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Research Paper

I've been thinking about the research paper.  The undergrad papers should be 2,500 words, graduate papers 3,250 (about 3 pages longer).  Remember, I want it in HTML & posted on your site.

I'm not very happy with the material on online writing that's  been published through traditional peer-reviewed journals (that you'd find in the MLA or JSTOR databases), so feel free to quote from good material that you find through Google.  Do check out the author and the site to make sure that they know what they're talking about. Of the databases our library subscribes to, the best one of Technical Writing research that I have found is Proquest.

As for the criteria sheet I have posted, I do want you to have a good thesis and a solid outline.  Also add evidence to your argument - quotes, images, videos, etc.

  The paper format should generally be MLA style.  That mainly applies to citation style (parenthetical citation) and the MLA-style bibliography.  I usually use Easybib.com to create bibliographies.

As for how it looks  on the screen, it should look nice and be adaptive to the desktop and to mobile.  You can use the style of this page if you wish & personalize it with your own color scheme, background image, & header image.  Or use the style of your own choosing.  I’ve added a sample of a responsive paper here. It’s a paper from an English 303 Techical Writing class, but it’s a good example of a responsive paper. I’ve put the html, images, and css into a .zip file if you want to use it in writing your own paper. I’ve printed it out as a .pdf because we sometimes do that with web pages. I use the following code:

     <div style="page-break-after: always;"></div>

to create breaks where they need to be in the printout without affecting how they look on the computer. In the print.css file, I have a code that is supposed to keep the images from breaking across pages, but not that many browsers support the code yet.


Since the focus of the class is on the τέχνη of online writing,
I generally would prefer papers to have pragmatic goals rather than strictly academic ones. Most of online writing is technical at least in the sense of format if not the content.  Tables, lists, page grids, pullouts, headings, images, sounds, videos, links many of these are things were brought into HTML from technical writing and professional publishing, while others go far beyond what could be done on paper. I’ve been thinking about issues in online writing and putting together some of the sources that I’ve been able to find. My list may be helpful, so I’m including it below:

Issues in Online Technical Writing

  1. Accessibility
  2. Age
  3. Economics
  4. Gender
  5. Race
    • Kolko, Beth E., Lisa Nakamura; Gilbert B. Rodman.  "The Internet: Creating Equity through Continuous Education or Perpetuating a Digital Divide?" Comparative Education Review 47 (February 2003): 112-133.  JSTOR  <http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/373959>.  Digital divide in the African-American community
  6. Nationality & Language
  7. Privacy
  8. Spam

I think a good topic would be one that you already have a connection to.  For instance, at least one person in our class used to be on the staff at The Tech Talk. I notice that the paper underwent an online upgrade in November 2011.  This upgrade would make a good paper topic.  It would involve using the reporter skills of interviewing. 

  1. Who decided the paper needed a facelift?  Who selected Donnie Bell to create the new site?
  2. How was the process carried out between Bell and the journalism dept?  Was there one person who communicated with him, or did he interact with a committee?
  3. How was WordPress chosen as the CMS (Content Management System)?  How was this particular template chosen?  How was it modified to make it unique to Tech?
  4. Was the Tech Web team involved with the process?  How?
  5. What server is the paper physically located on?  How was it set up to allow WordPress to run on it?
  6. Why was the decision made for the site not to be adaptive?
  7. Who updates the web site?  All the writers? The editor?  Is the same article streamed to go to both the press and the web site so that it only has to be processed once?
  8. And why doesn't the site show up on Google? Are you kidding me?  Like Winston Smith, I understand how; I just don't understand why.  Here's the how: believe it or not, it really is Evil Robots. But why do we want one of our public faces to be invisible online?  This is the flip side of the customary SEO (Search Engine Optimization) that seeks to draw traffic to your site.

Notice that this as a paper would be laying a foundation for your later work designing websites.  How will you get the nod to design a web site?  What templates will you draw on?  What hardware will your site run on?  Who will set that up?  How can you draw attention to your site? A year after going online, my Louisiana Anthology is not only the number 1 item in a Google search; out of 8 items listed on the first page of results, 4 lead to my Anthology. Booyah!

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