LINGUIST List 6.1681

Thu Nov 30 1995

Sum: E-mail Communication

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  1. Helmut Gruber, Sum: e-mail communication

Message 1: Sum: e-mail communication

Date: Wed, 29 Nov 1995 10:12:38 Sum: e-mail communication
From: Helmut Gruber <HELMUTling.univie.ac.at>
Subject: Sum: e-mail communication

Dear LINGUIST-Subscribers,

Some time ago I posted several questions concerning the use of e- mail
discussion lists in the academic world on the LINGUIST-List and the
ETHNO-hotline. 37 Individuals returned their answers to me, I am
thankful to all of them. Special thanks to those who provided
references of investigations, articles, and books on e-mail
communication. In the following I provide a summary in the form of a
frequency table. I tried to find response categories for all questions
which cover as many details of the received answers as possible. As
most of the responders provided more than a single answer to questions
2-7, relative frequency counts in the right column are based on the
total number of answers to the single questions rather than on the
number of responders. Those of you who are interested in the seminar
papers (or English abstracts) on several dicsourse- analytic aspects
of e-mail communication should contact me personally (but please
notice that the papers will not be available before the end of
february).

1. How many hotlines/ discussion lists do you subscribe to?
0: 1 2,7%
1: 3 8,11%
2: 8 21,62%
3: 5 13,51%
4: 8 21,62%
5: 3 8,11%
6-9: 5 13,51%
10-20: 4 10,81%
Total: 37 100,00%

2. Do you regularely follow the discussions on these hotlines?
- yes: 25 60,98%
- sometimes: 3 7,32%
- if time permits: 1 2,44%
- only if relevant for
own research/ interests: 6 14,63%
- only checking subjects: 3 7,32%
- no: 3 7,32%
Total: 41 100,00%

3. Do you actively participate in hotline discussions?
- yes: 6 15,38%
- sometimes: 16 41,03%
- if time permits: 3 7,69%
- only if relevant for
own research/ interests: 3 7,69%
- I send individual
responses to list-postings: 2 5,13%
- no: 9 23,08%
Total: 39 100,00%

4. What are the main purposes of hotlines/ discussions lists in
your opinion?
- providing new ideas: 5 8,06%
- information about jobs/
conferences/call for
papers/recent
publications: 12 19,35%
- information on
actual problems
in linguistic subfields,
discussion of theoretical/
methodological problems: 25 40,32%
- possibility of posting
questions and receiving
help: 1 1,61%
- getting into contact
with people you wouldn't
know otherwise: 15 24,19%
- provide feedback: 2 3,32%
- fun: 2 3,32%
Total: 62 100,00%

5. Were there e-mail discussions which directly influenced your own
scientific work (e.g. by stimulating you to deal with a certain
topic, or by giving you new ideas on a problem etc.)?
- yes: 19 44,18%
- used them in class: 5 11,63%
- provided references etc.: 6 13,95%
- rarely: 4 9,30%
- no: 9 20,93%
Total: 43 100,00%

6. What are the main advantages/ disadvantages of hotlines/
discussion lists?
- Advantages:
- possibility of quick
access to information/
"up-to-datedness": 18 25,00%
- possibility of "trying
out" new ideas: 3 4,16%
- getting references: 5 6,94%
- fast replies: 6 8,33%
- informality: 6 8,33%
- wide range of topics: 2 2,77%
- short contributions: 2 2,77%
- world wide
information source: 6 8,33%
- information about
jobs/ conferences: 2 2,77%
- possibility to find
interesting people for
(personal)correspondence: 20 27,77%
- allows individual
choice of information: 2 2,77%
Total: 72 100,00%

- Disadvantages:
- possibility of getting
no answer: 1 2,82%
- properties/ limitations
of mailer programs: 2 5,71%
- too much irrelevant
information/ repetition
of topics/too time
comsuming if you try
to read all messages: 18 51,43%
- too long contributions: 1 2,82%
- premature, theoretically
unreflected contributions: 5 14,29%
- "American bias"
(language barriers): 1 2,82%
- language and/ or
technological problems
(unequal access to computer
technology): 3 8,57%
- biased group of
responders: 1 2,82%
- unclear status of
e-mail communication*: 4 11,43%
Total: 35 100,00%

* refers to priority questions which may arise if someone picks up
ideas without quoting the source and the fact that contributions to
e-mail lists do not influence the evaluation of academic carriers.

7. Do you think that e-mail discussions may replace some
"traditional" form of scholarly discourse?
- yes: 6 12,24%
- newsletters: 2 4,08%
- working papers: 1 2,04%
- journals: 1 2,04%
- bulletins: 1 2,04%
- abstracts: 1 2,04%
- book reviews: 1 2,04%
- sub-journal publications: 1 2,04%
- presentation of
work in progress: 1 2,04%
- information about
conferences (circulars): 1 2,04%
- telephone calls/
snail-mail: 6 12,24%
- informal workplace/
conference communication: 3 6,12%
- complementary to
"traditional" communication/
new form of discourse: 12 24,49%
- can't replace traditional
forms like books, journals,
conferences: 5 10,20%
- maybe: 3 6,12%
- no: 4 8,16%
Total: 49 100,00%

Best regards,
Helmut Gruber

Dept. of Linguistics
University of Vienna
Berggasse 11
A-1090 Vienna
Austria, Europe
tel.: +43/1/310 38 86/38
fax.: +43/1/310 38 86/23
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