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Differences Over Discourse Structure Differences: A Reply to Urquhart and Urquhart
Journal of Documentation
  • Jennie A Abrahamson, Western University
  • Victoria L Rubin, Western University
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DOI:10.1108/JD-02- 2014-0037
Purpose – In this paper we respond to Urquhart and Urquhart’s critique of our previous work entitled “Discourse structure differences in lay and professional health communication”, published in this journal in 2012 (Vol. 68 No. 6, pp.826 – 851, doi: 10.1108/00220411211277064). Design/methodology/approach – We examine Urquhart and Urquhart’s critique and provide responses to their concerns and cautionary remarks against cross-disciplinary contributions. We reiterate our central claim. Findings – We argue that Mann and Thompson’s (1987, 1988) Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST) offers valuable insights into computer-mediated health communication and deserves further discussion of its methodological strength and weaknesses for application in LIS. Research limitations/implications – While we agree that some methodological limitations pointed out by Urquhart and Urquhart are valid, we take this opportunity to correct certain misunderstandings and misstatements. Originality/value – We argue for continued use of innovative techniques borrowed from neighboring disciplines, in spite of objections from the researchers accustomed to a familiar strand of literature. We encourage researchers to consider RST and other computational linguistics-based discourse analysis annotation frameworks that could provide the basis for integrated research, and eventual applications in information behaviour and information retrieval.


Abrahamson, J.A. and Rubin, V.L. (2015) Differences Over Discourse Structure Differences: A Reply to Urquhart and Urquhart, Journal of Documentation. Vol. 71(Iss: 2): pp.224 - 232. DOI:10.1108/JD-02- 2014-0037

Citation Information
Jennie A Abrahamson and Victoria L Rubin. "Differences Over Discourse Structure Differences: A Reply to Urquhart and Urquhart" Journal of Documentation Vol. 71 Iss. 2 (2015) p. 1 - 8
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