Let’s consider for example the reflective practice of writing. Writing plays a key role in most domains of human endeavor. Through writing, we build up social networks, develop projects, inform colleagues and customers, and generate the basis for decisions. The quality of writing is often decisive for social resonance and professional success. Nevertheless, we still lack crucial knowledge about writing processes, knowledge that would form the basis of systematic writing education in pedagogic, academic, and professional settings.

The methodology for a rigorous, objectively verifiable analysis of the structure of writing processes and therefore for an empirically testable explanation of the nature and interplay of strategies, practices, and routines in writing processes has not yet been developed. This is exactly what my research projects aim to do: to explore and to model writing processes based on in-depth case studies and statistical methodology and thus to provide a solid foundation for good-practice models of writing processes – a precondition for systematic education in writing.

The heart of these research projects is Progression Analysis (PA). With PA, writing processes in natural settings such as newsrooms can be investigated easily. PA collects, analyses and triangulates data from three levels of text production: before writing begins, interviews and participatory observation capture the work situation; during writing, computer-aided observation records the writing movements as traces of writing practices; after writing, cue-based retrospective verbal protocols allow the repertoire of writing strategies and conscious practices to be deduced.

Of course I write a lot myself, with pain and pleasure: easy books, heavy papers, and sometimes just a few lines … >>

Photography © Moritz Hager Zürich