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Digital texts

Social Media and Digital Text

The transformative power of computers and the internet has created huge amounts of digital text and interaction: email, academic essays, e-books, tweets, blogs, discussion forum posts, Second Life chat, web-based version of print media and so on. Advances in computing power and storage have also opened up opportunities for research into language and communication at scale, and increasingly, qualitative investigation is enhanced by quantitative exploration of large collections of digital text or ‘corpora’.  

LDC staff research interests in social media and digital text cover a number of areas: 

Our research in Critical Discourse Analysis employs quantitative analysis of corpora for supplementing the qualitative critical examination of values and ideologies in language use. Such language use is often implicit and can thus be tricky to isolate. One aim of this research is methodological: via use of corpora, to help reduce over-interpretation and under-interpretation in judgements of ideological language use and thus enhance the rigour of qualitative approaches in Critical Discourse Analysis. Another aim of this research is practical: to develop, via exploitation of social media corpora, new digital-based methods for facilitating critical analysis of text.

Our research in computer-mediated communication (CMC)/computer-mediated discourse analysis (CMDA) focuses on the textual and interactional aspects of different genres of new and social media, through employing qualitative and linguistic ethnographic methods.   Our strength in language-and-identities research is extended to CMC by studying: the relationships of new/social media with youth and gender identities; the role of new media engagements in everyday life for the construction of self and other; the interweavings of online and offline experience, communities and identities. Our expertise in narrative analysis ensures a focal concern with the new forms and ways of storytelling on CMC, particularly within the framework of small stories research. 

Our research in corpus applications in language education focuses on both the description of languages in action and on the development of pedagogic responses which enable learners to benefit from the findings from corpus research, or to engage in corpus investigation in the furtherance of their language learning ends.  We are currently engaged in research which exploits a newly developed corpus of apprentice academic texts.  This work is making a major contribution to understanding and practice in academic writing instruction. 

Staff contributors

Alexandra Georgakopoulou, Kieran O’Halloran, Chris Tribble; Ursula Wingate.

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