Related Readings: Moving Beyond the Academic Community

Anson, Chris M., and L. Lee Forsberg. 1990. “Moving Beyond the Academic Community.” Written Communication 7 (2): 200–231.

This qualitative study examined the transitions that writers make when moving from academic to professional discourse communities. Subjects were six university seniors enrolled in a special “writing internship course” in which they discussed and analyzed the writing they were doing in 12-week professional internships at corporations, small businesses, and public service agencies in a major metropolitan area. Participant-observer and case-study data included drafts and final copies of all writing that the interns produced on the job (including texts and suggested revisions by other employees), an ethnographic log of data and speculations arising from the group discussions, written course journals from each intern, transcriptions of taped, discourse-based and general interviews with the interns, and a final 15-page retrospective analysis of each intern’s writing on the job. Results showed a remarkably consistent pattern of expectation, frustration, and accommodation as the interns adjusted to their new writing communities. The results have important implications for the lateral and vertical transfer of writing skills across different communicative contexts.