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Le cahier de laboratoire électronique (ou la science en train de se faire). Une analyse linguistique

Abstract : New media have had a profound impact on the way scientists access, carry out and recount their research. In this paper the focus will be on the way research is presented in an Open Notebook Science project (, and more particularly in the analysis of the electronic laboratory notebook of a young American researcher in bioinformatics at Boston University. Although traditional paper laboratory notebooks have a long history in science, they have always been difficult for outsiders (such as discourse analysts) to access, as they never leave the lab and are often kept under lock and key. However, under the impetus of the Open Science movement, with its agenda of promoting transparency in science and data-sharing, a few researchers have begun to put their lab notebooks online, along with all raw and processed data, including failed experiments (so-called 'dark data'), errors, comments, and speculations. These open science notebooks thus open a window on to this unexplored side of scientific research and to previously confidential or 'private' data. In order to pinpoint the linguistic specificities of the electronic laboratory notebook, two sets of comparisons are proposed. The first part of the talk will be devoted to an inter-genre comparison. As the notebook constitutes the first written trace of the research project, a long way upstream of the research article, a comparison between the two genres is revealing. An analysis of some of the main linguistic and pragmatic features of the notebook (pronoun use, author roles, verb forms in particular), enables us to evaluate the considerable adaptation and reorganizing necessary in order transform the daily record of research into a publishable research article. The analysis brings out the very distinctive character of its linguistic features compared with those of the research article, reflecting above all the very provisional and perfectible nature of the work described in the notebook. The second part of the talk will focus on an intra-genre comparison, between the paper and the open notebook. A shift to a different medium of communication, in this case migration to the web, can also require a certain amount of adaptation. It is therefore legitimate to wonder if the features associated with laboratory notebooks are shared by both the traditional paper notebook and the electronic notebook. To what extent does the electronic notebook exploit the affordances of the new medium? Our analysis (cf. Carter-Thomas & Rowley-Jolivet 2017) suggests that although some features are common to both types of notebook, migration to the web also involves a conscious effort of rewriting in order to set up an effective interaction with a potentially far wider web readership.
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Submitted on : Thursday, November 21, 2019 - 1:35:52 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - 10:58:23 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-02374148, version 1


Shirley Carter-Thomas. Le cahier de laboratoire électronique (ou la science en train de se faire). Une analyse linguistique. Séminaire histoire des sciences, histoire du texte. Approches historiques et linguistiques à la production de textes scientifiques - Historical and linguistic approaches to the production of texts, Nov 2017, Paris, France. ⟨hal-02374148⟩



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