Here’s the announcement for a class that I’m teaching this winter (linked from the university’s e-teaching platform).

Doing A Research Project in English Linguistics: Computer-mediated Communication
Monday, 14.30-16.30, Raum 23.21 00.44B (Forum des Forschungszentrums)
Thursday, 14.30-16.30, Gebäude 23.21 Raum U1.46

Anmerkung: Der Kurs wird als forschungsorientiertes Blockseminar an sieben Terminen im Verlauf des Semesters abgehalten. Die aktive Beteiligung an einer Arbeitsgruppe und die Dokumention der Gruppenarbeit in ILIAS ist zwingende Teilnahmevoraussetzung.

For linguists studying language use, computer-mediated communication (CMC) plays an increasingly important role, both as a source of linguistic data and as an object of study in its own right. CMC historically encompasses a variety of electronic communications channels, such as SMS, paging, and pre-Internet forms of messaging and chat. Increasingly, however, the term identifies Internet-native formats of both Web 1.0 (email, IRC, instant messaging, discussion forums) and Web 2.0 (blogs, social networking sites, microblogging) through which users transmit both typed text and multimedia content.

Herring (2004) presents a concise framework for the analysis of CMC via the methodology of computer-mediated discourse analysis (CMDA). The objective of this class is for participants to form research teams of 2-4 students per group and conduct a small-scale study of CMC applying the CMDA framework that Herring outlines.

In order to give you the opportunity to realize your own project, the class differs from the usual format of weekly meetings. Rather than meeting one per week, the semester is divided into presence phases and research phases. Presence phases are used for discussion, practical training in applying the CMDA framework and the presentation of results, while research phases are at the disposal of the research teams for tasks such as gathering data, analyzing results and preparing presentations. After an introduction to the CMDA methodology, research teams will prepare and present their project proposals to the class, then work on the realization of their respective projects, and, after research has been conducted, present their findings at the end of the semester.

In order to conduct a (small) CMDA research project under supervision, it is beneficial for students to have a solid foundation in linguistics (morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and especially discourse analysis) as well as an interest in empirical research and communication on and through the Internet (both as an object of research and for communicating among each other during research phases). Technical skills (e.g. knowledge of HTML, basic programming) are not required, but will also be quite useful.

Registration via email
In addition to signing up via the HISLSF, please register for the class by sending an email to before October 1st. The number of slots is limited to 30 participants.

BN requirements
- presentation of project proposal (mid-term) or final results (end of the semester)
- active participation during presence and research phases
- regular readings

AP requirements
- term paper

Herring, S. C. (2004). Computer-mediated discourse analysis: An approach to researching online behavior. In: S. A. Barab, R. Kling, and J. H. Gray (Eds.), Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning (pp. 338-376). New York: Cambridge University Press. Available online at:

Kouper, I. (2010). The pragmatics of peer advice in a LiveJournal community. Language@Internet, 7, article 1. Available online at:

Herring, S. C. (2010). Who’s got the floor in computer-mediated conversation? Edelsky’s gender patterns revisited. Language@Internet, 7, article 8. Available online at:

Herring, S. C. (In press, 2011). Grammar and electronic communication. In C. Chapelle (Ed.), Encyclopedia of applied linguistics. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell. Available online at:

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