NetPra2 – Daniel Pascual analyses research project homepages from a combined multimodal, pragmatic approach

At the NetPra2 conference, held from 22nd to 24th October, Daniel Pascual communicated his latest findings on the pragmatic force deployed in the homepages of the research project websites collected in the EUROPRO digital corpus, compiled by the InterGedi research group.

Through a mixed-methodological approach, he first identified sections and clusters in these homepages to gain insights into their information structure and web design. He also explored the range of multimodal elements (images, icons, videos) and the typology of hyperlinks that contributed to building the homepage and interweaving it with the rest of website sections. Then, he matched these ‘content’ and ‘layout’ blocks with pragmatic meta-functions, in order to highlight researchers’ specific strategies and intentions and how different multimodal elements backed up and increased the pragmatic force being conveyed. The slide above, taken out of his presentation, displays the research questions he proposed for his study.

The study yielded interesting results as for the clusters of sections in homepages and their pragmatic functions, as well as the interplay between multimodal items and the pragmatic intention conveyed by the user. He will extend this preliminary study to include a full chapter in his doctoral dissertation about the frequency and force of pragmatic strategies in multimodal webpages like the ‘homepage’.


Here you can read the full abstract of his communication:

Pragmatic functions in the multimodal ensemble of research project homepages

The use of websites has spread in current academic practices, such as when participating in international research projects. They are employed in this endeavor to explain the topic of an investigation, demonstrate research progress and entice users to discover more content. It is the homepage in these websites that welcomes the readership and frames what may be found there about the project, as an entrance door to information about their research. Homepages are built on a wide range of hypermodal and hypermedial elements (Petroni 2014), alongside verbal components, creating a multimodal ensemble. This study seeks to analyse, first, the verbal and visual texts of 30 homepages hosted in websites maintained by Horizon2020 international research projects and, second, the use of pragmatic strategies in crafting the homepages and the additional pragmatic effects resulting from such an ensemble. Hence, the interplay of multiple modes in digital texts, such as project homepages, will be acknowledged and analysed from a pragmatic approach in order to understand the intents conceived behind them and instantiated in specific strategies. Focusing particularly on the compositional meaning (Kress and van Leeuwen 2006), insights are offered into the saliency and framing of characteristic elements traced in international project homepages (e.g.: project mottos, partners logos, explanatory videos). The functioning of hyperlinks is also dealt with to understand how the homepage helps build the whole website and interweaves the sections, facilitating the users’ navigating mode (Askehave and Nielsen 2005). The paper also explores the overall structure and organization of the project homepage by gathering the texts into clusters, and assigning them pragmatic meta-functions, namely communicative, promotional or interactional. The analysis presented will cast some light into how research groups render accountability of themselves, and disseminate and promote their projects online through verbal and visual resources, simultaneously.

References:

Askehave, I., and Nielsen, A. 2005. Digital genres: A challenge to traditional genre theory. Information Technology and People 18 (2), 120-141.

Kress, G. and van Leeuwen, T. 2006. Reading Images. The Grammar of Visual Design. London: Routledge.

Petroni, S. 2014. Collaborative writing and linking: When technology interacts with genres in meaning construction. In P.E. Allori, J. Bateman and V.K. Bhatia (eds.). Evolution in Genre: Emergence, Variation, Multimodality. Bern: Peter Lang, 289-306.