Research Methods in Linguistics

Article excerpt

Research Methods in Linguistics. By LIA LITOSSELITI. LONDON: CONTINUUM, 2010. PP. 240. HARDBACK $120.00.

Research Methods in Linguistics is an accessible introduction to the discipline and is a suitable guide for beginning-level graduate and undergraduate students. The text is composed of ten chapters authored by leaders in the discipline in the United Kingdom and, although many of the names may be new to beginning level students in the United States, contributors such as Paul Baker, Angela Creese, and Judith Baxter quickly establish themselves as authoritative voices in the fields of corpus linguistics, multilingualism, and discourse analysis, respectively.

Research Methods in Linguistics opens with a concise introduction by Lia Litosseliti in which she contextualizes the book within a framework set forth by comprehensive texts that seek to both inform the novice researcher of the relationship between various research paradigms while allowing more informed readers to reflect on current debates on the use of various methodologies in linguistic research and the possibilities for interaction among these methods. The remainder of the book is organized into three parts: Part I, Issues, guides readers through the process of forming and operationalizing research questions and ends with a discussion on the benefits and challenges to different types of research: quantitative, qualitative, and a mixed-methods approach. Part II, Quantitative and Corpus Research Methods inducts the reader into the world of quantitative linguistics and tackles issues such as the building and applications of corpora and data analysis. Part III, Qualitative Research Methods, is intentionally the largest section of the book according to Litosseliti in order to reflect the prevalence of such methods currently in the field. This section is composed of five chapters that initiate the reader into the fields of discourse analysis, linguistic ethnography, multimodal and narrative analysis. Each chapter of the book opens with a chapter outline that essentially summarizes the key topics of discussion. Chapters are divided into subsections that are aptly titled to direct the reader through what is at times an abundance of information, thus contributing to the accessibility of the text for beginning students. The intent of the book is not to provide a thorough discussion but rather to give a broad overview of the methods presented, therefore each chapter concludes with a short list of suggested readings which provide detailed coverage of the topic. Each of the self-contained chapters concludes with an independent list of references in addition to the suggested readings.

In Chapter One, Research Questions in Linguistics, Jane Sunderland provides descriptive instruction on the formation of research questions, providing illustrative examples from her own field of expertise of sociolinguistics and gender. Sunderland guides the reader between the distinction between various types of research questions, for example primary vs. secondary, methodological vs. theoretical, and empirical vs. speculative questions. In addition, Sunderland provides practical guidance for budding researchers, for example, advising them to document and justify all methodological decisions related to the research design.

In the second chapter, Quantitative, Qualitative, or Both? Combining Methods in Linguistic Research, Jo Angouri adopts a pragmatist's stance, which propones methodologies that represent a collection of techniques, in her discussion of issues relevant to conducting research within a specific paradigm. Angouri discusses at length the nomenclature of methodological triangulation and differentiates between its meaning as a technical term and as a concept of mixed methods designs as a whole, and draws upon her expertise in the field of business discourse to exemplify both the benefits and challenges of mixed-methods research.

The third chapter, Quantitative Methods: Concepts, Frameworks, and Issues, introduces readers to the general characteristics of quantitative research and provides a thorough distinction between quantitative and qualitative methods. …