Thursday, December 13, 2012

Voice in academic writing

Voice in academic writing: The rhetorical construction of author identity in blind manuscript review.

Paul Kei Matsuda, Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus
Christine M. Tardy, DePaul University


Some researchers have argued that voice is irrelevant to academic writing and that the importance of voice has been overstated in the professional literature [Helms-Park, R., & Stapleton, P. (2003). Questioning the importance of individualized voice in undergraduate L2 argumentative writing: an empirical study with pedagogical implications. Journal of Second Language Writing, 12(3), 245-265; Stapleton, P. (2002). Critiquing voice as a viable pedagogical tool in L2 writing: returning the spotlight to ideas. Journal of Second Language Writing, 11(3), 177-190]. To investigate whether and how a socially oriented notion of voice--defined as "the amalgamative effect of the use of discursvie and non-discursive features that language users choose, deliberately or otherwise, from socially available yet ever-changing repertoires" [Matsuda, P. K. (2001). Voice in Japanese written discourse: Implications for second language writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 10(1-2), 35-53]--plays a role in academic writing, this study examined the construction of an author's discursive identity by peer reviewers in a simulated blind manuscript review process for an academic journal in the field of rhetoric and composition. The analysis of the written reviews as well as interviews with the two reviewers and the manuscript author indicated that the reviewers' constructions of the author's voice are related to their stance toward the author. The findings suggest that voice does play a role in academic writing and that there is a need for further research into the issue of identity construction from the perspectives of both writers and readers.

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