Paul Kei Matsuda

CFP: Special Issue on Corpus-Based Writing Research (Journalf of Writing Research)

Stephanie A. Schlitz
Assistant Professor, English and Linguistics
117B Bakeless Hall
Bloomsburg, PA 17815

Journal of Writing Research

Special Issue: Exploring a Corpus-Informed Approach to Writing Research

Call for Proposals:

Since the development of the Brown Corpus in the 1960s, leveraging language corpora and corpus-based methods to analyze and to describe spoken and written language has become an established tradition within the broad field of linguistics.

Writing researchers as well have begun extending corpus methods to L1 and L2 writing research. Research teams in the U.K. and the U.S., for example, have begun designing large reference corpora of student writing. The developers of the British Academic Written English Corpus suggest that the corpus "has the potential to chart growth patterns such as whether students’ arguments became more complex as their education advanced, whether students learned to integrate material from different sources in formulating conclusions, and whether students’ vocabulary became more specialized and precise" (Nesi et al. 446). And the forthcoming Michigan Corpus of Upper-Level Student Papers aims to provide a corpus of 1.6 million words written by students and to offer researchers the opportunity to quantitatively and qualitatively examine student writing in areas as diverse as writing development, genre variation, and disciplinary differences ("MICUSP").

The trend toward a corpus-informed approach to writing research also continues on a smaller scale. Given the ease with which individual teachers and researchers can create and mine corpora using text analysis software such as TextSTAT or WordSmith Tools, the development of small corpora by writing teachers who adopt the role of compiler-analyst is providing another avenue for corpus-informed writing research.

Yet, because corpus methods are relatively new to the field of writing research, there have been very few comprehensive discussions of the work in this area. The aim of this special JoWR issue, therefore, is to bring together teachers and researchers from a myriad of perspectives in an effort to explore the emerging field of corpus-informed writing research.

We invite papers covering a range of related topics, including discussions of the development of large, small, and parallel writing corpora; papers exploring the kinds of questions examined via
corpus research (e.g. diction and style, citation practices, usage, stylistic variation and its relationship to author gender, etc.); papers examining corpus methods (e.g. frequency lists, concordancing, examination of sociolinguistic variables, etc.) in the context of writing research; explanations of current and ongoing research; as well as discussions of the critiques surrounding a corpus-informed approach to writing research and the corpus-inclined researcher’s response to them. Authors are asked to write papers for a broad audience including readers with little or no corpus study familiarity.

Deadline for proposals (500-750 words in abstract form) is October 15, 2008. Proposers will receive initial notification by November 15, 2008. Final papers will be due by February 15, 2009.

Prior to acceptance, all final papers will undergo peer review as defined by JoWR’s peer review policy.

Proposals should be sent to: TBA


"MICUSP." University of Michigan English Language Institute. 12 Nov. 2007.

Nesi, Hilary, Gerard Sharpling, Lisa Ganobcsik-Williams. "Student papers across the curriculum: Designing and developing a corpus of British student writing." Computers and Composition 21 (2004): 439–450.

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Last update: January 6, 2008