Academic writing: cultural obstacles and interventions
Technical academic writing in Asia: obstacles and interventions Lawrie Hunter Kochi University of Technology Japan http://lawriehunter.com
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Dimensions Island of Shikoku ofMedia Object Compehensibility KUT Lawrie Hunter Kochi University of Technology http://www.core.kochi-tech.ac.jp/hunter/ 3
Background 1971~ 1987 Technical rewriter, Techwrite, Maths instructor Tokyo Guidance counsellor 1990~ Freelance academic rewriter, Maths teacher trainer Japan 1996~ Super translation team 1990~ Assoc. professor, English Japanese construction ministry 1993~ Assoc. professor, English, World Water Forum Kyoto intercultural communication Advertising industry Major universities 1996~ founder, KUT 1998~ Referee, CATaC confs EFL CALL 1999~ Editorial team, JALTCALL confs EFL Critical thinking 2004~ Reviewer, Web Based ESP technical writing Communities, CALL, IJLT, etc. EAP for engineers
Hunter the style dossier approachKUT scenario RATIONALE Since 2002: Japanese government scholarships for foreign students in technical doctoral programmes. ! the foreign students are required to publish 2+ refereed papers and a dissertation in English demand for new technical academic writing courses
Hunter the style dossier approachKUT scenario RATIONALEApplicants are screened for academic English knowledge and skill,BUT 1. There are no extensions in the 3 year programme 2. Research topics are highly granular. 3. Technical RP writing genres are highly granular. further L2 acquisition to the point of near-independence during the study period is NOT a realistic strategy. Need for a pragmatic approach.
Design ScenarioHayles 2012 cites Hamilton 1991:Percent of science papers never citedwithin 5 years: ____%Percent of humanities papers never citedwithin 5 years: ____%
Design ScenarioHayles 2012 cites Hamilton 1991:Percent of science papers never citedwithin 5 years: 22.4%Percent of humanities papers never citedwithin 5 years: 93.1%
The TAW* DESIGN CONSTRAINTS CURRICULUM internal external duration focus trialled 2 journal LEARNER 3-year, publications PROFILE no extension yielding 50% yielding 50% required 1 year NON- autonomous autonomous45 hours grammar writers writers demands necessitates necessitates EDITOR / ENGLI S H S KI LLS EAP MENTOR constrained to conﬁned to process P UB LI S HAB I LI TY TAW* S KI LLS argument construction / information analysis structures conciseness information rhetorical organizations structures readability and devices *Technical Academic Writing, L. Hunter. Minami no kaze Press 2012 *Technical Academic Writing
Technical academic writing in Asia:obstacles and interventionsHow does academic writing differ in EAPvarious cultures? 1 cultural variationHow do we set global standards? 2 global standardsIs there a problem of English as thelingua franca of academia? 3 ELF: problems?
Technical academic writing in Asia: cultural variationobstacles and interventionsHow does academic writing differ in various cultures?For engineers, not so much.TAW* is 1. formulaic 2. data-centered 3. graphically scaffolded (equations, graphs, charts)*TAW = technical academic writing
cultural variationAsian culture: perceptions1. Some Asian cultures (esp. former Britishcolonies) tend towards more use of rhetoricaldevices.2. Rhetorical devices seen as a mark of erudition
cultural variationAsian culture: perceptionsConfucian cultures1. Citation: a. more frequently b. more valued [good quoting is a sign of erudition]2. Acceptance of authority -tendency to overclaim others findings in summary/abstraction exercises3. Admiration of extended sentences -difficulty with orchestration of own logical structures
cultural variationLEARNER CULTURE: production techniques1. Tendency to over-emphasize generation of text from own grammar knowledge tendency to undervalue working from language models.2. Tendency to link everything.
