The Science of Writing: Theories, Methods, Individual Differences, and Applications

The Science of Writing: Theories, Methods, Individual Differences, and Applications

The Science of Writing: Theories, Methods, Individual Differences, and Applications

The Science of Writing: Theories, Methods, Individual Differences, and Applications


Conceived as the successor to Gregg and Steinberg's Cognitive Processes in Writing, this book takes a multidisciplinary approach to writing research. The authors describe their current thinking and data in such a way that readers in psychology, English, education, and linguistics will find it readable and stimulating. It should serve as a resource book of theory, tools and techniques, and applications that should stimulate and guide the field for the next decade.

The chapters showcase approaches taken by active researchers in eight countries. Some of these researchers have published widely in their native language but little of their work has appeared in English-language publications.


In 1978 Lee Gregg and Erwin Steinberg organized an interdisciplinary conference at Carnegie Mellon University to assess what research had already shown and to describe what research was then ongoing. One legacy of that meeting was the collection of papers that Gregg and Steinberg assembled into a book titled Cognitive Processes in Writing. Its publication in 1980 was a watershed event. It served as an extremely influential source of ideas that guided a great deal of the research in the field of writing for the next 15 years.

About a year ago, while discussing the considerable historical significance of Cognitive Processes in Writing, we realized that despite the impressive increase in writing research that occurred since its publication, no book had appeared during this time that captured the state of our knowledge about writing in the same way. We therefore explored with some of the contributors to the Gregg and Steinberg book -- and many others, as well -- whether they also felt that there had been enough development to warrant another collective snapshot of the field. the consensus was that the time was ripe.

It was clear that a great deal of important work in writing was now being done by people all over the globe, most of whom had never actually met the others. It wasn't feasible for us to assemble these researchers at a traditional conference to discuss their current thinking and data. So we used the technology that has only recently become generally available (principally, World Wide Web browsers over the Internet) that would enable us to mount an extended, virtual conference. With everyone connected electronically, every collaborator could participate in the evolution of ideas that could emanate from laboratories in any of eight countries involved, simulating the exchange of ideas that is a hallmark of face-to-face conferences. We hoped that such electronic collaboration would foster cohesiveness to the book.

This book is divided into three sections. the first seven chapters capture some of the most recent thinking about the theoretical underpinnings of writing. Here, in chapter 1, Hayes presents his revision of the theory he first described with Flower in the first chapter of Gregg and Steinberg. the major differences from the earlier model are an emphasis on the central role of working memory, visual and spatial information, motivation and affect, and a reorganization of the cognitive processes involved. in chapter 2, Hayes and Nash discuss a theory for understanding planning and includes some methods for improving the analysis of planning data. Kellogg introduces his model of working memory in writing in chapter 3. This theory allows for the simultaneous activation of formulation (planning and translating), execution . . .

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