Tuesday, October 15, 2013

True Life: Official Style on Research Articles

The official style can be used in many different places. But, seeing as my college life is being consumed with Communication Studies research articles I decided to see how the official style is being used. In my college career I have skimmed through countless numbers of research articles, proposals, literature reviews, abstracts, and method sections. I chose to focus on a literature review written by Chen, Yea-Wen, and Masato Nakazawa who constructed a research project on self-disclosure in an intercultural and interracial friendship from the perspective of the social penetration theory done by Altman and Taylor (1973). Choosing fragments of the literature review to break apart in order to investigate the official style format was not easy. Social penetration theory is interesting and technically very easy to understand but Altman and Taylor did not write it as so. Before actually looking at the text, I was interested to see where this article was published.
       The Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, at first glance seems to be in official style but there needs to be more research done in order to determine that it is legitimate. The editor is Stephen M. Croucher from the University of Jväskylä, Finland and the assistant editors are Tina Harris, University of Georgia, USA, Eric Kramer, University of Oklahoma, USA, and Ramune Braziunaite, Bowling Green State University, USA. Professor Croucher is a member of many communication journals and also the editor of Speaker and Gavel a National Honorary Forensic Society. With the information acquired the Journal of Intercultural Communication Research is a true journal that strives to better understand interrelations between culture and communication. With the background of the journal complete, I began asking myself some questions about the text and its purpose for existing.
            After reading the literature review I was able to pick out some of the official style. To begin, we can see that this passage speaks to people in the communication field and professionals.

     The theoretical framework guiding the present study is Altman and Taylor’s (1973)
     Social penetration theory since it provides the linkage between self-disclosure and
     friendship development. The goals underlying Altman and Taylor’s (1973) development
     of social penetration theory were both to describe the course of growth or
     dissolution of interpersonal relationships and to address the issue of how people
     enact mutual exploration and formation of social bonds. In essence, Altman and
     Taylor (1973) explicated the roles of self-disclosure, intimacy, and communication
     in the development of interpersonal relationships.
     The authors chose to use communication jargon such as social penetration, self-disclosure, and mutual exploration. While these words are not hard to look up in the dictionary there is no need to if you are part of the communication circle. Seeing as the writing is directed for  people who are interested and/or study Intercultural Communication there is a need for jargon and it is used correctly.
     The next question: was it written to establish credibility and expertise or to alienate readers? It was probably written to establish credibility and expertise but not to alienate the readers. And also to build legitimate knowledge. This next section answers those questions.
     However, it has not been examined if the assumed gratification of self-disclosure is applicable to different cultures; thus, it warrants examination of the social penetration process in cross-cultural and intercultural relationships such as friendships.
      We can see that use of jargon again with more complicated sentences than one would see in a newspaper article. Journals require a higher writing capability than most public writing because not many "random" people pick it up. The audience is interested and somewhat knowledgeable therefore they can write to establish credibility and expertise. This article was also done to build knowledge on the topic. I know this because this journal has a call for papers, meaning they want a certain part further explained or discovered in order to better understand that situation or circumstance.
     After answering those questions, it is important to check if the official style context is used. In this writing the authors used the unspeakable and complex sentences to conjure up an official style.
            One part of the official style is looking at the words written. For example, in a media writing class the writer is writing for the ear not the eyes because the writing will be spoken out loud and then heard only once. The official style writes for the eyes fully understanding that it will or may be read over a couple of times before fully comprehending what is on the page.

Social penetration theory deconstructs and organizes personality structure into two general dimensions. The first is an area-based dimension of breath with not only breadth category but also breadth frequency. The second is a central-peripheral dimension of depth that starts at peripheral layers associated with biographical characteristics and moves toward central layers associated with less observable and more idiosyncratic characteristics.

            As a reader, just try saying these three sentences out loud without stuttering nor stopping. It may be possible but if you were speaking it to another person it would not be understandable. That is the exact point that the official style is trying to make and it is embedded in this piece of writing.

            The last part of the official style that is demonstrated in this research paper is about complex sentences. This can range from large words, to very lengthy sentences, and also the use of certain punctuation marks. Here we can see all three of the different criteria for being a complex sentence.

In essence, the overlapping dimensions of verbal, nonverbal, and environmental behaviors result in eight generic dimensions of the social penetration process: richness-breadth of interaction; uniqueness of interaction; efficiency of exchange; substitutability and equivalency; synchronization and pacing; permeability and openness; voluntariness and spontaneity of exchange; and evaluation.
            Throughout the research article there was official style embedded in every sentence and word trying to keep in check of what is wanted and needed. I chose a research paper with the idea in mind of it containing the official style but I did not know it was to this extent.  The different sentence structures, complex words, jargon, all while thinking about the activity system used makes this research paper official style
-Stephanie Cuevas

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