Socializing NNES novice scholars into disciplinary discourse communities: A research writing course
Huang, Ju Chuan
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Writing for publication in English has become an important skill for survival in academia, but writing in this unfamiliar language often concerns non-native English speaking (NNES) scholars. Literature has documented the discursive and non-discursive challenges faced by NNES scholars; however, little research has examined how English for Specific Purposes (ESP) specialists can prepare this group of scholars for these challenges. This research study designed and delivered a research writing course, and evaluated the extent to which this course familiarized NNES novice scholars with skills for writing research articles (RAs) in their discipline and sensitized them with sociopolitical issues that arise from scholarly publication. The researcher designed and delivered an instructional course at three Taiwanese universities to a total of 14 Taiwanese graduate students. In this course, graduate students were instructed to analyze the moves of an RA in their discipline, and to write an RA as the course assignment. In addition, students were encouraged to discuss sociopolitical issues with regards to scholarly publication, including plagiarism, the dichotomy of NES and NNES scholars, and challenges presented by local Chinese journals. Data were collected from pre-course and post-course questionnaires and interviews, audio-recorded class interactions and individual conferences, and students' written texts. The study shows that the students developed research writing skills by improving logical presentation, clarity, and linguistic accuracy; many of them also learned to view writing as situated practice, closely linked to writers and readers. In addition, the students heightened their critical awareness of sociopolitical issues regarding scholarly publication and developed a sense of empowerment. They no longer perceived being NNES scholars as disadvantaged, but as an opportunity to explore novice research agendas. Overall, the students greatly appreciated this course as well as the discussions on sociopolitical issues with reference to academic publishing. Based on the findings, this study offers insightful implications for improving writing curricula by proposing a contextual model for learning research writing; it also informs writing instructors who adopt genre pedagogy of ways to empower disadvantaged students. Finally, this study contributes to the field of ESP by providing strategies for supporting ESP instructors.