5dez 2021
00:00 UTC

A pragmatic study of research Partners webpages

International research groups seek for accountability of the public expenditure they receive from external bodies when communicating the progress and outcomes of their projects. Likewise, they aim to foster the visibility of both the scientific knowledge they produce and the research group they conform, for which they employ digital settings. Research project websites have settled as a venue for them to spread their ongoing investigations and try to increase the transfer and impact of their results. In promoting the quality of their projects and engaging potentially interested users, members of the project consortium are explicitly introduced, and their participation in the investigation is carefully justified. This is the communicative purpose of Partners sections within research project websites, as they involve the description of project members and their professional and sociocultural background, as well as of their role in the research undertaken. Hence, this paper analyses the Partners web sections contained in the EUROPRO digital corpus, which looks into the digital practices endorsed by European research projects participating in the Horizon2020 framework and includes 30 research project websites and 20 Twitter accounts. A self-designed taxonomy of pragmatic strategies is provided from the data-driven exploration and revision of the corpus to cater for researchers’ intentions when communicating their projects to the public. Web-generated texts building the Partners sections were coded for the inclusion of such taxonomy of pragmatic strategies using the software NVivo 12. An intra-coder reliability test was carried out to minimise potential subjectivity in the analysis. Findings show that two pragmatic strategies primarily permeate such texts: “Disclosing factual information about researchers” and “Highlighting members’ contributions to the project”. Various, different strategies, with lower frequency in the corpus, are recurrently deployed within each of these, and contribute to their overriding pragmatic intents (e.g. “Underlining relevance through figures” for the former; “Reporting on research procedure” for the latter). A resulting pattern has been sketched, in which prototypical combinations of pragmatic strategies yield a rhetorical structure that helps convey research groups’ communicative purposes when presenting their project members. Other strategies, such as “Making information visually salient” and “Offering contacts for information”, consistently appear across partners’ descriptions and are therefore more flexible in this rhetorical sequence. Overall, this pragmatic, data-driven analysis offers an innovative perspective into research groups’ discursive practices in online settings. The identification of prominent pragmatic strategies and a consistent rhetorical structure may inform future researchers of the digital discursive trends in the dissemination of project information, specifically when introducing project partners.