The Discourse Community Project connects to the UWP1 learning outcome of using research to evaluate, analyze, and synthesize prior knowledge on a subject and create new knowledge through primary research. The purpose of this project is to conduct primary and secondary research about a discourse community that you are a member of, that you want to join, or that you want to learn more about. You’ll present the results of this research in the form of a scholarly research article. In class we’ll talk more about the definition of a discourse community, but in summary, a discourse community is a group of people who share the same goals, interests, genres, and ways of communicating. For example, a group of people that share a common hobby and who communicates through a social media tool like Facebook or Reddit, scholars or students in an academic field like biology or sociology, a group of workers who all work in the same office or for the same company, etc.
For this project you can be a participant observer and participate in the discourse community while you study it, or you can just observe without participating. You’ll conduct primary research by surveying discourse community members, observing discourse community members interact, or rhetorically analyzing the genres of the discourse community to talk about their purposes, audiences, conventions, etc. You’ll also integrate secondary research–research others have conducted. You’ll include the Discourse Community Project in your final electronic portfolio.
Scholarly research articles are a common genre in academic writing in every field, whether it’s a sociologist reporting about a survey she’s conducted or a psychologist describing a patient in a case study or a business report that uses economic data or a scientist describing the significance of the results of an experiment. We’ll read examples of student and professional scholarly research discourse community analysis articles, and additional examples are available on the class Canvas site. The tone and style of a scholarly article tends to be formal and serious, with the use of academic language and jargon appropriate for the subject and discipline. Readers expect scholarly articles to engage in conversation with the research that’s been done on the topic, and this means citing and integrating peer reviewed academic sources from scholarly journals and books. Citing only a few related research studies is never enough to show that you’ve deeply engaged with your topic as a scholar. Although most research articles cite dozens of sources, since this is a small research project, you should cite at least 4-6 sources. You are welcome to cite any of the scholarly articles we’ve read for class.
Readers expect scholarly research to make an argument and add to our understanding of a subject. In your Discourse Community Project, you should answer one of the following research questions:
1. What role does reading and writing play in becoming a member of the discourse community? 2. What do you need to know about reading and writing to succeed as a member of the discourse community?
3. What are the important genres of the discourse community and how do they help writers accomplish goals?
4. How does the discourse community welcome new members and help them gain expertise with reading and writing, or in what ways does the discourse community exclude the voices of particular groups?
Audience and Circulation
The primary audience for your Discourse Community Project is the academic discourse community of UWP1 students and teachers. You’ll have at least one reader from an academic background (myself) since this research project will be included in the final portfolio. You’ll also have the option of circulating your Discourse Community Project to a wider academic audience.
Research articles have different formats depending on the discipline (for example, research articles in the sciences often use a more “objective” tone, less direct quotes, and more visuals like charts and graphs than research articles in the humanities). But academic research articles in every field use some basic formatting conventions: there’s often an abstract at the beginning (but usually written last) that summarizes the article; there’s usually an introduction and discussion of related research, a discussion of research methods, a presentation of the results, and discussion of the significance of the research. Different sections of a scholarly research article are usually divided by headings. The length of a scholarly research article will depend on the size of the study and the assignment guidelines (if it’s written for a college class) or the journal submission guidelines (if it’s written for publication in a scholarly journal). You’ll be conducting a small research study, so your research article should be between 1,500 and 1,800 words.
Document formatting requirements:
Your project should:
● Be “.doc, ” “.docx,” or “.rtf” file; use Microsoft Word or Word compatible software
● Use 1-inch margins (top, bottom, left, right)
● Have numbered pages
● Be single-spaced and skip a line between paragraphs
● Include appropriate visual cues (headings, formatting, etc.)
● Use APA citation style (but it is not necessary to use APA paper formatting)
The first step towards undertaking your discourse community analysis will be to write a project proposal. This proposal should be between 600-800 words and should outline your plans for the Discourse Community Project assignment and provide an overview of your related research. Your proposal should answer the following questions:
● What is your topic and why did you choose it?
● What are your research questions?
● What do you already believe or know about your research questions?
● If possible for your project, what kind of primary research you plan to do (who you plan to interview or who might you survey)?
● What kinds of secondary research might you need and what topics might you research? What key words might you use in search engines to find relevant research?
You’ll include a cover memo with your peer response workshop draft and the revised draft we discuss in our one-on-one conference.
The cover memo for the peer response workshop draft should be one paragraph describing what you think the strengths and weaknesses of the draft are and one paragraph with any questions or concerns you have for your peer responders.
The cover memo for the one-on-one conference should be one paragraph describing what you think the strengths and weaknesses of the draft are, one paragraph with any questions or concerns you have for me, and one paragraph summarizing the feedback you got from your peer responders and what revisions you made based on your peers’ response.