Chapter 6. Graphics and invention in academic engineers’ writing for publication

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This chapter explores how academic engineers write for publication, focusing on “invention” – that is, moments when writers identify the research results they want to present and decide on the arguments they want to make in an article. A key finding presented is that beyond the well-documented role of graphics in displaying research results, graphics also play a crucial heuristic role in invention. This finding emerged from an ethnographic study of three engineering research groups, which entailed the analysis of a range of qualitative data to offer perspectives on the experiences of academic engineers writing for publication. Drawing on this research, the chapter documents that in developing texts for publication, engineers often begin with the graphic results of data analysis to identify findings and begin to craft arguments. Further, in research group and informal meetings, engineers invoke the notion of storytelling through graphics as they socialize their group members into the practices of research dissemination via posters and articles.


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