Research Questions

The design of the assessment tool has been developed out of several guiding questions regarding the need to understand more fully the nature of so-called “scholarly” online journal publications as legitimate evidence of academic achievement for tenure, promotion, and review (TPR) purposes in the subfield of Computers and Writing. Achieving such an understanding enables an explicit articulation of criteria used to determine the scholarly value of these online texts. Additionally, doing so can help invested TPR groups to more confidently explain and defend their work on equal grounds with print-based, traditional scholarship.

The first research question seeks to identify some of the defining qualities of these online texts:

(1) What are some of the common characteristics that comprise scholarly online journal publications?

This question explores the range of characteristics that appear most frequently in a select number of Kairos webtexts; its goal is to identify an initial set of criteria for distinguishing these online texts as a distinct genre. The second research question requires a guided textual analysis to identify the presence of traditional scholarly conventions in webtexts:

(2) In what ways do Kairos webtexts follow traditional scholarly conventions?

A review of traditional scholarly conventions reflected within print-based journal publications provides a framework for identifying those conventions most often followed within webtexts. This question carries significant implications: if webtexts effectively follow at least some conventions of print scholarship, they will, by association, appear to be more scholarly. The third and fourth research questions continue the textual analysis to identify whether and how these texts move beyond traditional conventions based on their incorporation of the medium’s unique allowances:

(3) In what ways do Kairos webtexts diverge from print-based conventions? (4) In what ways do the webtexts follow emerging conventions of web-based writing? What are the functions of these web-based conventions—e.g., (a) do they meet familiar goals of scholarship in presently unfamiliar ways and (b) what value do they add toward creating a new genre of scholarly online text?

A review of the emerging rhetorical conventions of online writing as well as their applicability to research-based arguments provides a framework for identifying their use within webtexts. This question is critical to establishing new criteria for assessing the scholarly value of texts that move beyond traditional conventions.