IFLS 306 genre analysis feedback

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Here is some general feedback on the genre analysis assignments, mainly on the drafts.


General comments on genre analysis essays
The following are some common errors or areas needing revisions in the essays (don't worry - these are rather typical).
Overall focus If your field is fairly broad, then you should primarily focus on your subfield. It is okay to discuss or compare other subfields, but it's best if this is secondary, and if you focus is clearly on one subfield.
  • If there are distinct research strands in your (sub)field - e.g., if some papers are qualitative while others are quantitative - it may be better to focus primarily on one of these approaches (comparisons of qual & quant would be fine, but you may want to focus mainly on one of these).
Focus & content If you talk about the structure, style, citation systems, or such, then it is not helpful if your essay just says "we do it like so..." without explaining why. Discussion of such points will be more interesting if they are connected to more global issues, like the nature of the field, or the research methods, which explain why writers do such things. Thus, for most of you papers, it will be important to discuss and connect some or all of the following:
  1. Style and structure of written papers in the field, and how they are shaped by other factors ...
  2. Research methods and/or types of data or information used
  3. How arguments / main ideas are presented and developed
  4. Basic theoretical knowledge or concepts that one should know
  5. The nature of the academic field - the paradigm
Connecting and grounding ideas The writing patterns and structures you are describing are not arbitrary inventions. They follow from and are shaped by the needs of scholars / researchers in the field - the type of logical argumentation, how ideas are developed and supported, the types of research methods, and the core theories or concepts of the field. It will be helpful for your (potential) readers if you explain why writers do as they do, based on these kinds of factors. Ultimately, these relate to th nature of the field itself - the paradigm. So it will be helpful to talk not just about text features, but how they relate to the nature of the field and the nature of the research.
Contents Avoid focusing too much on very minor details; focus on what would be newsworthy and important to your readers. Assume that they have some basic familiarity with the field, so avoid overly general, familiar, or common information.
Gratuitous use of extended quotes, or graphics / tables copied from your sources Any direct quotes, tables, charts, or graphics reproduced from a source should not just be inserted into the essay for filler. They should be accompanied by a sufficient explanation of their significance and/or what they illustrate about academic papers in your field, in a way that justifies their inclusion in your paper. Otherwise, it just looks like padding or filler.
  • For direct quotations, in most citation systems, the page number should also be cited; reproducing a table or graphic is like a direct quotation; e.g.: "direct quotation" (Smith, 1999, p. 123) or "data table about Madrid sewer systems" (Jones, 2001, p. 456).
Examples needed Generally, your papers will benefit from citing more examples to illustrate your points.
  • For important and interesting points in your paper, cite examples from the papers in your field, such as those you examined for this assignment. Good examples can help readers understand what you are talking about.
  • Weave discussion of a couple of sample papers into the main points of your whole essay.
  • But it's not helpful to cite examples for mundane or trivial points (e.g., Jone's quote "..." shows us the importance of 12-point Century serif fonts for ANOVA p-values in the top journals on sewer system engineering).
Specific focus Your paper may be too broad. It may be helpful to focus on a subfield rather than a whole field.
Research methods * If your field uses a mixture of qualitative, quantitative, and/or theoretical methods, explain when, why, and where particular methods are chosen, and how the research method shapes the writing.
  • Just describing it as qualitative or quantitative is broad - give your reader by describing some of the particular qual. or quant. methods that you have read about; e.g.:
  • Qualitative: Ethnographic / observational study, conversation analysis, think-aloud protocol, business case study, (social/ethnographic) case study, patient case study, open-ended survey, interview, miscue analysis, text/discourse analysis, discourse completion task, ...
  • Quantitative: Survey (e.g., with Likert scale items), behavioral / reaction time (psychological) experiment, corpus/text analysis, (quasi-experimental) class comparison study, grammaticality judgement task, census data, controlled medical experiment, ...
Argumentation It is not very informative to simply say that logical arguments are needed or used for a writer's points. You need to say more about what kind of logical arguments are used, how they are developed, and how they are supported -- e.g., what kinds of evidence, support, data, or such.
Defining your field It is better to primarily discuss your field of study rather than your KU department. Also, the name of the field is usually not capitalized (e.g., linguistics, psychology, engineering), unless you are talking about a major program or department (e.g., Department of Psychology); so 'linguistics' = the field of study, 'Linguistics' = the name of a major program or a department.
Tone and style Your assignment is a descriptive analysis, so watch out for the following.
  • Avoid excessive first-person ("I) - some is okay for this assignment, but as an analytical paper, the tone should be objective.
  • Avoid prescriptive language like "you should/must ...", which can sound pedantic. Again, this is an objective analysis of how scholars / researchers write papers, not you telling others what to do.
  • Style:
    • Avoid overuse of quotation marks to highlight new or important words - this is textbook style or maybe Korean style, but this does not work in English academic writing.
    • Avoid unnecessary capitalization of key terms (see also the note above about major names). However, in formal writing, 'Internet' is capitalized, because it is conceptualized as a special "place", albeit abstractly (but in informal writing it is often in lower case, as 'internet').