5dez 2022
06:30 UTC

Personal references in research project blogs: Constructing an institutional authorial voice and engaging audiences

Digital communication plays a fundamental role in the current practices of researches to share their knowledge production and promote scientific dissemination (Lorés and Diani 2021; Mur-Dueñas and Lorés 2022). This is also the case of international research groups, made up of members coming from various institutions and bringing diverse professional backgrounds, who normally get involved on large-scale projects thanks to the public expenditure granted by funding institutions. Among their digital practices, the design of a website for such projects is essential, and serves as a space to construct an identity and share the evolution of their work. Research project websites usually feature in their menus About, Partners, News and Publications sections, and it is often the case that they also comprise a Blog section. Scientific and research blogs have been long now investigated as a popular object of inquiry in specialized communication (e.g. Mauranen 2013; Kuteeva 2016; Luzón 2013, 2018; Freddi 2019). However, not much research has been undertaken on their specific use in the context of international research projects. The objective of this paper then is to analyse the personal references employed by research groups in this particular web section, their project blogs, and the implications of how these choices affect the construction of their authorial voice and the extent to which the audience is engaged.
The sample of blogs scrutinized has been filtered from the EUROPRO Digital Database (Pascual, Mur-Dueñas and Lorés 2020), which contains 100 websites held by Horizon2020 research projects. In total, 17 websites included a blog section. Ten posts were collected out of each blog, resulting in 170 texts. Relying on frameworks of metadiscourse (Hyland 2005; Mur-Dueñas 2011) and interpersonality and authorial voice (Hyland 2002, Lorés-Sanz, Mur-Dueñas and Lafuente-Millán 2010; Lorés-Sanz and Herrando-Rodrigo 2020) personal references (both the use of self-mentions and proper names and second person references) are analyzed using the AntConc software, in order to observe their strategic use in the discourse of these blogs. Findings indicate that the use of self-mentions in project blogs leads to building an institutional identity, which also displays communal traits, over the members’ individual identities. The project name is used as a self-representation mechanism, but personal pronouns are much more frequent than in other webs sections. Results also hint at a great use of inclusive references (we) to make the audience feel involved and establish common knowledge, as well as direct references (you) to call users’ attention and guide them both through the text and the research of the project. Overall, the study contributes to understanding researchers’ digital practices and shedding light into on how linguistic choices influence both the construction of their authorial voice and the attempt to establish bridges with the audience for the communication of their international research projects.