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Auteur: Mathias FÜRER


Writing phases reconsidered: contexts, scales, typologies

Abstract/Résumé: Thus far, writing has been described in the research literature as an interplay of situations, strategies, and phases – with phases being identifiable temporal procedural units with typical dominant writing actions such as “formulating” or “source reading”. Phases are recognized as essential for the success of writing processes (Baurmann & Weingarten 1995). At the same time, most scientific approaches to writing base their phase concepts and phase descriptions on introspection or single case studies. The methodology for a rigorous, objectively verifiable analysis of the structure of writing processes and therefore for an empirically testable explanation of the nature and interplay of phases in writing processes has not yet been developed. Based on the data compiled for the Modeling Writing Phases (Swiss National Science Foundation, 2010–2013) research project the present project aims to empirically explore and to categorize writing phases and thus to provide a solid foundation for good practice models of writing processes. The investigated data belong to one of the most extensive data collections of writing processes in natural settings (Perrin & Wildi 2010). The data are available in time series format that allows the use of particular statistical techniques beyond those normally associated with corpus linguistics, for example signal extraction. With techniques like this, it is possible to model writing phases by statistical means. The development of unprecedented methodical approaches for investigating writing processes is situated in the theoretical framework of the Dynamic System Theory. DST enables researchers to track the dynamics of complex systems such as newswriting and to explain the often non-linear change in dynamic contexts (Larsen-Freeman & Cameron 2008). As social structures permanently interact with people’s situated activity, contexts always change. Results allow us a) to deduce empirically- and theoretically-based scales and typologies of writing processes in specific settings and therefore b) to systematically evaluate competence and progress in (professional) writing. Both a) and b) are essential for the design of systematic writing courses, training and coaching. As a first result of the ongoing project, contexts, scales and typologies of writing phases were empirically identified. In the presentation, I first outline the data architecture and define then what I understand under writing phases. Third, I explain how I identified writing phases in a large corpus of news writing processes from three different TV newsrooms. I lastly show how I categorized the writing phases into scales and typologies.