cultural variation201X Culture-a recent development 1
cultural variation201X CULTURE: life in a low-text worldTwitter! SMS! Blogs! Like! Unfriend!Intensifying problems:1. Excessive terseness2. "Optimism" about communication (whatever)3. Step skipping in persuasion4. Life is troublesome = cant be bothered
Possible approaches2. layer view most TAW grammar/surface features programs work here usage/convention most TAW writers start document format writing here (simulacrum argument of argument) supporting claim RP language research generation design/results should start here 18
TAW best practice Niche language Writing work acquisition to focusing on near-independence argument and in TAW info-structures Training in the use of Preparation language models: for work with Style Dossier an editor Preparation for work with a mentor 19
cultural variation Interventions1. editor as instructor2. information designer as instructor3. logician as instructor4. learner as client 22
cultural variationIntervention 1: editor as instructor 23
cultural variation1. Editor as instructora. Tasks: analysis, repair => demonstrateb. Rewrite tasks to perfectionc. Use checklists of own LF* problemsd. Style dossier* language features, lexical items crucial to a givencommunication move in TAW
Dossier collection tasks cultural variationA. Research writing register (FAE) modelsB. Informal discussion register modelsC. Glossary
Reframing: cultural client:advisor => user:consultant variation Language knowledge Language skills Task modes Write-edit-rewrite (uncoded to coded) Language structures vs. Using text structures information structures Summarizing Information structureTechnical Data commentary mappingWriting II Text structures: G-S, P-P-S, .... Using lexical units to show info structures Swales & Feak exercises Registers Editing through a checklist Dossier collection work Language features in RP Ambiguity sections Optimizing readability Write-edit-rewrite Readability (stress position, topic -subject-verb proximity (uncoded to coded) position) -single function for 1 unit of discourseResearch Readability work -emphasis at syntactic closure Writing Rhetorical moves: points framing, relationships, cohesion Swales & Feak exercises Avoiding ambiguity RP structure Creating, maintaining cohesion Dossier manipulation RP lexical units Use, application of register knowledge
Reframing: cultural client:advisor => user:consultant variation Language knowledge Language skills Task modes Write-edit-rewrite (uncoded to coded) Language structures vs. Using text structures information structures Claim: when we add dossier Summarizing work, no additional knowledge Information structureTechnical Data commentary Text structures: G-S, P-P-S, .... or skillsmapping are requiredWriting II Using lexical units to show info structures Swales & Feak exercises Registers Editing through a checklist Dossier collection work Language features in RP Ambiguity sections Optimizing readability Write-edit-rewrite Readability (stress position, topic -subject-verb proximity (uncoded to coded) position) -single function for 1 unit of discourseResearch Readability work -emphasis at syntactic closure Writing Rhetorical moves: points framing, relationships, cohesion Swales & Feak exercises Avoiding ambiguity RP structure Creating, maintaining cohesion Dossier manipulation RP lexical units Use, application of register knowledge
cultural variationFrom the editor/mentor POV:1. Reviewer comments on language aspects of RPsare almost always vague. a. mostly blanket comments b. few examples of problem types.2. Reviewer feedback does not includeconfirmationof success vis a vis language features.
cultural variationFrom the editor/mentor POV:1. "Style dossier" vetting of RPs as language modelsreveals a number of papers with significant problemswith grammar, register and readability.2. Journals compete heavily for significant content,and may overlook English problems when the contentis significant and well data-ed – or when the author iswell-known.3. As well, multi-author papers are often patchwork.
culturalEditor POV intervention variationMen must be taught as if you taught them not, And things unknown proposd as things forgot.Pope, "Essay on Criticism" Pt. III. L. 15.
