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Discourses and Tales of Grant-Seeking Activity

Academic Writing and Professional Expertise


Haying Feng

Grant seeking – the first step in knowledge production – has been an indispensable part of academic life, yet a challenging task for neophyte as well as veteran scholars. We are always curious about how grant winners compose their abstracts, cite previous work, present their proposed study, and negotiate with gate-keepers behind the scene. Building upon ethnographic data and a large corpus of authentic research grant proposals and grant reviews, this book intends to demystify the grant seeking activity. It is an invaluable resource for grant agencies, grant reviewers and grant writers, particularly novice grant writers and/or non-native English writers.
Discourses and Tales of Grant-Seeking Activity is however more than a resource book. It is one of the few studies that draw upon two genre theories, encompass both quantitative and qualitative research approaches, and unite an exploration of macro-level recurrences in discursive activity and micro-level examinations of individual writers’ agency, positioning, negotiation and identity construction. It enhances our understanding of the development of professional expertise in academia and thus will be of interest to researchers in the fields of academic writing, genre analysis and Language for Specific Purposes (LSP).


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CHAPTER ONE - Research on Grant-Seeking Activity - 1


1 CHAPTER 1 Research on Grant-Seeking Activity Grant seeking has become an indispensable part of academic life. It is the first step in the process of knowledge production (Berkenkotter and Huckin, 1995). In Myers’ (1990) words, ‘the researchers must get money in the first place if they are to publish articles and popularizations, par- ticipate in controversies, and be of interest to journalists’ (p. 41). In re- cent years this high-stakes activity has become even more important as academics’ research performance is now evaluated in part on the basis of how successful they have been in fundraising (Flowerdew, 2000). This book is an in-depth study of grant-seeking activity, looking not only at the discursive regularities, but also at the discursive interactions among various parties involved in this activity system. I seek to explore how scholars, particularly non-native English-speaking (henceforth NNES) scholars, either in the role of applicants or reviewers, are posi- tioned and position themselves in relation to other actors and institutions in the discursive interactions. The discursive acts of positioning and re-positioning, I suggest, can be a measure of, and contribute to, the de- velopment of academics’ professional expertise. This book, therefore, is about regularities as well as disruptions, generic integrity as well as indi- vidual agency, identification as well as negotiation (Wenger, 1998). This book has a basis provided in the work of genre researchers and of some other thinkers. In this introductory chapter, I will begin with an overview of previous research on grant-seeking activity by genre...

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