Discovering conventions in the occluded academic genre of conference discussion session in support of computer science novice academics
by Dr Xiaoyu Xu, City University of Hong Kong
In the past three decades, applied linguists in the field of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) have provided indispensable support in preparing novice academics from a vast range of disciplines in their scholarly writing. However, little attention has been given to scholarly spoken genres, particularly conference discussion session, despite its challenging nature and vital role in academic communication. How to respond to and persuade the audience are unaddressed questions that often leave novice academics disconcerted. This paper presents the preliminary findings of an investigation that aims to address this question for the computer science community. Ten computer science conference discussion sessions have been collected and transcribed so far with half of them initiated by novice academics and half initiated by experienced academics. To validate the comparison between novice academics and experienced academics, measures have been taken to control variables such as conference type, year of the conference, first language of the speaker and length of the session. The data analysis draws on Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) – the presenters’ responses were analysed in terms of their interpersonal function (i.e., how do the presenters position themselves) using Appraisal Theory. This pilot study found that experienced academics positioned themselves less as a defender of their research products but more as an ‘honest’ researcher in comparison to novice academics. The findings will be tested on a larger dataset in the next phase of this investigation.
Xiaoyu Xu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at City University of Hong Kong. She holds a PhD in Applied Linguistics, a MA TESOL, a Bachelor’s major degree in Sociology and a Bachelor’s minor in Accounting and Finance. She has previously taught at Coventry University in the UK. Her interests include English for Academic Purposes, Corpus Linguistics, Systemic Functional Linguistics, Discourse Analysis and Intercultural Communication. She has a particular interest in using Corpus methods and Discourse Analysis to explore argumentation in all kinds of discourse. Her previous research focuses particularly on stance and evaluation in academic discourse from a cultural perspective, using Appraisal Theory and UAM CorpusTool. She intends to continue her research on academic discourse and also extend it to popularised science and media discourse, and explore computational linguistic methods.
Click here for the directions to the Department of English at CityU