Iscourse Community Analysis Final Draft


An analysis, or to analyze, means to examine all the essential parts of something as a means for understanding the thing as a whole. In this essay, you will examine as many aspects of your chosen academic or professional discourse community as possible as a way of understanding it as completely as possible. This essay will prepare you to engage deeply with the conventions and genres of the discourse community in your Annotated Bibliography, and in your final paper, the Genre Adaptation.

The term discourse community links the terms discourse, a concept describing all forms of communication that contribute to a particular way of thinking, and community, which in this case refers to the people who use, and help create, a particular discourse. We will focus on formal (academic and professional) discourse communities in this class.

Some characteristics of discourse communities:

Have a broadly agreed-upon set of common public goals
Have mechanisms of intercommunication among its members
Use its participatory mechanisms primarily to provide information and feedback
Uses and possesses one or more genres in the communicative furtherance of its aims
In addition to owning genres, discourse communities use their own specific, shared language
(Swales, J.M., Genre Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.)


Written fully in MLA or APA style (or format used in your field of study, approved beforehand with your instructor)
Minimum of five (5) pages (not including title pages, abstract pages [abstracts count in length toward the writing, that is, if you write a half-page abstract, the rest of your paper can be four-and-a-half pages long and will meet the minimum requirement], figures, tables, images, or references)
Consider using section headings and sub-headings to organize your analysis: see the EXAMPLES for how this might be done

First, identify a formal (professional or academic) discourse community you are interested in researching and writing within this semester. ***I strongly recommend choosing one within your major unless you have a good reason not to.*** Some examples to help guide you are below.

If you are an agriculture major, some discourse communities might include Equestrian trainersor Ranchersor Large animal veterinarians.”
If you are an English major, some discourse communities might include English professorsor Technical writersor Literary critics.”
If you are a chemistry major, some discourse communities might include Pharmaceutical researchersor Biochemistsor Cosmetic chemists.”
Dont forget that discourse communities may be relatively small (e.g. Kindergarten teachers licensed in Utah) or relatively large (K-12 educators) and that some discourse communities fit within other discourse communities. Its up to you to decide how broad or narrow a scope you want to pursue. My advice is to avoid going too broad (too much to learn and write about within the scope of this class) and too narrow (there may be insufficient genres to study or too few resources to learn enough about it in time).

Begin with a description of your discourse community

First, define your discourse community in one or two sentences.
Then, answer some or all of the following questions, as relevant and appropriate, and observing the conventions of good academic/formal writing (that is, it shouldnt read like a list, but a cohesive set of complete sentences and paragraphs):
Who makes up the community?
How does one become a member?
What people/professions belong to the community?
What type of community is it? Formal? Informal? Both? In what way(s)?
Where do members do what they do?
Is your community defined by geography? By institution (university, hospital, corporation)?
When does the community meet (formally, as through local and national conferences, trade shows, community meetings, etc.)?
When does it transmit information? How does it transmit information?
Why does it exist?
What are its goals and/or aims?
What does it value?
How does the community meet its goals and/or aims?
How does it present itself?
What are some other related discourse communities?
Does it belong to a larger discourse community?
Are there notable sub-communities within your discourse community?
Other important information about your discourse community may arise as you answer these questions. You should feel free to include this in your analysis.
Next, Include an analysis of at least four (4) of the formal genres your discourse community uses.

First, identify four (4) or more genres your discourse community uses as a primary mode of communication: some examples include books (textbooks? novels? scholarly?), newspapers, journals, magazines, newsletters, blogs (professional rather than informal or personal), etc.
Next, ask…
Why does your discourse community use this genre?
When do they use it?
What style and format is it in?
Where is it typically published and distributed?
How timely is it–is it published immediately upon completion, or does it take time to go through a peer-review cycle, for instance?
What is the aim of the genre?
How does it fit the communitys needs?

Finish with some reflection (you may use first-person here, if it is helpful):

Include some of your own commentary and analysis of the discourse community. Discuss some things you discovered and/or learned during the research process. Discuss how your research has changed or altered your perception of the community. Discuss reasons why you believe this community follows the genre conventions and formats you discovered and what this tells you about what your community considers to be important.

Some tips:

Define your discourse community early on, but be prepared to make adjustments as you learn more
Consider using section headers for this essay
Cite all sources you skim, browse, consult, use, cite, quote, or mention in your essay