Take a closer look at how academic research is conducted in your discipline’s discourse community. In particular, understanding how a
scholarly article in your discipline is constructed will give you a better understanding of how
knowledge is made in that discourse community.
This assignment should have two main parts:
I. A brief (100-150 word) summary of the main idea of the article. (Do not simply base this
summary on the abstract of the article.)
II. An analysis of the article, taking into consideration the following points from the Johns
• How does the article introduce the main topic and argument? What assumptions do the
writers seem to make about the audience?
• How do the authors situate their study in relation to other research that has been done in
their discipline (or in other disciplines)? How do they use their sources?
• What kinds of specialized language does the article use, and how does that language
indicate who the audience of the article is meant to be? (Note that you should also
consider more non-discursive elements, such as tables, graphs, illustrations, etc.)
• How do the authors use metadiscourse to direct readers through the text?
• How do the authors use hedging tactics when presenting arguments or conclusions? What
are the effects of that hedging?
• How are the authors “absent” from the text? How do they use grammar and lexis to
distance themselves from the text? Alternatively, how are the authors “present” in the
text? How do they appear as people with particular lived experiences? How do their
decisions about whether or not to be present in their texts affect your confidence in their
objectivity? (Does objectivity even seem to be a concern for them?)
• What “vision of reality” do the authors present, and how does it represent the
assumptions of the authors’ discourse community? Think about what the article is
implying about what kinds of research questions are asked in your discipline and what
kinds of methods are appropriate for answering those questions—and why. How does the
article represent, in other words, how the authors think like __ (architects,
accountants, biologists, engineers, etc.)? (See Repko’s discussions of disciplinary
perspective and epistemology.) Another way of thinking about this is to ask of the article,
“Why is this considered research?”
Choosing an article to analyze:
Your main source for this assignment will be a research article published in a scholarly journal in
your field. It’s very important that you work with the right kind of article from the right kind of
publication, so follow these steps for choosing your article:
Review “What is a scholarly (or peer-reviewed) journal?”(from Simon Fraser University)
Review the research tutorial videos from Northeastern University’s library entitled
“Scholarly vs. Non-Scholarly Sources” and “Is this Article Peer-Reviewed?”
Use the NU library E-Journal Finder to find a journal from your discipline. If you don’t
know the titles of any scholarly journals in your field, you can try by typing in the name
of your field (for instance, I could try typing in “rhetoric” or “composition,” and someone
in industrial engineering might type in “industrial engineering.”)
To make sure that the periodical you have chosen is a peer-reviewed (or “refereed”)
journal, use the Ulrich’s Directory. See the instructions for using Ulrich’s Directory here.
Choose an article published in the last 5 years. Make sure that it is a research article,
and not an editorial, book review, interview, literature review, etc. It helps to find an
article on a topic that interests you, but note that for this assignment, you don’t have to
fully understand or explain the content of the article.
Find the PDF version of the article, download it, and email it to me for my review and
approval before you begin to summarize and analyze it.
Your paper should follow the format for scholarly articles in your discipline. See the links on
Blackboard for help and/or look at the format of the article you are analyzing.
When you submit the FINAL draft, please also write a reflection letter (500-750 words)
addressing what you’ve gained from writing this assignment. For your reflection, you should
write about the process you went through in writing the article analysis. Consider the following
questions, but do not simply list out answers to the questions—rather, discuss the experience of
writing and revising the project in light of the questions. Don’t be afraid to write about
difficulties and even failures—sometimes we learn more from them than we do from success.
• What were some of the challenges that you faced as you worked on this project? How did
you address those challenges–what did you do? Do you feel that you succeeded in
meeting those challenges? Why or why not?
• About the assignment: This assignment asked you to observe and analyze your own
discipline using the concepts and practices of another discipline (or disciplines)—that of
writing studies and linguistics. How did attempting to use another discipline’s methods
and concepts change your perspective on the making of knowledge and what constitutes
• How did the peer work help you revise your analysis? What about the peer work helped
the most? (For example, getting feedback in writing, discussing your projects with each
other, seeing how partners were addressing the same assignment…) What didn’t help (if
anything) and why?
• Consider your experience with this project in light of the Writing Program Student
Learning Goals. (See the syllabus for the list of the goals.) Which of the goals do you
think this project has addressed? How? (Be specific.) Note: I don’t expect that this project
has enabled you to “master” any of the goals (some of the goals are ones that take years
to master—if ever). But you should consider how you might have made some progress on
some of the goals.
Include this reflection in the same file with the final draft when you submit it. Missing
reflection letters will lower your grade for the assignment.
• Appropriate article chosen for analysis (research article published in a reputable peerreviewed scholarly journal)
• Summary demonstrates careful reading and a clear understanding of the article
• Analysis demonstrates careful reading and an understanding of both the article and Johns’
discussion of academic textual practices
• Demonstrates careful crafting, including formatting, with respect for student’s primary
• Shows effective use of citation conventions appropriate to the discipline (proper use of
quotation marks, references)
• Drafts were turned in on time
• Revisions reflect engagement with peer and instructor feedback and with writer’s own
developing understanding of their project
• Includes engaged self-reflection letter.