and reasonably informed about national events; the readers will recognize Trudeau's authority as former prime minister of Canada, and many will automatically accept his view on the Charlottetown accord because of his past position.
At your conference, you and your professor will go over the following
points. You want to be certain that you are clear on each of these points
as you revise your problem statement and annotated list of references
and then submit your final copy.
ABOUT YOUR TOPIC
- Have you chosen an area you already know something about and one where
you have FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE?
(That is, choose something in your major, or something from
your work or university experience).
- Have you considered the SCOPE of your project? Choose a topic you can
do justice to in a short (5+ pp) proposal.
- Have you chosen a topic that can be made relevant to a SPECIFIC KIND OF
For instance, if you choose a topic like improving
employee morale via work incentives, the program would work
differently with employees at a fast-food chain than it
would with professors at a university.
ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH
- Have you gathered a RANGE OF CURRENT SOURCES? Are all sources from the
last two years?
- four articles should come from professional, academic journals--those
specific to a field (like the ones you used for the translation assignment).
- one article should be from current magazines for generally-educated
audiences such as Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, or from
topic-specific magazines for a generally-educated reader such as Scientific
American, Technology Review, Psychology Today, Discover, Omni, Wired.
- one article may come from the web, but make sure that it meets the
following criteria: (1) it has been written for an expert audience, (2)
it's recognized in your field as a credible source, and (3) you are certain
that the article is current (within the last six months). If you do choose
a web-based article, please make sure you have the web address (URL), the
full title of the page, an author or organization, and the date it was
written. If you can't document, the last two points, the source is
probably not fully credible and, thus, a poor choice for this assignment.
- Textbooks are not acceptable.
The problem statement and annotated list of references builds on the
skills you've already been developing in the first four assignments. You
will once again need to use the audience awareness, organization
principles, and document design skills that you used in the first two
assignments; you will also draw on global and fine-tuning revision
strategies from the editing assignment. This assignment, like the
instruction manual, asks you to establish credibility in two ways: first
hand knowledge and research. Like the instruction manual, it asks you to
consider organization strategies.
Assignment 5 is important because it provides the basis for your last
assignment: the recommendation report.
When we evaluate Assignment 5, we will be looking at four areas:
We refer you to the basic criteria for an A, B, C, D, or F outlined in
- PROBLEM STATEMENT:
- PROVIDES FULL CONTEXT STATEMENT. (Audience, purpose, your position
as a writer, specific strategies, etc.)
- DESCRIBES THE PROBLEM in specific detail.
- EXPLAINS HOW the problem affects company operations or costs.
- EXPLAINS WHY the problem requires a solution.
- Gives the BACKGROUND of the problem or situation.
- Indicates the PURPOSE of the future recommendation report.
- INTRODUCES THE ANNOTATED LIST OF REFERENCES.
- ANNOTATED LIST OF REFERENCES:
- Uses correct APA format for each references.
- Cites at least five current articles (nothing older than two years).
- Reflects a *range of sources*.
Annotations include at least four sentences
(about thesis, support, purpose, and audience).
- ATTENTION TO FORMAT AND ORGANIZATION
- Set up as a short memo report
- Presents material in an organized manner
- Uses headings, paragraphing, spacing, and typography well.
- ATTENTION TO FINE-TUNING REVISIONS:
- Improving SENTENCE STYLE (pp. 134-137)
- Improving WORD CHOICES (pp. 138-145)
- Avoiding WORDINESS (pp. 145-46)
- Avoiding PASSIVE VOICE when possible (pp. 137-138)
- Avoiding SUBJECT-VERB disagreements and other
grammatical errors (see pp. 433-434)
- Using PUNCTUATION correctly (see pp. 434-438)
- PROOFREADING carefully (p. 134 and pp. 448-449)
LIST OF REFERENCES FOR THIS ASSIGNMENT
Reep, D. (1997). Technical writing : Principles, strategies, and readings (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Strenski, E. (1996, October). Annotated bibliography (On-line).
Woodworth, M. K. (1988). The rhetorical precis.Rhetoric Review, 7 (1), 156-163.
Questions? Contact your conference professor.
Return to ENGL 208 Main Page