Monday, July 10, 2006

The phrase "research as a second language" is of course too clever to be left by fate to a single individual to discover. And sure enough, it has been used to pitch an idea that I am very sympathetic to, viz., greater cooperation between librarians and composition teachers. They present it under the broader rubric of "research as a conversation", which is another good idea. I am not so much a teacher as an editor, but I can see the value of increased cooperation with the librarians here at the Business School. In fact, we already have something in the works for the future.

Anyway, the idea of linking the library to the composition (shades of Foucault's "archive"), is defended by Paula McMillen and Eric Hill in "Why teach 'research as a conversation' in freshman composition courses? A metaphor to help librarians and composition instructors develop a shared model" (Research Strategies 20, 2005, pp. 3-22). One part of their model at least is familiar to us: "research is like learning to converse in a second language" (I would probably add "training" after "research" to improve the grammar of that claim). In a follow up working paper, they hit on the formula "research as a second language" (and even the abbreviation "RSL"). Since I actually work with ESL writers, the parallels I draw I are perhaps stronger than mere metaphor. On the other hand, McMillen and Hill work in undergraduate settings, which is also where most of the ESL literature draws its material from. All in all, I think there will be a lot of fruitful connections between their work and mine.

I'm looking forward to reading their work more closely.

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