Second Language Writing Research: Perspectives on the Process of Knowledge Construction

Second Language Writing Research: Perspectives on the Process of Knowledge Construction

Second Language Writing Research: Perspectives on the Process of Knowledge Construction

Second Language Writing Research: Perspectives on the Process of Knowledge Construction

Synopsis

In this original volume, eighteen researchers from different parts of the world reflect on their own research projects, providing insights into key methodological issues in research on second language writing. By offering a glimpse into the process of constructing and negotiating knowledge in the field--the messy space of situated practices of inquiry--it helps to demystify the research process, which can appear in published studies and in introductory methodology guides to be neater and more orderly than it actually is.

Taking a broad conception of research as inquiry that emphasizes the situated and constructed nature of knowledge in the field, Second Language Writing Research: Perspectives on the Process of Knowledge Construction encourages multiple forms of inquiry, including philosophical, narrative, and historical modes. Empirical inquiry as presented in this book encompasses both quantitative and qualitative approaches as well as those that strategically combine them. A helpful discussion of the "nuts and bolts" of developing sustainable research programs is also provided. The volume as a whole facilitates a situated, issue-driven research practice. Its unique focus on second language writing research makes it an invaluable resource for both novice and experienced researchers in the field.

Excerpt

The field of second language writing has grown exponentially over the last decade and a half. Once a neglected topic, second language writing today is arguably one of the most viable fields of inquiry in both second language studies and composition studies. With the growth of the field, second language writing research has become increasingly sophisticated, requiring researchers to negotiate various disciplinary, theoretical, and methodological perspectives as well as practical issues that arise in the process of research.

To develop methodological expertise, novice researchers have often relied on books that focus on research methods in second language studies or composition studies. In their effort to help novice researchers understand various methods, however, most books divide research methods into clearly delineated categories, inadvertently creating the false impression that research methods are discrete and transportable from one context to another. Those publications often do not account for the ways in which researchers combine various methodological tools in response to research issues or questions situated in their own context of inquiry, nor do they reflect the complexity of decision-making processes that researchers go through in conducting research. Furthermore, few of them discuss issues that are specific to second language writing research.

To explore the complexity of second language writing research and promote a situated understanding of actual research practices in the field, we organized the 2002 Symposium on Second Language Writing around the theme of knowledge construction in the field of second language writing. We sought to capture the complexity of second language writing re-

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