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Differences over discourse structure differences: a reply to Urquhart and Urquhart

Jennie A. Abrahamson (Faculty of Information and Media Studies, Language & Information Technology Research Lab (LIT.RL), University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada)
Victoria L. Rubin (Faculty of Information and Media Studies, Language & Information Technology Research Lab (LIT.RL), University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 9 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to respond to Urquhart and Urquhart’s critique of the previous work entitled “Discourse structure differences in lay and professional health communication”, published in this journal in 2012 (Vol. 68 No. 6, pp. 826-851, doi: 10.1108/00220411211277064).

Design/methodology/approach

The authors examine Urquhart and Urquhart’s critique and provide responses to their concerns and cautionary remarks against cross-disciplinary contributions. The authors reiterate the central claim.

Findings

The authors argue that Mann and Thompson’s (1987, 1988) Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST) offers valuable insights into computer-mediated health communication and deserves further discussion of its methodological strength and weaknesses for application in library and information science.

Research limitations/implications

While the authors agree that some methodological limitations pointed out by Urquhart and Urquhart are valid, the authors take this opportunity to correct certain misunderstandings and misstatements.

Originality/value

The authors argue for continued use of innovative techniques borrowed from neighbouring disciplines, in spite of objections from the researchers accustomed to a familiar strand of literature. The authors encourage researchers to consider RST and other computational linguistics-based discourse analysis annotation frameworks that could provide the basis for integrated research, and eventual applications in information behaviour and information retrieval.

Keywords

Citation

Abrahamson, J.A. and Rubin, V.L. (2015), "Differences over discourse structure differences: a reply to Urquhart and Urquhart", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 71 No. 2, pp. 224-232. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-02-2014-0037

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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