Research Approaches: Micro, Median and Macro

A significant innovative feature of the methodology I describe is that it sits at a medial level of data description that is uncommon in language research. By this I mean that my methodology is situated in between the decontextualised, large-corpus approach characteristic of Corpus Linguistics and the highly detailed analysis of one or a few texts which characterises much discourse analysis. This middle-level approach is apparent in both data selection and data analysis. I largely worked with three data sets of 20 texts, this number falling between the norms for Corpus Linguistic and close text analysis studies mentioned above. My analysis approach combined semi-quantitative counting methods with depth analysis of particular texts and text extracts in order to investigate and contextualise the findings suggested by frequency counting. This medial level of investigation has several advantages for research questions that are broad in scope. It allows the researcher to construct reasonably robust “maps” of language patterns through the analysis of frequencies of language-feature occurrence, without the loss of rich contextual detail. The approach is effective both to confirm that the patterns of language features proposed are indeed consistently present (the usual province of Corpus Linguistics) and to describe what these features “look like” in the context of the news media genres in which they appear.

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