Print-Based Conventions (Category A) Summary: Convergence

Category A of the Assessment Tool was developed in response to one of the three main research questions guiding this study: “In what ways do Kairos webtexts follow traditional scholarly conventions?” Traditional print-based scholarly texts are recognized and valued based on their incorporation of familiar, generally-accepted conventions that guide successful writing in this genre. These conventions (such as those associated with content, arrangement, documentation, and tone) serve specific functions that help to achieve the rhetorical goals of this type of academic discourse. Texts that adhere to these conventions are more likely to be seen as scholarship.

A widespread perception exists within academic communities that online publications are not as scholarly as print-based publications. One reason for this perception is that online texts incorporating the technological allowances of the medium tend to look different from print-based texts—most obviously in their formal structure—and therefore disrupt readers’ expectations of what a scholarly text should look like.

However, as a preliminary review of several Kairos webtexts showed, many of the webtexts published in this journal address traditional scholarly goals in key conventional ways. The questions that comprise this category of the assessment tool explore the extent to which certain conventions developed for the traditional print medium function within online texts. These questions offer a way to begin a conversation about the nature of online scholarship; such a conversation would naturally include an analysis of how these traditional conventions function within seemingly non-traditional texts and what value/s they have for legitimizing this emerging genre of online scholarship. (Due to the length of the discussion that such an analysis would require, it will be saved for a separate publication.)