Exploring Academic Voice in Multimodal Quantitative Texts

Robert Prince
Arlene Archer


Research on students’ academic literacies practices has tended to focus on the written mode in order to understand the academic conventions necessary to access Higher Education. However, the representation of quantitative information can be a challenge to many students. Quantitative information can be represented through a range of modes (such as writing, visuals and numbers) and different information graphics (such as tables, charts, graphs). This paper focuses on the semiotic aspects of graphic representation in academic work, using student and published data from the Health Science, and an information graphic from the social domain as a counterpoint to explore aspects about agency and choice in academic voice in multimodal texts. It explores voice in terms of three aspects which work across modes, namely authorial engagement, citation and modality. The work of different modes and their inter-relations in quantitative texts is established, as is the use of sources in citation. We also look at the ways in which credibility and validity are established through modality. This exploration reveals that there is a complex interplay of modes in the construction of academic voice, which are largely tacit. This has implications for the way we think about and teach writing and text-making in quantitative disciplines in Higher Education.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5130/lns.v22i1.4178

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