Knowledge dissemination across media in English

Continuity and change in discourse strategies, ideologies, and epistemologies

Ministero dell’Istruzione dell’Università e della Ricerca


Research Units and coordinators

1 BONDI Marina Università degli Studi di MODENA e REGGIO EMILIA
2 GOTTI Maurizio Università degli Studi di BERGAMO
3 GARZONE Giuliana Elena Università degli Studi di MILANO
4 BROWNLEES Nicholas Università degli Studi di FIRENZE
5 CRAWFORD Belinda Blanche Università di PISA
6 SALVI Rita Università degli Studi di ROMA “La Sapienza”

Research project abstract

Knowledge dissemination (KD) is central to innovation in research and institutional change. The growth of specialization has created the need to make knowledge accessible also to non-experts (or experts in other fields), adopting communicative tools that can reach an ever growing, but not always indefinite, globalized audience. Unsurprisingly the increasing importance of KD has led to the emergence of a wide range of genres – from newspaper or journal articles to more recent web-mediated genres, which cater to different needs.

The project aims to investigate the practices and strategies of dissemination to various audiences in a range of different settings. Special attention will be paid to how specific genres have developed over time and how they have been tailored to the addressees’ needs. The focus is on different communicative environments: the press first and the world wide web nowadays, with its growing level of participation and interaction.

The study is based on comparable corpora and electronic collections of texts, which will show how domain-specific knowledge is mediated in specialized and popularizing discourse to address different stakeholders. The method employed will combine genre and discourse analysis with corpus linguistics, focusing on:

  1. the process of KD, tracing the emergence of new genres in a synchronic and diachronic perspective. Among the genres investigated are, e.g., newspapers, scientific and popular magazines from the 16th to the early 20th century, and modern-day journalism and web genres, with their intercultural and multimodal challenges. It will thus be possible to historically contextualize the discursive processes deployed across time;
  2. KD strategies across disciplines and communicative genres, focusing in particular on lexical and phraseological choices, textual processes, rhetorical structures and communicative strategies adopted: use of metadiscourse, definitions, repetitions, reformulations, analogies and metaphors; reader/listener engagement, simplification and explicitation strategies; multimodality;
  3. the degree of accuracy, alteration and bias of disseminated knowledge, in particular of sensitive topics, resulting from the transfer of specialised notions to targeted audiences, and especially to the lay public;
  4. features of KD in the context of highly asymmetrical communication, with special attention to KD intended for children or intercultural audiences, and the intercultural and interdiscursive aspects involved.

Expected results include:

  • a clearer definition of the nature of KD discourse
  • a detailed and critical analysis of KD strategies in a synchronic and diachronic perspective
  • an updated outline of the most representative genres in academic and institutional contexts (electronic and traditional)
  • the provision of guidelines for communicative strategies based on instances of best practice.