Volume 12, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0142-5471
  • E-ISSN: 1569-979X
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This paper presents a case for a genre-based approach to research into online communication. Questions about the appropriateness and extensiveness of research-based guidelines for communicating online exist. These questions include the appropriateness of transferring guidelines from research on print communication online without first re-verifying them, the appropriateness of generalizing conclusions from context-based, small sample-sized usabilty studies, the extent of generalizability of empirical studies, and the limited scope of guidelines that focus almost exclusively on physical features of text.Genre – ‘a familiar pattern, a way of organizing information that has become so common that readers will probably recognize each new instance as belonging to the genre’ (Price & Price, 2002:272) – provides an alternative, contextually-based approach. It is a useful context because most online communication occurs within the confines of a specific genre and, as genres become more common, users develop expectations about the type of content presented and the format of its presentation. Three methods can help researchers understand the nature of online genres: (1) discourse analysis helps researchers identify the features of a genre, (2) usability studies help researchers assess whether the features promote effective user performance (and, if so, how), and (3) design team research identifies why features were included and which other alternatives were considered, rejected, and why. An effective study of genre uses all three. Focusing on genre, too, allows researchers within sub-disciplines of communication to focus their work on their areas of specialty.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): online communication; genre; print communication
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