MAG 2021: Rosa Lorés explores metadiscourse in the online genre of the digest in her plenary lecture

Rosa Lorés participated as a keynote speaker at the 3rd Metadiscourse Across Genres (MAG 2021), organized by Universitat Jaume I on May 27-28, 2021. In her talk she problematized the role of metadiscourse as an encompassing approach to the study of digital textual practices, taking into account that metadiscourse seems to be genre-related and context-dependent, whereas digital discourse is characterized by the blurring of boundaries that separate internal communication among researchers from communication with the wider public. By focusing on an instance of digital textual practice, the online scientific digest, research questions such as how metadiscourse is strategically used to recontextualize expert scientific research for a diversified audience and how web affordances used in digests are “metadiscursively advantageous” were explored. The identification of interactive and interactional features which were strategically used by writers to recontextualize the experts’ voice and engage with the audience led to the conclusion that metadiscoursal devices serve the purpose of recontextualizing voice at various levels matching the three systemic metafunctions (ideational, interpersonal, and textual).

Here you can read the abstract of the plenary lecture:

Recontextualizing research for the general public(s): Making the most of metadiscourse

Communication between science and the broad public is under focus, especially now, at a moment of global pandemic. Never before has there been such an eagerness for the general public to simply “know” and such a level of demand being placed on scientists to disseminate their research, to account for what they are doing and to establish a dialogue with the citizenship. Moreover, the digital platforms and their affordances, which guarantee global dissemination of results, are contributing, in a fundamental way, to the scientific, societal and economic impact which is now demanded from research and innovation investment (Flecha et al 2018). However, there are other issues associated to digital discourse in general, and scientific digital discourse in particular, such as, for instance, the fact that the digital world and communication technologies have the potential to blur the boundaries that separate internal communication among researchers from communication with the wider public (Puschmann 2014). Thus, following the Open Research movement, digital platforms afford addressing audiences with different levels of expertise and knowledge, ranging from experts in the discipline to lay people, and also including stakeholders and potential investors interested in the outcomes of the research. However, this blurring of boundaries may problematize the analysis of digital textual practices from a metadiscoursal point of view. Metadiscourse seems to be genre-related and context-dependent, so what happens when context “collapses”? How can metadiscourse contribute to the understanding of an “open scientific digital discourse”, conceived as this framework was for the study of written monological (mostly academic) discourse, which basically meant one mode (verbal), one specific type of language (academic), one direction (author to reader) and one register (expert)? But metadiscourse has shown to be a flexible toolkit, adaptable to the study of various types of discourses not initially thought for. In this presentation, we’ll try to explore ways in which it can be adjusted and redefined as an adequate tool for the exploration of our current scientific digital practices by focusing on an instantiation of such practices, the scientific “digest”. The ways in which (i) metadiscourse is strategically used to recontextualize scientific research for a diversified audience, and (ii) web affordances are used in a “metadiscursively advantageous” way will be identified and discussed.


Flecha, R., Radauer, A., & van den Besselar, P. (2018). Monitoring the Impact of EU Framework Programmes ( /publication/cbb7ce39-d66d-11e8-9424-01aa75ed71a1/language-en/format-PDF/source78275165) [last accessed March, 27, 2021.

Puschmann, C. (2014). (Micro)blogging science? Notes on potentials and constraints of new forms of scholarly communication. In: Friesike, S., and Bartling, S. (Eds.), Opening Science: The Evolving Guide on How the Internet is Changing Research, Collaboration and Scholarly Publishing. Springer, pp. 89–106.