Translating a Scholarly Article in Your Field of Study for a Public Audience - Essay Prowess

Translating a Scholarly Article in Your Field of Study for a Public Audience


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Translating a Scholarly Article in Your Field of Study for a Public Audience


The goal of this assignment is to compare an empirical research study in your field of study with its translation into an article written for a public audience. 

There are three parts to this assignment:

  • locate, read, and analyze a recently published scholarly article in your academic discipline that addresses a topic of interest to you and the general public
  • locate a “translated” (rewritten) article on the same subject in a new genre appropriate to a public audience—either a newspaper/newsfeed article, a magazine article or a press release
  • write reflective annotations about the choices the public author made as they wrote their translation

PURPOSES: After completing this assignment, you should be able to

  • analyze the rhetorical features of scholarly writing in your discipline and public writing
  • Identify the conventions of various genres of scholarly, professional, and public writing
  • To write with an awareness of how the rhetorical situation and rhetorical context influence the structure, language, and reference conventions (SLRs) writers use to achieve their purpose in writing to specific audiences.

GENRES: One of three popular genres (newspaper article, magazine article or press release), as compared to an empirical academic study

TONE: journalistic for the popular, commercial press


Choose a topic which is meaningful both to your discipline and to you personally.

Survey the professional journals and/or library databases to identify an article in your field that you feel exhibits the characteristics of a top-quality scientific publication.

Make sure the author has appropriate credentials for his/her/their research

Choose an article written within the last 5 years so information will be current

Be sure that the article is one you clearly understand. The article should be a minimum of 3 pages long and preferably no more than 15 pages long.  Save it as a PDF file.

BE SURE that you have chosen a study which reports an actual experiment carried out by the author(s), organized in IMRAD style. (Sections may have slightly different titles if it is obvious that they follow the same order as an IMRAD article.)

DO NOT SELECT an editorial, a theoretical model, a case study, a report, a preprint (article written but not yet accepted by a respected journal), a review of literature, a survey or a meta-analysis. 


After you choose your scholarly article, read it carefully so that you understand what it conveys.

You may choose the same article that you used for the previous assignment, Analyzing Academic Writing.  However, you may choose another article if you wish, as long as it is a scholarly piece about recent research in your field.

Next, identify a new audience and genre for a public treatment of the same topic. The objective is to shift the audience from an academic one to a public one.

  • You may choose a magazine article to a general audience of people interested in your field, a newspaper article that reports research findings, or a press release.
  • Select either a major national/international publication, or one specifically targeted to the members of your professional discourse community


Practice before you begin annotating. Using the readings in the Course Schedule plus any others you wish, closely analyze an example or two of the kind of genre the writer was attempting to create and consider how those genre examples fulfill the expectations of the target audience.

Your project will be assessed according to its ability to detect those genre expectations, so you will need to explain the rhetorical changes and other choices the writer had to make in changing from academic writing style, content and organization to a public-facing article type.

Gather evidence of all four elements of the rhetorical context: author, audience, topic, purpose in addition to the five important criteria for evaluating sources used in the previous assignment. Check the Scoring Rubric to be sure you have covered all criteria.


Once you have located an effective public article, download it and save it as a PDF file.

When you find an aspect of the two articles that you wish to compare or contrast, highlight the passages in BOTH ARTICLES

Open THE PUBLIC ARTICLE, using the same procedure as the Academic Analysis Annotations to annotate this article to highlight differences and similarities between it and the empirical study.  You do NOT need to annotate the empirical article.

  • NOTE: As with the academic analysis, you may save your article as a .docx file and use the Comment function to insert your annotations if you do not have access to Adobe Acrobat software.

Write as though your reader has never read the academic article, so is relying on your current annotations for all the insights and evidence they need. BE SURE to give specific examples or facts from the academic article in your annotations.

As part of your analysis, consider the rhetorical choices the writer made as they constructed the translation. Offer a rationale for each of the author’s decisions that connects the features of the transition to your larger rhetorical context. For example, if they had to translate the title of the scholarly article for a public audience, explain why the new title is the most appropriate on for a public audience.



This assignment does not require you to incorporate secondary sources, but if you feel it is appropriate to your reader and the genre you chose, then do so. Just make sure to include a references page at the end of the essay.

It is more important to think about how you will incorporate evidence from the scholarly article you are translating. Public audiences appreciate a quotation or two, but you will find that writers rely more heavily on summary and paraphrase in translating the article for a general reader.  Summary and paraphrase require citations just as much as direct quotations.

CITE all information that does not originate with you. This will require a References Page which, at a minimum, contains the scholarly study and source of information about the popular publication you selected. Add it to the end of your public article file.

  • Use the documentation style and manuscript format for your academic discipline


  • Revise and proofread your annotations.  Make sure that the tone of your analysis is academic. When it is coherent, interesting, insightful and free of mechanical errors, prepare to submit it.
  • Save the academic article as a .pdf file.
  • Name it Academic Article yourlastname
  • Save the annotated public article as a .pdf file. 
  • Name your annotated file Public Writing Yourlastname.
  • Return to the link for Instructions for Public Writing in the Public Writing folder.
  • Upload BOTH the original scholarly study and the annotated public article.
  • If necessary, see the tutorial “How to Submit an Assignment in Blackboard Learn.”
  • Be sure to upload by midnight on the due date, since penalties for late work are severe. (See Course Completion and Grading Policies in the Course Description.

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