The course aims to provide students with

  • sound knowledge of the complexities involved in applying a range of qualitative research methods to the sociolinguistic study of language use online and offline;
  • an ability to analyse data taken from online and/or offline spaces in an appropriate, critical, curious and reflexive manner;
  • competence to present findings of qualitative research by means of an academic poster.




Lectures: Fridays, 12:30-2:20pm
Lecturing, group discussion, collaborative viewing of data and student poster presentations

Tutorials: Tuesdays, 12:30-1:20pm
Student-led group activities and practical workshops

Office Hours
Please make individual arrangements (at least once during the semester) to see Jaspal and discuss your research project and clarify any questions you might have.



Coursework Assessment

Assessment for the course is 100% coursework. This is made up of:

15% - Written reflexive commentary on on-campus (participant) observation (ca. 500 words) submission
25% - Learning journal entry (ca. 1000 words on one or two qualitative research methods introduced in the course)
10% - Presentation on semiotic landscapes (ca. two minutes)
30% - Academic poster (one page)
20% - Presentation of academic poster (ca. two minutes)

Note: Students who miss more than three classes, for whatever reason, will be considered as not having completed the course and will not receive a final grade.



Course syllabus

Week 1

Tutorial 3 Sep 2019: Welcome and general introduction
Lecture 6 Sep 2019: Introduction – Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods in empirical sociolinguistics, online and offline worlds

Week 2

Tutorial 10 Sep 2019: Ideas for research projects, how to write a learning journal
Lecture 13 Sep 2019: Data collection

Week 3

Tutorial 17 Sep 2019: Asking researchable questions
Lecture 20 Sep 2019: The qualitative research interview

Week 4

Tutorial 24 Sep 2019: In-class interviewing exercise
Lecture 27 Sep 2019: Ethnography and participant observation

Week 5

Tutorial 1 Oct 2019: ***No classes*** (Public Holiday: National Day)
Lecture 4 Oct 2019: On-campus (participant) observation

Week 6

Tutorial 8 Oct 2019: Writing workshop
Submission due 10 Oct 2019: Reflexive commentary on (participant) observation or interviewing (500 words, 15%)
Lecture 11 Oct 2019: Semiotic landscapes and multimodal analysis

Week 7

***No classes*** (Reading Week)

Week 8

Tutorial 22 Oct 2019: Student presentations on semiotic landscapes (10%)
Lecture 25 Oct 2019: Conversation analysis and transcription

Week 9

Tutorial 29 Oct 2019: Practical conversation analysis workshop
Lecture 1 Nov 2019: Discourse analysis 

Week 10

No tutorial 5 Nov 2019: Independent study time
Submission due 8 Nov 2019: Learning journal entry on one or two research methods (1000 words, 25%)
Lecture 8 Nov 2019: Multilingualism and digital vernaculars on social media

Week 11

Tutorial 12 Nov 2019: Group discussion on emoticons and multilingual online practices 
Lecture 15 Nov 2019: Big data and research ethics revisited

Week 12

No tutorial 19 Nov 2019: Independent study time
Lecture 22 Nov 2019: Recap of methodologies and guidance on presenting your research
Submission due 25 Nov 2018: Academic posters (1 page, 30%)

Week 13

Tutorial 26 Nov 2019: Student poster presentations (20%)
Lecture 29 Nov 2019: Student poster presentations (20%), closing



Mandatory and additional readings

The following is a list of mandatory and additional readings. You are expected to complete the mandatory readings BEFORE coming to the lectures. Additional readings are optional and serve as starting points for your own literature search.

Week 1 Introduction
Mandatory reading:
Jones, Rodney, H. (2004) The problem of context in Computer Mediated Communication. In: Philip LeVine and Ron Scollon (eds.) Discourse and Technology: Multimodal Discourse Analysis. Georgetown: Georgetown University Press, 20–33.

