PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Making “not the deficit model” specific
Rhetorical analysis to evaluate and design texts for research-industry collaboration

Erika Szymanski  

Written texts, in all their various physical and digital modes, remain key elements of science communication in an era of increasing digital publication. Reading texts not only as delivering content but as structuring relationships, I consider how rhetorical elements of science communication writing promote or work against collaboration amongst scientific researchers and industry members expected to benefit from their work. The New World wine industry offers a case study in which applied scientific research is expected to have direct implications for practicing winemakers and grape growers, and where industry members have expertise making their participation in many stages of the scientific process possible. Through a rhetorical and critical discourse analysis of wine science communication texts, I first document how those texts currently enact research-industry collaboration, then suggest rhetorical strategies for more purposefully aligning what those texts do with larger organizational goals. Beyond implications for the specific case, this study points to the value of analyzing how written texts function as relationship-mediators and how rhetorical features can be manipulated to promote collaboration amongst authors and audiences. It also revisits the methodological contributions of rhetorical theory to science communication and suggests attention to texts, beyond content analysis, as a tool for evaluating, understanding, and facilitating relationships in our motion toward increasingly participatory and democratic science practices. This study will be complete by the time it is presented.

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