This chapter discusses textography as a strategy for researching academic writing in higher education. Textography is an approach to the analysis of written texts which combines text analysis with ethnographic techniques, such as surveys, interviews and other data sources, in order to examine what texts are like, and why. It aims to provide a more contextualized basis for understanding students’ writing in the social, cultural and institutional settings in which it takes place than might be obtained by looking solely at students’ texts. Through discussion of the outcomes of a textography, which examined the written texts submitted by visual and performing arts doctoral students at a number of Australian universities, we reflect on what we learnt from the study that we could not have known by looking at the texts alone. If we had looked at the texts without the ethnographic data not only are there many things we would not have known, but many of the things we might have said would likely have been right off the mark. Equally, had we just had the ethnographic data without the text analysis, we would have missed the insights provided by the explicit text analysis. The textography enabled us to see the diversity of practices across fields of study and institutions as well as gain an understanding of why this might be the case, all of which is of benefit to student writers and their supervisors.
Starfield, S., Paltridge, B. and Ravelli, L. (2014), "Researching academic writing: What textography affords", Theory and Method in Higher Education Research II (International Perspectives on Higher Education Research, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 103-120. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-3628(2014)0000010011Download as .RIS
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