Linking Discourse Studies to Professional Practice

In August we published Linking Discourse Studies to Professional Practice edited by Lubie Grujicic-Alatriste. In this post she tells us a little bit about how the book came together.

Linking Discourse Studies to Professional PracticeLinking Discourse Studies to Professional Practice is an inspirational volume for analysts, researchers, academics, students and practitioners in various teaching and professional programmes including, but not limited to, applied linguistics, discourse studies, critical discourse and gender studies, political, news discourse and communication studies, sociology of work and professional training. It aims to raise awareness about the importance of considering research findings within the broader life framework by reaching out to the stakeholders in the places of professional practice.

Analysts from Australia, Europe and the USA were invited to consider their original research findings in (for them) a new way: how to begin to disseminate their work in real world settings (or ideally in the settings where they originally collected the data). Chapter 1 provides the theoretical background for the volume and describes the components of the Framework for Application. Each of the remaining 13 chapters generally opens by stating the key findings, presents a brief theoretical overview and description of the original research study, and then showcases the key excerpts from a larger body of discourse data. Most significantly, the authors engage the Framework for Application by presenting a plan for dissemination and the tools for gauging research relevance and, in some cases, by reporting the initiatives already taken towards outreach to the places of practice. The Framework includes outreach tools and feedback tools so that future analysts can both see pertinent elements and also include them in their own dissemination efforts. Finally, I carefully examine challenges that lie ahead so as to fairly present to all the work lying ahead.

The blueprint for application is the central part of this volume and the one that really makes each chapter both unique and uniformed. Though the volume’s plans for application are diverse, as the research settings are themselves diverse, each chapter does share the same kernel idea: that of disseminating the research findings by providing a clear practical path to it. This innovative and unusual aspect of the book is what all reviewers have pointed out as an invaluable and most welcome one.

The chapters include studies done on spoken and written discourse, using Conversation Analysis (CA) in combination with other methods, genre analysis in combination with other methods, and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). Contributions are loosely grouped by setting and include the following: workplace and business settings both in private companies and university business offices; educational settings including second language classroom and college writing programs; private and public settings that showcase individuals with disabilities and family interaction including identities of grown children; and government and media settings with a special focus on Chinese news reporting and translation of international news; in addition media representation of gay marriage issues covering a few decades is presented here through the CDA lens.

The volume does show the value of both conversation analysis and written discourse analysis as research tools, but it does not base its organizational principles solely on methodology. Instead it uses the settings as the first principle and the methods of data collection and analysis as the second organizational principle in order to include as many researchers as possible in this discussion of application. It is my hope that many different researchers and their students will find each of the chapters equally engaging, no matter what the base methodology is being focused on. I wanted to showcase how applied linguists can and should share their research findings without being too constrained by the school of methodology they espouse. As editor of this volume, I encourage readers to consider the global purpose of our work more than local issues in the field. Equally importantly, I encourage and invite discussion on any of the issues presented in the volume, be it by responding to this blog, or by writing additional comments elsewhere.

As an illustration of the volume and its history, I here provide a bit of chronology. For many years, as a doctoral student first and then as a professor and researcher, I felt frustrated with the lack of connection between scholars and practitioners, not just in education, but in many other walks of life where linguists collect data and conduct research. The question of how valuable our research could really be to the real world of language users if the same research is never shared with broader real life or professional audiences kept irking me. Finally, in early 2010, I set out to plan this volume. At the onset of this project in 2010, I could not have imagined the road ahead. We discovered that the process of creating a plan, or an outline for dissemination of research findings, was a bigger challenge than first anticipated. As the project moved along, it became clear that the outlines for dissemination of findings provided in this volume would need to be tested out in order to illustrate the process but also to show the results. We hope to continue this work and present it in a separate volume in the near future.

Communicative Practices at WorkFor more information about the book please see our website. If you found this title interesting you might also like Jo Anne Kleifgen’s book Communicative Practices at Work.

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