Additional reading:
Androutsopoulos, Jannis (2006) Introduction: Sociolinguistics and Computer Mediated Communication. Journal of Sociolinguistics 10(4): 419–438.
Barton, David and Carmen Lee (2013) Language in the digital world & Ten reasons why studying the online world is crucial for understanding language. In: Language Online: Investigating Digital Texts and Practices. London: Routledge, 1–15 & 15–23.
Bolander, Brook and Miriam A. Locher (2014) Doing sociolinguistic research on computer-mediated data: A review of four methodological issues. Discourse, Context and Media 3: 14–26.

Week 2 Data collection
Mandatory reading:
Androutsopoulos, Jannis (2012) Online data collection. In Christine Mallinson, Becky Childs and Gerard van Herk (eds.) Data Collection in Sociolinguistics: Methods and Applications. London: Routledge, 236–250.

Additional reading:
Sunderland, Jane (2010) Research questions in linguistics. In: Lia Litosseliti (ed.) Research Methods in Linguistics. London: Continuum, 9–28.
Jucker Andreas H. (2009) Speech act research between armchair, field and laboratory: The case of compliments. Journal of Pragmatics 41(8): 1611–1635.
Markham, Annette and Elizabeth Buchanan, with contributions from the AOIR Ethics Working Committee (2012) Ethical decision-making and Internet research 2.0: Recommendations from the AOIR Ethics Working Committee. www.aoir.org/reports/ethics2.pdf.

Additional materials:
Application Form for Departmental Ethics Review of Undergraduate Research Project required for all empirical research. http://www.english.hku.hk/departmental_ethics_review.doc
Association of Internet Researchers Ethics. http://ethics.aoir.org/index.php?title=Main_Page.

Week 3 The qualitative research interview
Mandatory reading:
Rapley, Timothy J. (2001) The art(fulness) of open-ended interviewing: Some considerations on analysing interviews. Qualitative Research 1(3): 303–323.

Additional reading:
Atkinson, Paul and David Silverman (1997) Kundera’s immortality: The interview society and the invention of the self. Qualitative Inquiry 3(3): 304–325.
Briggs, Charles (1986) Introduction. In: Learning How to Ask: A Sociolinguistic Appraisal of the Role of the Interview in Social Science Research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1–30.
De Fina, Anna and Sabina Perrino (2011) Interviews vs. ‘natural’ contexts: A false dilemma. Discourse in Society 40(1): 1–11.
Wortham, Stanton, Katherine Mortimer, Kathy Lee, Elaine Allard and Kimberly Daniel White (2011) Interviews as interactional data. Language in Society 40(1): 39–50.

Week 4 Ethnography and participant observation
Mandatory reading:
Varis Piia (2016) Digital ethnography. In: Alexandra Georgakopoulou and Tereza Spilioti (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Language and Digital Communication. London: Routledge, 55–68.

Additional reading:
Androutsopoulos, Jannis. 2008. Potentials and limitations of discourse-centred online ethnography.Language@Internet. http://www.languageatinternet.org/articles/2008/1610/androutsopoulos.pdf.
Levon, Erez (2012) Ethnographic fieldwork. In: Christine Mallinson, Becky Childs and Gerard van Herk (eds.) Data Collection in Sociolinguistics: Methods and Applications. London: Routledge, 69–79.
Postill, John (2017) Remote ethnography: Studying culture from afar. In: Larissa Hjorth, Heather Horst, Anne Galloway and Genevieve Bell (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Digital Ethnography. London: Routledge, 61-69.

Week 5 On-campus (participant observation)
No assigned readings

Week 6 Semiotic landscapes and multimodal analysis
Mandatory reading:
Jaworski, Adam and Crispin Thurlow (2010) Introducing semiotic landscapes. In: Semiotic Landscapes: Language, Image, Space. London: Continuum, 1–40.

