Last week we had the opportunity to contribute to the LSPPC6 (online) conference, which was the 6th edition of the International Conference of Asia-Pacific LSP & Professional Communication Association. It took place via Zoom from 3rd to 5th June, and was titled “Multimodality and Beyond: Addressing complexity and emerging needs in LSP”.
Very interesting lectures were delivered by well-known invited plenary speakers through the days of the conference. Diane Belcher, Kay O’Halloran, Guangwei Hu, Jürgen Streeck and Li Wei tackled different perspectives (e.g. digital multimodality, translanguaging challenges, diachronic studies) to delve into present challenges and possibilities in the analysis of language for specific purposes. It was a very thought-provoking event in which InterGedi had the opportunity to present a thematic panel about our current research project.
In our panel proposal, “Analysing Scientific Digital Discourse: the Case of Research Project Websites in International Contexts”, we approached the study of European Horizon2020 project websites from various analytical and methodological perspectives. We had the opportunity of counting on Marina Bondi, one of our external collaborators in the project, as the discussant of the InterGedi communications.
By focusing on this single (yet complex) object of study, we wanted to contribute to its conceptualisation and to illustrate one of the predominant digital settings for the communication of research projects. Overall, it was our intention to display and discuss how the analysis of research project websites could be undertaken from different, complementary approaches in order to gain a fuller picture of researchers’ up-to-date, sophisticated discursive (digital) practices.
To do so, first of all, Isabel Corona explored the relationships between texts and images in the homepages of those websites to try to better comprehend how they build an identity as a project. A more specific focus was placed on the news-and-events clusters, as an instance of generic repurposing, and on the types of visuals and multimodal collocations displayed in them. A social semiotic multimodal analysis of the genre of the homepage and these ‘newsbites’ housed in it raised awareness of the meaning-making mechanisms and functions employed by researchers to convey a positive self-representation. Meaningful connections as for the logicosemantic relations triggered by these multimodal texts (e.g. elaborating, extending, enhancing, projecting) were provided, and illustrative examples were shown emphasising both effective and non-effective practices encountered in the analysis.
Then, Daniel Pascual presented a pragmatic analysis of the strategies deployed by research projects in the Partners sections of the research project websites. In this different space within the webs from the corpus, the members that make up the consortium of the project are presented, at both the institutional level (universities, labs, institutes) and at the level of individual researchers and professionals. The analysis singled out a salient collective identity that stands out over the invididual identities of the partners. Two pragmatic strategies were particularly underlined because of their frequency and coverage in this section: disclosing information aboout researchers and highlighting members’ contribution to the project. Moreover, these strategies combined, in addition to a set of optional ones, were used to shape the structure of the texts devoted to the description and justification of the partners of the projects.
Next, Rosa Lorés focused on the framework of evaluation to shed light into the discursive and linguistic choices characteristics of web-hosted texts published by research projects. To do so, a corpus-assisted analysis of the showcasing sections of research project websites (both homepages and About pages) was provided. She enhanced the positive values, socially constructed, endorsed in the dissemination of the research undertaken by the projects, and discussed a range of prominent markers around two main concepts: project and energy. The role of evaluative language in constructing argument was underlined and epitomised to better comprehend the discoursal and generic functions that it fulfils in this digital environment.
Silvia Murillo closed the panel with an analysis of the treatment of terminology in research project websites. Her study approached the definition and denomination processes occurring in different web sections to understand how they contribute to informativity and accountability, as well as to persuasion and promotion. A detailed exploration of discourse markers and other metalinguistic markers helped to draw implications as for the ways research projects cater for knowledge transfer and scientific dissemination. Although she pointed out that there is room for improvement regarding the dimension of terminology in the practices of research projects under scrutiny, the study offered an insightful angle on online writer-reader relationships that enabled to see how denominations, parenthetical reformulations and specifically-creted abbreviations were frequently introduced and strategically positioned in the web-hosted texts.
A very nice discussion of the findings and the ideas presented during the panel was moderated by Marina Bondi. We collected a lot of food for thought that will be really helpful to try to better identify, describe and analyse processes and practices in scientific dissemination, and we look forward to the next steps in our project! Thanks to all attendants in the panel! #LSPPC6 was great venue for InterGedi!
Below we include the panel abstract that we prepared to give an overview of our current research and of the different talks. More information about each of the contributons can be consulted in our Presentations!
Analysing Scientific Digital Discourse: The Case of Research Project Websites in International Contexts
Scientific discursive practices are undergoing a deep process of evolution and change due both to the increasing demands and pressures placed on scientists to gain visibility for their research and to the affordances of digital platforms, which guarantee global dissemination and promotion of results. Subsequently, the study of digital discourse demands drawing upon previous theories and methods developed for ‘analogue’ discourse as well as formulating innovative concepts and methodologies to account for new phenomena. In our view, these phenomena are better approached by means of various, complementary analytical perspectives, as we intend to show in this panel. Here we present some results gathered in our studies of international research websites, one of the most widely spread instantiations of scientific digital discourse. For such purposes, our research group compiled an initial corpus (EUROPRO) consisting of 30 websites of research projects funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme. In our presentations we explore five aspects which, from different angles, contribute to casting light onto our common object of study, revealing the variety of linguistic, pragmatic and multimodal mechanisms by which these digital sites confer visibility to the research undertaken, thus enhancing its dissemination and promotion: (i) pragmatic strategies to make researchers visible, (ii) evaluative markers to identify the values promoted, (iii) technical terminology to single out dissemination procedures, and (iv) intersemiotic relations in the construction of researchers’ identities. It is our ultimate aim to contribute to the vivid debate that is taking place nowadays in applied linguistics and multimodality about ways to explore digital practices and the textual phenomena to which they are giving way.