Using electronic publishing as a resource for increasing empirical and interpretive accountability in conversation analysis

Numa Markee, Jon Stansell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Conversation analysis (CA) emerged as a form of microsociology in the 1960s at the same time that audio (and later, video) recording technologies became widely available to consumers. The development of these technologies made it relatively easy for analysts to record, transcribe, and analyze how members collaboratively coconstruct social order in naturally occurring talk-in-interaction. A key feature of the intellectual discourse of CA work has always been that analysts make their data available for public inspection. In this way, readers of this research may judge for themselves whether the original analyses are well-founded. This methodological practice also allows readers to propose alternative interpretations of the data if they disagree with the original writer's analyses. Now, recordings of the talk-in-interaction that is being studied have always been considered to be the primary data in CA. However, in practice, written transcripts have until recently been the most widely available sources of information in conventional, paper-based publishing. With the development and rapid diffusion of computers from the 1980s onward, it is now possible to integrate video and audio recordings with text and graphics in a single electronic environment. In this article, we argue that for CA the advent of the digital publishing era is not an intellectual luxuryit is a necessity. More specifically, digital publishing using Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 technologies enables CA researchers to develop standards of intellectual accountability that are even more rigorous than those that are currently possible in the realm of conventional paper-based publishing. Readers of CA research may now expect to have access to primary as well as secondary data. That is, as electronic journals become the norm in academic publishing, readers will be able to view or listen to the original recordings as well as read the transcripts that are developed from primary sources. This ability to view original recordings is particularly important when behaviors that are difficult to transcribe transparentlysuch as eye gaze, gesture, and embodied actionsare incorporated into an analysis. We also suggest that readers will be able to engage in electronic data sessions that complement, and possibly transcend, what can be achieved by their older, face-to-face siblings as a means of building electronic communities of scholars. This article illustrates how these trends are likely to play out in practice by developing a conversation analysis of exophoric deictic reference that is based on data that are organized and presented in a native electronic format. A companion Web site at index.php?&action=site&site=virtualdata also demonstrates how electronic data sessions might be conducted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-44
Number of pages21
JournalAnnual Review of Applied Linguistics
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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