Follow-Up to Our January GSC Webinar
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant changes and disruptions in higher education, which is particularly pertinent to human subjects research. As a result of physical and other constraints, many graduate students have had to rethink their approach to research design. To address this issue and support our fellow graduate students, the Event Planning Subcommittee organized a webinar on the topic of remote research with Dr. Camilla Vasquez, University of South Florida, which Rong Ren is summarizing here.
Camilla Vásquez is Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of South Florida, where she directs the Ph.D. program in Linguistics and Applied Language Studies (LALS). In her research, Camilla applies discourse analytic, sociolinguistic and pragmatics-based approaches to explore naturally-occurring language in a wide range of (mostly digital) contexts. She has been studying the language of online reviews for over a decade, and published a monograph on this topic (The Discourse of Online Consumer Reviews, Bloomsbury, 2014) as well as numerous articles in journals across multiple disciplines (Journal of Pragmatics, Intercultural Pragmatics, Narrative Inquiry, Current Issues in Tourism, Food & Foodways, Visual Communication). In her latest book, Camilla examines linguistic humor and creativity in several online genres (Language, Creativity and Humour Online, Routledge, 2019). She is currently editing a book designed for graduate students, which focuses on research methods for digital discourse analysis. Camilla serves as Associate Editor for Discourse, Context & Media.
On January 15th, 2021, the AAAL GSC Event Planning Subcommittee hosted its second webinar titled “Meet a Scholar,” featuring Dr. Camilla Vasquez, who is a professor of applied linguistics at the University of South Florida. This webinar focused on students’ concerns about research design during the pandemic and discussed the possible ways for applied linguists to conduct research during adverse times like this.
Dr. Vasquez started her talk with a brief self-introduction, where she traced and reflected on her trajectory of studying digital discourse. She first began researching online hotel reviews over a decade ago due to personal interest and has since published a monograph on this topic as well as numerous articles in journals across multiple disciplines. After the start of the pandemic, Dr. Vasquez shifted her focus to YouTube videos related to COVID-19 and online Airbnb reviews.
After introducing her research, Dr. Vasquez provided some practical tips for conducting digital research. She noted that YouTube provides useful tools for linguists, including rough transcripts of video data. Dr. Vasquez also recommended that participants read existing research, practice formulating research questions to guide online data collection, and collect working sample data that contains around 100 samples. She also touched upon how to deal with ethical issues in digital studies. At the end of her talk, Dr. Vasquez shared with attendees some recent digital discourse studies and her students’ interesting research topics. The readings mentioned by Dr. Vasquez are listed below.
Attendees were very interested in this topic and asked a lot of questions during the Q&A session. The questions covered aspects like popular data collection tools and platforms, the implications of studying online reviews, and analytical tools or frameworks commonly utilized in digital discourse studies. Dr. Vasquez kindly answered all the questions and brought more thought-provoking ideas into the conversation. For example, she mentioned that programming languages (e.g., Python) can help to scrap online data efficiently, or that we should utilize analytical frameworks appropriate for our research questions.
Suggested Readings provided by Dr. Camilla Vasquez:
1. EMPIRICAL RESEARCH. Some recent digital discourse studies to read for inspiration:
Creelman, V. (2015). Sheer outrage: Negotiating customer dissatisfaction and interaction in the blogosphere. In E. Darics (Ed.), Digital business discourse (pp. 160-185). Palgrave Macmillan.
2. METHODOLOGY. Currently, the go-to methodology text for digital discourse analysis is:
Page, R., Barton, D., Unger, J., & Zappavigna, M. (2014). Researching language and social media: A student guide. Routledge.
Vásquez, C. (Ed.) (forthcoming). Research methods for digital discourse analysis. Bloomsbury.
3. ETHICS. The Association of Internet Research’s (AOIR) most recent set of ethical guidelines provide important food for thought and all kinds of useful information.
Rong Ren is a Ph.D. candidate in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics from Arizona State University. She is a member of the 2021-2022 GSC Event Planning Sub-Committee. Her research interests lie in English varieties in China, ESL leaners’ self-perception, and speech production. She can be reached at .