Indicative Abstract (10% of grade): Prompt and Rubric

See the schedule for deadlines.

How this assignment meets Syllabus Outcomes and Objectives:

Written Communication Skills Learning Outcomes:

  1. Understand how to incorporate research responsibly and effectively into an extendedpiece of academic writing.
  2. Develop a repertoire of effective and ethical rhetorical tools for academic writing tasks.
  3. Read popular, academic, and professional nonfiction writing analytically and critically.

Course Objectives:

  • Refine academic writing processes and become familiar with online library resources for technical, scientific, and public discourse about climate change;
  • Learn to properly abstract, summarize, document and adapt source material for public and professional contexts;

Purpose: An abstract can serve one of two purposes: 1) the informative research abstract: it can provide a brief summary of a larger, published article, allowing researchers to search and browse content in a database; 2) the indicative proposal abstract: it can be submitted to a Call-For-Proposals (CFP) as a means of getting in to a conference or publication. For this assignment, you’ll be writing an indicative proposal abstract.

Role:While it isn’t required for the class, I do encourage you to use our coursework to present or publish in formal academic settings (conferences or journals). You are a research assistant in a formal study.If you do publish, you must include Dr. Daniel Richards and my name as primary investigators, and include the names of all classmates as research assistants in an Acknowledgements section (since we’ve all helped you extensively). Because I’m encouraging you to publish, you could potentially use this abstract as the proposal you submit to a CFP. I’ll be notifying you of ODU conferences and journals that would be a great space for this.

Audience: Because you might submit this to a conference CFP, imagine an academic audience (researchers and scholars in the fields of usability testing, technical communication, environmental communication, service learning, or undergraduate research). As a result, you’ll want to review sample abstracts and proposals to get a feel for academic language, style, and tone.

Format: 250-300 words (brevity is key in abstract writing). Use APA style to format any citations used in the body of the Abstract. No references are required to complete this assignment.

Approach the Abstract by breaking it down in the following way:

Roughly first 200 words:
Your abstract should briefly identify the purpose of our class’s study and its role and impact on the community that interacts with it. Indicate that this is a non-profit client-based service learning project for an introductory Technical and Scientific writing course.

Indicate the roles of researchers:
Client: Dan Rizza, Climate Central
Primary Investigators: Dr. Daniel Richards and Mrs. Megan McKittrick
Investigators: the students of ENGL 231C.

Next, indicate what methods will be employed based on the pre-designed protocol (see Blackboard), using terminology about testing procedures from our reading on Usability Testing as well as the protocol (avoid copying wording verbatim. I want to see you articulate it in your own words).

Roughly second 50-100 words:
Finally, your abstract should explain why the argument you intend to make will be important. What will it add to scholarship in the field? How will it contribute to the larger conversations about risk communication and climate change, about usability testing and Web tools, about service learning and technical communication courses?
(Use class discussion notes to do your best with this section. There’s no right answer, and this will become clearer in your Research Review assignment later in the course)


1)In your “Lastname_231C” folder in Google Drive, add a folder titled “Assignments”

2)In your Assignments folder in Google Drive, add a folder for this assignment, called “Abstract.” Within it, create the following sub-folders:

  1. Drafts
  2. Notes
  3. Reflection

3)Upload a copy of this document (the assignment description) to the “Abstract” folder you created.

4)Create a rough draft of the Abstract

5)Submit a copy of your rough draft to the Assignments section in Blackboard, to the Abstract folder. This should be a Word document (or a file type compatible with Word).

6)Upload a copy of your rough draft to the “Drafts” sub-folder in your “Abstract” folder within your Google Drive folder

7)Perform a peer review:

  1. Go to Blackboard, to the Peer Review section, to determine who you’re working with for this round of peer reviews.
  2. Reread the prompt requirements.
  3. Go to the Assignments section, to the Abstract folder, and open a copy of the peer review worksheet. Then click on the Rough Drafts link.
  4. Locate your peers’ rough drafts, open, paste in the peer review worksheet at the bottom of the file, and save.
  5. Insert comments and mark changes throughout the draft, fill out the peer review worksheet, save.
  6. Locate your peers’ rough drafts in Blackboard again. Under their original submission, click “Reply.” Attach your peer reviewed version of their rough draft, and click “Submit.”

8)Using your classmates’ feedback, revise your rough draft and submit a fresh final draft; upload it as “Final Draft” to the “Drafts” folder in your “Abstract” folder in your Google Drive folder.

9)Upload a 150-word reflection to your “Reflection” sub-folder in your Google Drive. This reflection should briefly discuss how and why this assignment demonstrates you’re working toward one, or more, of the course and assignment learning objectives/outcomes (see this prompt and the syllabus for assignment and course learning objectives/outcomes).

10)Review my feedback opening your Final Draft and your Reflection in Google Drive. Comments will be inserted there. The Grading Rubric will be in your “Abstract” folder in your Google Drive folder.

Grading Rubric:

Google drive folder points awarded:
Correct formatting, organization, and file naming according to Tasks section of the prompt: up to 0.25 points
Incorrect: 0 points

Notes folder points awarded:
At least 80% of in-class activities, lectures, or exercises related to this assignment and at least two documents representing some form of out-of-class work: up to 0.25 points
Missing from folder/late: 0 points

Rough draft points awarded:

At least 150 wordsand responds to the prompt: up to 1 points

Late/Less than 150 words (or equivalent) and responds to the prompt: up to 0.5 points

Missing from folder or does not respond to the prompt: 0 points


Peer review points awarded:

Both reviews are thoughtful, thorough, and helpful and follow instructions in the Tasks section of the prompt: up to 0.5 point

Only one review completed/only one review follows instructions in the Tasks section of the prompt: up to 0.25 points

Both reviews missing/late, or do not follow the instructions in the Tasks section of the prompt: 0 points


Final draft points awarded:

Based on criteria in the Deliverables section of the prompt: up to 7.5 points

The final draft was submitted on time?

Yes: no point deductions

No: 0.375-point deduction per day late for a total deduction of:


Reflection points awarded:

Based on criteria in the Tasks section of the prompt: up to 0.5 points
Missing from folder/Late: 0 points


Extra credit points applied (cannot exceed assignment max assignment points):

Assignment total (out of 10):