Karen J. Lunsford | Current Research


A. Distributed Publication Systems

B. Learning Management Systems

C. Patterns in First-Year College Writing and Teacher Response

D. Special issue of Across the Disciplines



UCSB Undergraduate and Graduate Students: Please note that projects marked (RO) may have open research opportunities.  These projects meet the first-year (graduate) research internship requirement. 


In my individual and collaborative work, I employ interdisciplinary approaches to understand the writing practices that people engage in within evolving knowledge ecologies, how argument and argumentation are defined in these ecologies, and what roles technologies play in these practices and definitions.  By knowledge ecology, I mean the multilayered interactions among people, institutions, media/technologies, and practices that form a setting under analysis.  My research sites include classrooms, departmental programs, collaborative research teams, and workplace environments.  My research methods typically combine qualitative techniques (interviews, observations, surveys), discourse analysis (of texts, speech genres), and social network analysis (from the perspectives of the individual and/or a whole team).  Currently, my research falls into three major areas:  a) interpretive studies of how groups and individuals are adapting their argumentation practices to accommodate distributed publication systems; b) assessments and development of online learning management systems; and c) a nationwide study of patterns in first-year student writing and teacher response.  Some of my research results have been incorporated into two collaboratories, The Inquiry Page and iLabs—both web-based suites of tools for supporting inquiry-based learning in classroom, community, and research settings.  My collaboratory experience is now informing our Writing Program's use of the open-source course management system Sakai.  I am currently the guest editor of a special issue of Across the Disciplines -- Writing technologies and writing across the curriculum: Current lessons and future trends, to be published in Fall 2008. 

A. Distributed Publication Systems

Distributed Publication Systems in the Sciences   (RO)

As recent initiatives attest, disciplinary and professional norms for scientific publication are rapidly changing.  In the European Union and neighboring countries, the Open Access movement has been seeking to enable public access to peer-reviewed articles; in the U.S., a similar impulse has been codified in the proposed Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA).  Similarly, granting agencies have been mandating that procedures for sharing research data (often in shared repositories) must be included in grant proposals.  For scientists worldwide, therefore, a 'publication' may involve far more than a research article published in an established journal.  Rather, a publication may include information presented in a wide variety of technologies more or less connected together in a distributed system--technologies such as an official journal archive, plus a preprint archive, plus a postprint institutional repository, plus a blog, plus a centralized modeling database, and so on.  As yet, however, little research has been done on how scientists are negotiating such distributed systems of publication, and particularly how they use them to convey scientific arguments.

This project involves interviews with up to 40 participants located in the U.S. and Norway, as well as analyses of their texts. 

Research assistants have helped with compiling bibliographies, developing interview protocols, transcribing interviews, and identifying texts for analysis.  Further data collection is underway.

For related work, see:

Lunsford, Karen J.  (2007).  Remediating science: A case study of socialization.  In Prior, Paul A.; Solberg, Janine; Berry, Patrick; Bellwoar, Hannah; Chewning, Bill; Lunsford, Karen J.; Rohan, Liz; Roozen, Kevin; Sheridan-Rabideau, Mary P.; Shipka, Jody; van Ittersum, Derek; & Walker, Joyce, (authors and contributors), Re-mediating and re-situating the canons: A cultural-historical remapping of rhetorical activityKairos, 11.3.  Available at http://kairos.technorhetoric.net/11.3/index.html.

Haythornthwaite, Caroline; Lunsford, Karen J.; Bowker, Geoffrey C.; Bruce, Bertram C. (Chip).  (2006).  Challenges for research and practice in distributed, interdisciplinary collaboration.  In Hine, Christine (Ed.), New infrastructures for knowledge production: Understanding e-science (pp. 143-166).  Hershey, PA: Idea Group, Inc.

Distributed Knowledge in the ECAT Group
With Caroline Haythornthwaite, under the auspices of the Distributed Knowledge Research Collaborative

This is a case study of a consortium that was funded to develop a database of resources for fostering diversity in educational settings.  The project includes interviews with 23 consortium members, as well as analyses of their texts.  I am currently writing up reports from this work. 

Haythornthwaite, Caroline; Lunsford, Karen J.; Kazmer, Michelle M.; Robins, Jenny; & Nazarova, Muzhgan.  (2003).  The generative dance in pursuit of generative knowledge. Proceedings of the 36th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society.  Available from the HICSS Digital Library, http://www.hicss.hawaii.edu/diglib.htm

B. Learning Management Systems

Sakai Development  (RO)
With Jane Faulkner, UCSB Libraries

This project builds upon an existing collaboration between the Writing Program and the UCSB Libraries.  During 2006-2007, we developed model writing course sites, plus their accompanying library orientation materials, in the Course Management System (CMS) called Sakai.  For 2007-2008, we are assessing how well and in what ways other Writing Program and librarians can adopt these materials for use in their own classes (whether in Sakai or another CMS); and we are assessing undergraduate students' responses to the CMS materials.  On the basis of these assessments, we will develop the model writing courses further. 

Research assistants have analyzed the Sakai tools, developed model course sites, and piloted various Sakai features in classes.  They have also created Camtasia videos to train users on how to use Sakai and library technologies, and have co-authored articles.  We will continue to develop and assess various materials. 

Lunsford, Karen J.; & Faulkner, Jane; with Brown, Alison; Chu, Vicki; Ford, James; Miley, Steve; & Nichols, Cassandra.  (2007).  SAKAI materials for library orientations: A collaboration between the UCSB libraries and the writing program (A CMS narrative).  Praxis section, Kairos, 11.3.  Available at http://praxis.technorhetoric.net/index.php/Featured

Comparison of Online and F2F Research Writing Courses (RO)
With Christopher Dean and Susan McLeod

This project is a pilot to help inform policies for online/hybrid writing courses in the UC system, as well as (more generally) a study of students' experiences with online research writing courses.  Using course surveys, focus group interviews, and text analysis, it compares online research writing courses (in Moodle) with their f2f counterparts.

Research assistants have collated surveys, conducted and transcribed focus group interviews, and will soon begin textual analysis. 

C. Patterns in First-Year College Writing and Teacher Response

Patterns in First-Year College Writing and Teacher Response (RO)
Andrea A. Lunsford & Karen J. Lunsford

Begun in September 2004, this study aimed to replicate one conducted by Robert Connors and Andrea Lunsford over two decades ago.  The results of the Connors and Lunsford study challenged several long-held assumptions about the kinds of errors students are most likely to make and about how teachers view those mistakes (see "Frequency of Formal Errors in Current College Writing, or Ma and Pa Kettle Do Research." College Composition and Communication 39 (1988): 395-409).  The current study has charted some of the changes that have occurred since then as students have taken up new genres and new writing technologies. 

Research assistants have helped with data collection, and they have coded papers (e.g., student errors, teachers' comments, patterns in the use of technologies).  They have also collated and analyzed results.  More analysis remains to be done.

The first article from the current study will be published sometime in 2007-2008 by College Composition and Communication.  Reports on the new Top Twenty error list can also be found in the latest edition of The St. Martin's Handbook, by Andrea Lunsford.  Further articles are underway.

D. Special issue of Across the Disciplines

Special issue of Across the DisciplinesWriting technologies and writing across the curriculum: Current lessons and future trends.(RO)

In progress; to be published Fall 2008.  Seehttp://wac.colostate.edu/atd/call_technology.cfm

I anticipate that assistants may help with reviewing and preparing manuscripts (including multimedia) for publication, starting Winter quarter 2008.