cultural variationIntervention 2: information designer as instructor 31
cultural variation2. Information designer as instructora. teach pattern recognition / metalanguage (naive, e.g. "looking at" marked parallel text)b. coded feedback on tasksc. non-linguistic approach to structure related LFsd. Novakian concept mapping (relations highlighted)e. Style dossier as essential, central
INFAE FAE cultural variationArtemether is one of the most effective as instructor is one of the most effective 2.in the artemisinin group most Information designer Artemetherdrugs drugs in the artemisinin group mostcommonly used in malaria cocktail s, known commonly used in malaria cocktails knownas ACTs. a. teach pattern recognition / as ACTs. metalanguage (naive, e.g. "looking at"“In most cases, if resistance is observed in marked parallel tube usually leads to “Resistance in a test text)laboratory studies, resistance in patients resistance at some stage down the line inwill eventually be observed ,” study leader patients,” study leader Sanjeev KrishnaSanjeev Krishna told AFP of the findings told AFP of the findings published inpublished in BioMed Central publishers’ BioMed Central publishers’ MalariaMalaria Journal. Journal.“The question is how soon resistance willoccur.” “The question is how far down the line.”The study did not examine the patients’ The study did not look at the patients’response to drugs, and the implications actual response to drugs, and “what thatregarding treatment failure have not yet might mean in terms of treatment failure,been investigated. That is an urgent topic we have yet to assess. We don’t know.”for further study. A statement said the resistance was causedThe data suggest that the resistance was by genetic mutations in a parasite
cultural variation2. Information designer as instructor CODED FEEDBACK mentor feedback marks:b. coded feedback on tasks agr awk mistake with subject-verb agreement A phrase or sentence is awkward (awkward = not smooth) cas This language is casual, not formal. comb Combine sentences. conj This is a conjunction (don’t start a sentence with it). gr grammar mistake non-std this phrasing is not standard par mistake with parallel structure redundant (some information has been repeated, red e.g. The temperature was also recorded as well. pronoun reference problem (what is the reference? is it correct ref form?) rep repetitive rephr Rephrase this. run-on This is a run-on sentence; its too long to be readable. sp spelling mistake S-V The subject and verb in a sentence do not agr ee in some way. You have used the wrong verb tense (past/present/future) tense e.g. Yesterday I am going to Tokushima. vag This phrasing is vague or ambiguous. Change from the passive voice to active voice, or vice versa. voice e.g. The ball was hit by the batter. (voice means change to “The batter hit the ball.”) windy This writing is run-on, it could and should be much shorter. word Find a better word for your meaning. Add something here (often an article). verb Add a verb here.
cultural variationLEARNER CULTURE: production techniquesRhetorical conflation 1. Logical narrative ... in order to prove... ... compared.... 2. Reseach Paper narrative (formulaic, surface marked) 3. Claim narrative (argument)[The above 3 forms are not differentiated in the learners experience.]
cultural variationEditor POV-antidote to rhetorical conflationTeach discourse analysis as information analysis.-learning to produce a language is largely a matter ofactively hearing it*. This calls for appealing, attractive,"cool" input. Be shameless!*and not analyzing it
cultural variation Core content Background PersuasionRhetoricalstructureInformationorganizationInformationstructures lawrie hunter
cultural variationCore content Background Persuasion lawrie hunter
cultural variationRhetoricalstructureInformationorganizationInformationstructures lawrie hunter
cultural variation Background Central message information Argument layer Target content discardKnowledge structure layer avoid discard 40
cultural variationStructure Node content Link type Argument Rhetorical relations Independent clauses structure (e.g. argument)Knowledge Nouns Attribute, compare, classify, structure Noun phrases sequence, cause-effect 41
cultural variationIntervention 3: logician as instructor 42
cultural variation3. logician as instructora. macro view: -argument -rhetorical devices -logic linksb. micro view: -language features impacting on TAW moves -conventions
cultural variationLearner culture: "whatever"Tendency when reading to ignore markers of info-organization, info-structures, rhetorical devices -results in misuse of markers when writing
From the editor/mentor POV:Learners tend to miss steps in argument chains.E.g. "Ms. Walters neighbor heard her smokealarm sounding. He knocked on the door, butthere was no answer. He called the police and thefire department. The police arrived first, and theyknocked the door down."Why did the police knock the door down? -common: incomplete chains of argument
cultural variationFrom the editor/mentor POV:Teach pattern recognition: e.g. find all the logic links in this abstract e.g. find all the sentences without logic links
cultural variationFrom the editor/mentor POV:In informal learner writing about own research:general-to-specific takes the form:This reflects: a. the template nature of the TAW RP b. that the RP format is a metaphor for argument
cultural variationFrom the editor/mentor POV:Impact: this results in conference presentation structure: -which is argument-wise a failure in a paper: But what would be better? Toulmin => modified Toulmin => Cmap discourse
cultural variationIntervention 4: learner as client 49
cultural variation4. learner as clienta. Writing center: DO edit student writing -but with coded feedback -clients must know curriculumb. WC emphasis on learning -only edit small chunks, to perfection -learning in chunk x applied to chunk x+1
cultural variation201X Culture-a recent development
cultural variation201X CULTURE: life in a low-text worldTwitter! SMS! Blogs! Like! Unfriend!Intensifying problems:1. Excessive terseness2. "Optimism" about communication (whatever)3. Step skipping in persuasion4. Life is troublesome = cant be bothered
cultural variationLEARNER CULTURE: self-perceptionView of self as static vis a vis languageView of self as externally manipulated
Editor POV: self-perception Class orientation handoutSSP students have three years to publish two academic research papers and write a PhD dissertation. (Please note that a paper and a dissertation require different kinds of writing.)There are several strategies for EAP students to produce acceptable research papers:1. Become a very good writer of academic English and write your own very good papers without help.2. Become a pretty good writer of academic English, and get a native speaker to check your grammar.3. Become a better, but still weak writer of academic English, and get a native speaker to do a complete rewrite for you.4. Do not learn to write academic English well, and find a native speaker to ghost-write your paper for you.5. Steal parts of other researchers papers and combine them to make your own paper.Which strategies will work for you?
