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 todayâ€™s op-eds often appear online
and in audio radio commentary format, the name is commonly used as an
abbreviation for â€œopinion/editorial.â€ What hasnâ€™t changed is the genreâ€™s purpose: to
persuade an audience to consider the authorâ€™s point-of-view.
Examples of op-eds relating to academic and scholarly fields include a whole series
of op-eds on evolution and â€œintelligent designâ€ 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 â€œcultural geographyâ€ 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 NYTâ€™s â€œOp-Ed and Youâ€ and The Op-Ed Project).