Journal Analysis Assignment (Modified from Myers)

This assignment contains three main parts:

  1. a rhetorical analysis of the conventions, language, audience, intent, and content of a publication with science writing,
  2. the analysis of an essay or article of your choice from the publication,
  3. a discussion of what you believe it takes to be published in that venue.

This assignment is intended to raise your consciousness and get you thinking more critically about the types of science writing currently being published.


The following general questions will guide your inquiry and organization for the first part of the assignment--the rhetorical analysis of the publication.

  • What overall purpose does the publication serve? Is the overall purpose clear or hidden?
  • How does the publication want to affect or change the reader?
  • How did the publication actually affect you: did its purpose succeed?
  • What types of article does this publication typically include?
  • What type of writer is generally published?


  • Examine one specific article from the publication. What question or problem does the author of the article address?
  • What is the article's title and thesis?
  • What are the key moments or key passages in the text?
  • What assumptions (about the subject, culture, reader, etc.) does the author make?
  • Are there problems or contradictions in the essay?
  • What bothers or disturbs you about the essay?
  • Where do you agree or disagree?
  • Based on the content of the article, who is the intended audience?
  • Are you part of the intended audience?
  • What assumptions do the editors make about the reader's knowledge or beliefs?
  • What context or point of view is the article coming from?


Once you have a general idea of the journal's purpose, audience, and use of language, use the following questions to make some more specific conclusions about the publication:

  • Based on evidence from this publication, what kinds of writing does this discourse "community" engage in?
  • What is the language of that community?
  • What does the language of this community reveal about its conventions, priorities, assumptions, and values?
  • What is required in order to become literate in this community? In other words, how would one begin to participate in discussions at this level?


Lastly, explain what you believe it takes to be published in this journal. Consider the questions above in relation to what appears in the publication. What types of writing does it value or publish? Who is the audience? What are the publication guidelines? How do your conclusions regarding publication in this journal relate to the conclusions drawn from the above rhetorical analysis?


Look over your answers to the questions above. What patterns emerge? What does this publication as a whole suggest about the discourse community that produced it? What would it take for you to join in that conversation? Write a coherent, concise discussion of what you can conclude about writing in this corner of the sciences based on your rhetorical analysis.


  • 5-7 pages
  • Typed, normal font, normal margins
  • First draft due April 4
  • Final draft due April 6