The CERLIS Conference Knowledge Transfer and Knowledge Exchange in Academia

Herrando-Rodrigo, Isabel, and Plo-Alastrué, Ramón: “An ethnographic approach to digital knowledge transfer genres”


Current quality standards in the academia are raising scholars’ awareness not only of the importance of becoming an active contributor in their specific disciplines but also the urge to increase the overall visibility of their research. These days, research institutions tend to favour those projects whose findings are perceived as useful by a large sector of our society.  Scholars feel the need to address this broader, more general readership and explore new ways of codifying and transmitting knowledge to make it understandable and widely available. In this sense, apart from the popularization of contents and the process of recontextualization involved, researchers are also aware of the possibilities brought about by the dynamic nature of digital genres. Dynamic research project webs, for example, with their descriptive, informative and promotional character, have become a crossroads for the coexistence of different genres and may provide an interesting area of analysis.

Since language cannot be `context-less´ (Blommaert, 2006), we will approach from an ethnographic perspective, as case studies, the strategies and processes leading to the creation of two of these research project webs; one from the Social Sciences and the other from hard science disciplines. We will collect ethnographic data, conduct face-to-face interviews and make observations to identify possible relations between different types of texts in an attempt to identify if new genres emerge (Crowston and Williams, 2000; Giltrow and Stein 2009), evolve (Campagna et al. 2012; Herrando-Rodrigo 2014) or are simply reconfigured (Herring, 2012) in this context.

So far, and together with Berkenkotter and Huckin (1995), Miller (1994), Tardy (2003) or Herrando-Rodrigo (2015) our results suggest that writers gain knowledge of the genre network by having access to the practice community and colleagues’ interaction.