Additional reading:
Ben-Rafael, Eliezer, Elana Shohamy, Muhammad Hasan Amara, Nira Trumper-Hecht (2006) Linguistic Landscape as symbolic construction of the public space: The case of Israel. International Journal of Multilingualism 3(1): 7–30.
Jewitt, Carey (2009) An introduction to multimodality. In: Carey Jewitt (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis. London: Routledge, 14–27.
Jones, Rodney. H. (2005) ‘You show me yours, I’ll show you mine’: The Negotiation of shifts from textual to visual modes in computer-mediated interaction among gay men. Visual Communication 4(1): 69–92.
Machin, David and Theo van Leeuwen (2016) Sound, music and gender in mobile games. Gender and Language 10(3): 412–432.

Week 7 Reading Week
Please use Reading Week to catch up on readings you might have missed and to do your own literature research on topics you are interested in.

Week 8 Conversation analysis and transcription
Mandatory reading:
Bucholtz, Mary (2000) The politics of transcription. Journal of Pragmatics 32(10): 1439–1465.

Additional reading:
Bucholtz, Mary (2007) Variation in transcription. Discourse Studies 9(6): 784-808
Schegloff, Emmanuel A. (1997) Whose text? Whose context? Discourse and Society 8(2), pp. 165–187.
Ochs, Elinor (1979) Transcription as theory. In: Elinor Ochs and Bambi B. Schieffelin (eds.) Developmental Pragmatics. New York: Academic Press, pp. 43–72.
Wetherell, Margret (1998) Positioning and interpretative repertoires: Conversation analysis and post-structuralism in dialogue. Discourse and Society 9(3), pp. 387-412.

Week 9 Discourse analysis
Mandatory reading:
Pennycook, Alastair (1994) Incommensurable discourse? Applied Linguistics 15(2): 115–138.

Additional reading:
Androutsopoulos, Jannis (2013) Participatory culture and metalinguistic discourse: Performing and negotiating German dialects on YouTube. In: Deborah Tannen and Anna Marie Trester (eds.) Discourse 2.0. Language and New Media. Georgetown: Georgetown University Press, 47–71.
Herring, Susan C. (2004) Computer-mediated discourse analysis: An approach to researching online behaviour. In: Sasha A. Barab, Rob Kling and James H. Gray (eds.) Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning. New York: Cambridge University Press, 338–376. http://ella.slis.indiana.edu/~herring/cmda.pdf.
Jones, Rodney H. (2001) Beyond the screen: A participatory study of computer mediated communication among Hong Kong youth. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association. personal.cityu.edu.hk/~enrodney/Research/ICQPaper.pdf.

Week 10 Multilingualism and digital vernaculars on social media
Mandatory reading:
Lyons, Agnieszka and Caroline Tagg (2019) The discursive construction of chronotopes in mobile-phone messaging. Language in Society (First View): 1–27.

Additional reading:
Androutsopoulos, Jannis (2006) Multilingualism, diaspora, and the Internet: Codes and identities on German-based diaspora websites. Journal of Sociolinguistics 10(4): 520–547.
Barton, David and Carmen Lee (2013) HELLO! BONJOUR! CIAO! HOLA! GUTEN TAG! Deploying linguistic resources online. In: Language Online: Investigating Digital Texts and Practices. London: Routledge, 42–54.
Lenihan, Aoife (2011) ‘Join our community of translators’: Language ideologies and/in Facebook. In: Crispin Thurlow and Kristine Mroczek (eds.) Digital Discourse: Language in the New Media. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 48–66.

Week 11 Big data and research ethics revisited
Mandatory reading:
Pariser, Eli (2011) Introduction. In: The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You. New York: Penguin, pp. 1–20.

Additional reading:
boyd, dana (2014) It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Jones, Rodney H and Christoph A. Hafner (2012) Chapter 2 – Information everywhere. In: Understanding Digital Literacies: A Practical Introduction. London: Routledge, 19–34.

Week 12: No assigned readings
Week 13: No assigned readings

If you would like to buy a good general introduction to research methodologies online and offline, I recommend:
Page, Ruth, David Barton, Johann Wolfgang Unger and Michele Zappavigna (2014) Researching Language and Social Media: A Student Guide. London: Routledge.



Last updated: 12 July 2019