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Sudtida Phanlertrapee
Le Thi Nhat Nguyen
Pham Thi Phuong Thuy
Doing Discourse Analysis
 Developing a Discourse Analysis Project
 Choosing a Research Topic
 Focusing a Research Topic
 Turning topic into a research question
 Two Sample Discourse Studies
 Combining Discourse and other Research
 Evaluating a Discourse Analysis Project
Doing Discourse Analysis
 This chapter considers the items that need attention
before starting a discourse analysis project.
Developing a Discourse Analysis
 The first of these is the actual research question. The
key to any good research project is a well-focused
research question.
 Cameron 2001 has suggested that one important
characteristic of a good research project is that it has
‘a good idea’; that is, the project is on something that
is worth finding out about.
Choosing a Research Topic
 A good place to start in choosing a research question
is by drawing up a shortlist of topics that interest you.
Focusing a Research Topic

 Stevens and Asmar suggest, wiser heads know that a

good research project is, “marrow and deep”.
 It is useful to write a few lines on each topic and use this
as the basis to talk to other people about the research.
Often one topic may emerge as the strongest contender
from these conversations, not only because it is the most
original or interesting but also because it is the most
doable in terms of access to data and resource facilities,
your expertise in the use of discourse analysis techniques,
as well as supervision support.
Turning topic into a research question
 It is important, then, as my student did, to strike a balance between the value
of the question and your ability to develop a discourse analysis project you
are capable of carrying out; that is, a project for which you have the
background, expertise, resources and access to data needed. It is also
important to spend as much time as is needed to get the research question(s)
right as research questions that are well-designed and well-worded are key
to a good research project (Sunderland 2010)
Two Sample Discourse Studies
The two projects that follow are both
examples of studies which combine
approaches to research in the analysis of structure
A Spoken Discourse Project
Silence in the Japanese students’ tutorial interactions in
(1)Summary of the Study
Nakane combines the technical of conversation analysis
with ethnographic data in order to get multiple
perspectives on the question she was investigating.
(2)Aim of the Study
The aim of her study was to examine the communication
problems faced by the Japanese students during English
medium university classes.
(3)Methodology of Study
individual interviews, focus group discussions and
administered questionnaires.
(4)Results of the Study
The study disclosed that silence was one of the major
problems for Japanese students and for teachers as
well. She reached the conclusion that the degree of
silence varied among the students.
(5)Commentary on the Study
These multiple data sources provided for a
detailed and fine-grained analysis of the research
(6)Further Research
She wants to say that her work on Japanese silence
needs to be further probed into and more data should
be accumulated.
A Written Discourse Project
A contrastive analysis of letters to the editor in Chinese
and English
(1)Summary of the Study
Wang’s contrastive study of the letters to the editor in English
and Chinese is an example of a written discourse project that
drew on the frameworks of contrastive rhetoric and systemic
functional view of genre.
(2)Aim of the Study
Wang’s study had several research questions like
in what ways are Chinese and English letters similar or
different in terms of their rhetorical structures to the editor.
(3)Methodology of Study
Wang took ten letters to the editor in Chinese and English
published newspapers. He looked at the schematic structure of
each of the two sets of data, the rhetoric types represented
between the clauses and clause complexes in two sets of
(4)Results of the Study
Wang found that Chinese and English letters to the editor
shared some similarities at the level of schematic structures but
differ in cultural aspects and style of writing.
(5)Commentary on the Study
By employing approaches to analysis from
systematic functional genre studies and contrastive
rhetoric he was able to carry out a detailed
examination between similarities and differences of
letters to editor in English and Chinese at different
levels of analysis.
(6)Further Research
Wang says that there are definitely limitation in his
work on Chinese and English data and so further data
be collected to improve the validity of the research.
Combining Discourse and other
Research Perspectives
Evaluating a Discourse Analysis