A free, comprehensive, peer-reviewed, award-winning Open Text for students and faculty in college-level courses that require writing and research.

Joe Moxley, Founder, WritingCommons.org

Joe Moxley

Founder
WritingCommons.org

Dear Colleagues and Students,

At Writing Commons, we are happy with the overall success of our project. Since 2011, when we launched at WritingCommons.org, we have hosted 6,315,882 users who have reviewed over 11 million pages. We are thrilled that students and faculty find our site to be helpful. Our ongoing mission is to be the best writing textbook possible. We also happen to be free. While we cannot perhaps claim yet that we are the best possible textbook for technical writing or creative writing courses, we are working on that.

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Practice critical reading strategies as you critique potential resources: evaluate sources' accuracy, authority, context, timeliness, relevance, coverage, and genre.

Clearly, the Internet has revolutionized writing and reading, providing billions of documents at just a click away. As a result, the ability to assess the validity of documents is more important now than ever before.

Things aren't always what they may seem to be. For instance, recently, a number of Americans were surprised to discover that a popular online film critic didn't really exist. The "critic's" name was a fiction (his/her name was adapted from an advertising slogan like Betty Crocker) and the "critic's" reviews were always a fiction--a fantasy conjured up by the marketing executives for a major Hollywood production company. The "critic" was a "virtual human being"--the product of a marketing division of a movie production company. The "critic" was designed to sell a product, a "widget." Ironically, some people may have seen particular films based on the "critic's" "review." In this case, and in many others like it, neglecting to read and analyze critically can lead to some pretty surprising consequences. In this scenario, the consequences weren't too serious; although a number of Americans were surprised, as far as we know, no one was injured, or cheated out of money, insurance coverage, a job, a home, etc. However, this isn't always the case, which you can read more about below.

We all know we need to be on guard when signing life-defining documents. Wills, real estate contracts, application forms--these documents come with warning signs: one of which is the requirement that the documents be notarized and initialed on each page. Other documents, like the editorial page of a major newspaper or the column of an international newsmagazine, possess the imprimateur of a major publisher. Accordingly, in a rush to get through the document, we may skip through sentences rather than consider each word. We may concentrate on understanding the writer's message, adding the information in the essay to our knowledge of the subject, rather than critically examining the document, wondering about why it's shaped as it is, whether the author's biases are coloring the story. When we're immersed within a mire of information, we may skim too quickly, neglecting to critically read and analyze the resources. As a means of preventing this habit, you may want to consider practicing the one/more of the critical reading strategies below:

  • Double-Entry Response Format: Use a double-entry format to respond to readings, extending your thinking about how the original source relates to your research.
Cassandra Branham, Editor-in-Chief WritingCommons.org

Cassandra Branham

Editor-in-Chief
WritingCommons.org

Dear Colleagues and Students,

Welcome to Writing Commons, an open-education resource for instructors and students of writing across the disciplines. Our mission is to provide a high-quality, cost free resource to support students in the development of writing, research, and critical thinking practices.

This summer, we have been working on a site redesign in an effort to increase the usability of our site for both instructors and students. Our most significant change has been the inclusion of additional categories and subcategories to create a more intuitive hierarchy within the site.

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