10. Concluding Comments

It is worth revisiting the two reasons we had for writing this paper. One is to help those who approach DA enthusiastically, but in an environment where there is less support than there would be for more traditional methods of analysis, and so less opportunity to test and refine methods among sympathetic colleagues. The other is to scotch the sort of errors that give comfort to the traditionally-minded who accuse DA of 'anything goes'.

We hope we have shown the difference between something that is discourse analysis - of whatever sort -and something that is not. Writers are not doing analysis if they summarise, if they take sides, if they parade quotes, or if they simply spot in their data features of talk or text that are already well-known. Nor are they doing analysis if their discovery of discourses, or mental constructs, is circular, or if they unconsciously treat their findings as surveys.

We should be at pains to say that we do not think that identifying these inadequacies tends positively toward any one particular level or style of discourse analysis. What it does is show up how some ways of writing have the sheen of analysis without its substance. We have deliberately stopped short of saying what does count as analysis, because of the variety of directions in which analysis can go, and because much more has been written on this elsewhere. Perhaps it is safe to say that analysis means a close engagement with one's text or transcripts, and the illumination of their meaning and significance through insightful and technically sophisticated work. In a word, Discourse Analysis means Doing Analysis.

Previous Section Top Next Section