Editor POV: self-perception Self-assess strategy tool Entry Setting Final user success Independent writer Strong enough grammar knowledge Model-using independent and composition skill writer time constraints Some Model-using aided writer grammar knowledge latent development and composition skill Heavily aided writer minor/no Insufficient development Ongoing mentored writer grammar knowledge and composition skill Ghost-written writer
Editor POV: self-perception Entry Settin g Final user success1. In this kind of work, first the user must know Strong enough Independent writer grammar knowledge and -the tools and objects involved composition skill Model-using independent -how to talk about them. time constraints writer Some grammar knowledge and Model-using aided writer latent development composition skill Heavily aided writer2. Second, time and again Insufficient minor/no developme n tthe user must articulate anew his/her course grammar knowledge and Ongoing mentored writer composition skillthrough the strategy network Ghost-written writerfrom entry to final user success.3. This ongoing rearticulation consists of -self observation of success and time constraints -calculation of learning objective achievement probability*.4. Native rewriter resource availability/affordability are also key factors in deciding strategy. *Not everyone will learn to write from scratch well and even those who could learn to do so may not have sufficient short-term (or even long-term) time.
cultural variationEditor POV: self assessment Degree of mastery 1. awareness of a language feature (LF) 2. articulate awareness of a LF (can define, give example, identify) 3. evaluative awareness (can identify LF problems; can assess LF correctness) 4. editorial (can repair/refine LF instances) (can apply to problem solving where LF not present)[Forms 1~4 are not differentiated in learners experience.]
cultural variationLearner culture: self-managementI cant!Tendency to accept that independent successfulwriting performance is personally impossible.Deadline: tomorrow!Tendency to underestimate writing process time.Hope for the best!Tendency to finally just send the paper.
How do we set global standards? EAPIn TAW the standards are already there,but they are not linguistic standards. 1 cultural variation 2 global standardsTAW standards hinge on quality offindings and accessibility of argument. 3 ELF: problems?
Is there a problem of English as the EAPlingua franca of academia? 1 cultural variation 2 global standards 3 ELF: problems?
ELF: culturalELF: a problem that will go away? problems? variation• McKnight history of RP• Robot scientist: future of RP / argument• Kowalski: computational linguistics as future of argument BY HUMANS• Hayles technogenesis and the evolution from content orientation to problem orientation.
Daunting: robot scientist:ontology-based readabilityWork on ontology-based research writing * :reforming how scientific research is written/read.“Use of Natural Language is a great hindrancewhen using computers to store and analyse datahence the growing importance of text-mining.We argue that the content of scientific papersshould increasingly be expressed in formal languages.Is writing a scientific paper closer towriting poetry or a computer program?” EXPO: An Ontology of Scientific Research. Ross D. King & Larisa N. Soldatova http://www-tsujii.is.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp/jw-tmnlpo/RossKing.pdf 63
Daunting:ontology-based readability EXPO: An Ontology of Scientific Research. Ross D. King & Larisa N. Soldatova http://www-tsujii.is.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp/jw-tmnlpo/RossKing.pdf 64
Daunting:ontology-based readabilityEXPO* and the Robot Scientist EXPO: An Ontology of Scientific Research. Ross D. King & Larisa N. Soldatova http://www-tsujii.is.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp/jw-tmnlpo/RossKing.pdf 65
Daunting:ontology-based readabilityEXPO* and the Robot ScientistWork on ontology-based research writing * :reforming how scientific research is written/read.Can humans now experience knowledge differently,thanks to machine interface work,i.e. through a formal language imposed for the machine’s sake?Will this reform how we read? how we think?What about LOT, the language of thought? EXPO: An Ontology of Scientific Research. Ross D. King & Larisa N. Soldatova http://www-tsujii.is.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp/jw-tmnlpo/RossKing.pdf 66
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