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Ethics and Analysis of Informative Writing

Ethics and Analysis of Informative Writing

Author: Mackenzie W

Recognize ethical responsiblities when writing in the informative mode.

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Hi, everyone. I'm Mackenzie and today we're learning about ethics and analysis in informative writing. Have you ever wondered how you can figure out if a piece of writing is fair or ethical? In this tutorial, we'll learn about informative writing and ethics, we'll analyze an example of an analysis essay, and we'll analyze an example of a process essay.

We'll begin by discussing the connection between informative writing and ethics. When we are writing informative writing, it's important for us to be as ethical as possible. This means being objective, being fair, neutral, and unbiased. When we write informative writing, we're presenting the information as fairly as possible. We have to make sure that we're not skewing the information because of our own biases. That means that when we think about the topic we're writing about, we also have to be objective about whether or not we have biases toward that topic. And if we do, we have to consider addressing them in the writing, so that we can continue to present the information fairly, accurately, and in an unbiased manner.

Some examples of communicating information in an unbiased way include misrepresenting, skewing, leaving out, or ignoring important pieces of information. For example, perhaps I'm writing an informative essay about the benefits of sun exposure, but I leave out or I ignore the fact that too much sun exposure could lead to sunburn, which could cause skin cancer. If I'm presenting the information in such a way that makes it seem as though sun exposure is healthy and I leave out the fact that sun exposure can sometimes be unhealthy, I'm actually being unethical.

Here's another example. Perhaps I'm writing a process essay about how to prevent identity theft and I misrepresent the nature of identity theft. I try to make it seem like it's a much larger problem than it actually is to try to scare the readers into continuing to read my writing. That would also be unethical. It's important for us to be as objective and fair as possible when we're communicating information.

Next, we are going to analyze an example of an analysis essay. We're going to read the essay, and then we'll look at the different ways in which the essay is written and the ways in which the information is presented. Take a moment to pause the video and read the essay. I'll be showing you three paragraphs from the essay. It is actually a very long essay. Once you've finished reading the first paragraph, unpause the video. The next paragraph will appear.

While you were reading the three paragraphs from this particular essay, you may have noticed that this essay is very academic. It's written in a very complex, high-level academic sort of manner. The top of this slide tells us that this is Body Paragraph number 10. That means that this excerpt came from a much larger piece of writing. That's important for us to keep in mind as we analyze this piece of work.

We'll start out by thinking about the type of writing and the purpose of the writing. The thesis statement of this particular essay tells us "Bakhtin's Theory of Dialogics sheds uncertainty on the idea of linguistic creativity, suggesting the possibility that the limiting nature of language prevents true linguistic creativity from taking place." This tells us that the paper is going to be analyzing a theory called Bakhtin's Theory of Dialogics. That gives us some insight that this is going to be a rather complex topic, because we are analyzing different components of something that is very theoretical in nature.

Now we can think about the tone and style of this piece of informative writing. The tone is very academic. The reader is using vocabulary and sentence structure that communicates in a very academic, high-level type of way. If you found this particular example to be confusing, that could be the reason why. It's written in a way that only a specific audience will understand. Having had read the rest of the paper may have also made this easier for us to understand. Looking at just three paragraphs prevents us from having a full context with which we can understand the essay.

You may have also noticed that this author uses longer sentences to communicate the ideas, which is part of the style, the way that the writing sounds. Because this is an academic piece of writing, we know that the author has probably crafted his or her writing to make it sound sophisticated, to make it sound as though he or she knows what he or she is talking about. And now we can think about the ways in which the information is presented. Remember, it's informative writing, which means that it needs to be as ethical or objective as possible. We see this being demonstrated in these three paragraphs.

Paragraph 10 introduces us to the idea that there is some disagreement about the topic being discussed here. The disagreement is whether or not this theory is, in fact, useful or valid. Paragraph 11 describes to us why it is that some experts disagree with the utility or the usefulness of the theory. And Paragraph 12 describes why the disagreement about the usefulness of the theory that we're analyzing here is significant.

The author is attempting to communicate this information as objectively as possible by saying, here is an idea, not everybody agrees with it, here's why they don't agree, and here's why that disagreement is significant. If the author were to have only stated one part of the disagreement, stating that experts agree with the theory or that experts disagree with the theory, that could be unethical. The author is being ethical by presenting both sides of the argument.

We are now going to take a look at an example of a process essay. Again, take a moment to pause the video and read. There will be three paragraphs. Once you've read the first paragraph, unpause the video. The next paragraph will appear. Then we'll discuss the ways in which we can analyze this process essay.

This essay is very informal. It's almost as though this is written for a blog or other piece of informal writing. We know that the type of writing is a process essay. This essay is telling us how to do something. It's giving us a set of directions in a particular order. And we know, based on the thesis, that the purpose of this writing is to inform us about how to make creme brulee.

To analyze this writing, let's first think about the tone and the style with which it's written. The tone is very informal, very lighthearted. The reason we know that is, first, because of the topic. The topic of how to bake a dessert is much less intense than the topic we saw in our previous example, the topic of analyzing a complex language theory. That also helps us to understand the style being used. The style is also lighthearted. It's fun. The author even includes exclamation points. The author uses the words "I" and "you" in a very informal context.

And now we think about the ways in which the information is presented. Because this is informative writing, we want the information to be objective to be fair. Body Paragraph number 1 gives us a clue to the objectivity here. The author mentions that if you are dieting, be aware that this particular dessert has 580 calories per serving. That was an important piece of information for the author to include, so that the reader doesn't somehow misinterpret the nature of this particular dessert discussed in this essay.

The author is also being ethical and presenting information objectively in Body Paragraph 2 by saying, "by the way, in order to be prepared so that you can successfully do what I have described in this process essay, you will need this equipment." By making sure that the reader knows what is included in the steps and what equipment is needed, the reader will have less chance of being disappointed by not being able to complete the steps as the author has described.

To help us to understand the author's objectivity a little more, we can even think about the rhetorical situation of this author related to this topic. It sounds as though this author has quite a bit of practice preparing this particular dessert. Because the author has a strong connection to the topic and practice regarding the topic, that can be part of this author's rhetorical situation. The author has some sort of relevant connection to the topic and therefore has some credibility related to the topic. That's all part of the ways in which the author chose to present the information. If this author had never experienced making this particular dessert before, the information in this process essay might have been communicated a little differently.

In this tutorial, we learned about informative writing and ethics, we analyzed an example of an analysis essay, and we analyzed an example of a process essay. Informative writing needs to be fair and ethical. I'm Mackenzie. Thanks for listening.