ASFs

These are documents-only alternative story forms.

The purpose of these pieces is to get you to focus on gathering information from primary and secondary documentary sources and relaying it to your audience in different ways. You almost certainly will have to consult more documents than the three you cited in your source list, but those documents are a good place to start. You are required to list your sources for your alternative story forms.

Choose two alternative story forms and complete them for your topic. If you do not have enough information for two without becoming redundant, you need to gather more information. The goal here is to provide the most interesting information you can, given the options. Simply turning in a list of facts from your documents will earn a failing grade.

You must do original work on these — that means not copying tables or graphics from a previously published piece.

Lead off your typed copy with your approved story angle and a list of the specific communication values your pieces fulfill (e.g., proximity, conflict, etc.). Your alternative story forms may be hosted online. If this is the case, you should still create a document with the required header information. Include links to your ASFs in that document.

Examples of alternative story forms (you must create two different forms):

  • Infographic: charts or graphics illustrating important points or data related to your topic — minimum of 10 data points (e.g. statistics on campus crime would include 10 years, or 10 months, or 10 crime types)

  • Timeline: plot key dates or developments on a timeline, emphasizing growth or change of an issue over time — minimum of 10 entries (e.g., a timeline showing key legislative and legal actions in student privacy rights)

  • Map: plot locations of events related to your issue — minimum of 10 (e.g., map of all incidences of a particular crime in the campus area) — be sure to include information about each of your locations

  • By-the-numbers: visual representation (not simply text) of essential or illuminating statistics — minimum of 10 (e.g., violent and nonviolent crimes in the campus area by time or statistics of crime commission by time of day.

  • Storify: a story told through a mix of descriptive text and social media — minimum of 20 social media elements (e.g. 10 Facebook posts plus 10 tweets, or 15 tweets and 5 Instagram posts, etc.)
  • If you have another idea for an alternative story, please clear it with your TA.

Be creative. The idea is that an alternative story form should bring something to the story that traditional storytelling methods (text, spoken word, etc.) can’t provide. Here is a helpful list of free tools you can use to create your ASFs.


FAQs

Do I have to use any specific program to create my ASF?

You are free to use whatever tools you can find. If you find a good one that’s not on our list,  please let us know so we can add it to the list for future students.

Can I create a survey and collect my own data for the ASF?

No. You will have an opportunity to create a survey and collect data for the final project, but for this assignment, we want you to use existing data.

Is [insert source here] OK to use? 

We field a lot of questions about specific sources, and if you’re in doubt, it’s always best to ask your TA if something is OK. The most important thing to remember is that these are documentary sources (which yes, includes websites, other info on the web, and all other non-human sources). A menu is a document. A pamphlet is a document. An academic study, polls, government data, syllabi, books, directories, etc., all count.

The second thing to remember is that you want to get to the root of where the info came from. For example, the New York Times may have some info about a study that found that swimming is a great exercise for those with bad knees – but the NYT got that info from somewhere. Find that study and cite it — don’t cite the NYT article.

The third thing to keep in mind is the credibility and objectivity of the info. Some of the stuff you’re citing might be strategic content. Newsletters, pamphlets and press releases are all documents, but you know by now that their authors have an agenda. It’s still OK to use these things, just be transparent about where you got the info, verify when possible, and exercise good judgement about how you present it.

Do my ASFs have to use data that is specific to UW-Madison? 

Depending on your topic, national or state-level data might be informative. For example, in a story about exercise and stress, you probably won’t be able to find much on that topic that’s specifically about UW-Madison. But you could easily find data from national or academic studies about exercise, stress, and the relationship between the two. The ASFs can help broaden your story and put it into context. You may not have data about how exercise helps UW students deal with stress, but data about how exercise helps with stress in general is still illuminating.

How do I cite my sources?

If possible, you should cite your sources on your ASF. In a map, that might appear in the description of the entire map. If you’re using Piktochart or Infogram, the sources may be listed at the bottom. It will really depend on which tool you use to create your ASF.

Sometimes, you’ve got a TON of of sources and they will clutter your ASF. Or, maybe you have only a few sources, but there isn’t any space for them on your ASF. If this is the case, include your sources in the document you turn in on Learn so that your TA can know where you got the info (including any photos you use). When you put your ASFs on your IS website eventually, you can put those links on the same page as your ASF so that your audience will know where you got the info.

You do not need to use an specific citation style. List your sources and use hyperlinks when  the info came from anywhere online.