Writing Science to Persuade: The Op/Ed

Project #4
Writing Science to Persuade: The Op/Ed
Draft: 1000 or more words
Final: 750-900 words (standard length for publication)
An op-ed is a short argumentative essay developed for a broad public audience on
an important issue. The genre was named for its original placement in print
newspapers (opposite the editorial page), but as today’s op-eds often appear online
and in audio radio commentary format, the name is commonly used as an
abbreviation for “opinion/editorial.” What hasn’t changed is the genre’s purpose: to
persuade an audience to consider the author’s point-of-view.
Examples of op-eds relating to academic and scholarly fields include a whole series
of op-eds on evolution and “intelligent design” or on artificial intelligence and the
future of the workplace. Some op-eds advocate understanding an issue in public life
within the terms of a specific field. For example, an op-ed in the New York Times
discussed the usefulness of what the author called “cultural geography” in
understanding regional conflict.
For this project, you should be sure that your op-ed relates to your field or discourse
The most successful op-eds make a primary claim (policy-, value-, or fact-based) and
balance their use of rhetorical strategy (logos, ethos, pathos) based on the topic and
public audience. We will evaluate and discuss a series of published examples from a
variety of venues (NYT, WSJ, The Washington Post, and others) in order to identify
genre conventions and best practices. We will also consider publication guidelines
(including those from the NYT’s “Op-Ed and You” and The Op-Ed Project).

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