How Should a Rationale Be Written?

Rationales should provide a road map to audiences that sets forth certain goals that the author wants to achieve, and how he or she plans to meet those goals, keeping in mind his or her unique attributes and skills that allow for an ultimately successful end to the project. In the academic arena, students are often encouraged to write rationale statements with the assumption that the people reading their statements will be professionals unfamiliar with their specific discipline. A student majoring in chemistry, for instance, should propose an activity to achieve an end goal, using skills acquired in his or her field of study, that is easy for a professor in the languages or humanities to comprehend and follow.

In addition to stating what previously-acquired skills students will use for their rationales, rationale statements should establish what additional knowledge or skills students or professionals hope to achieve at the end of the activity in question. Although rationales do not follow a formal structure in writing, individuals preparing statements should keep several questions or guidelines in mind. Considerations might include how knowledge of a specific discipline will be impacted by the activity, how activities will help people use their skill set and training in other disciplines, and what type or level of professional or personal growth authors hope to achieve by writing a rationale.