Professional Writing from Multiple Sources
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Previous writing research has lead to various well-known writing process models. However, these models are primarily based on observations made in educational environments and relate to single texts. Professional writers in the workplace on the other hand often use multiple (digital) sources to succesfully write their business texts. Writing a business text, e.g. a report for a merger, is a very complex activity during which a wide variety of sources are consulted. This project, therefore, addresses the following research question: What characterizes the writing processes of professional writers 'designing' business texts from multiple (digital) sources?
In this research project (2010-2013) we describe the activities of writing professionals when writing in their organisational setting (via keystroke logging and participative observation). In this stage, we have gathered a variety of writing process data, ranging from proposals to tweets.
The writing process data are collected with Inputlog. Inputlog is a keystroke logging program that registers an identification of every activated window environment (e.g. program, document, or web page) which is very important for the source analysis.
During the presentation we describe the main concepts of this research project via case studies: the use of multiple sources, the implications of sources on the fragmentation and fluency of the writing process, and we will end with an example of a linguistic analysis of the data.
To show the complexity of professional writing we have, for instance, transferred the Inputlog data to a network analysis program (Pajek). A network analysis shows the relative time spent reading/writing the different sources and the direction/quantity of the transitions between the sources when producing a text. In one of our cases (a project proposal that took 10 hours to producs), we observed that this writer on average switches 5 times per minute between documents and programs and that he spends about 75% of the time consulting other (re)sources while writing.
The conclusions will be related to the excisting writing models. Especially the decision process a writer needs to make to either retrieve information from the long term memory or consult an external (re)source seems to be an important aspect that influences the organisation of the writing process.
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