how detached is technical writing? Teaching interpersonality ...
BASICS ON THE PATENT GENRE The big picture Features and challenges (I) Pilar Barreiro Elorza Carmen Sancho Guinda Universidad Politcnica de Madrid Overview Concept of genre What is a patent? Community expectations Validity criteria Rhetorical moves A contrastive approach of two twin genres Goals and features of patents and research articles Food for thought: Which comes first?
Three myths about patents What is a genre? Genre = It is a type of text with a specific social purpose. It obeys a series of organisational and lexico-grammatical conventions agreed on by an academic or professional community of practice. Its structure is formed by a series of stages, called moves, which may in turn comprise substages, called steps. A genre may include several types of texts and these texts may constitute stages. For example, the methods section in a research article is a narrative of the procedures employed. Or there may be genres embedded in other genres. For instance, patents include an abstract of the invention to be evaluated. Genre is a goal-oriented type of text. This means that it
is defined by: A purpose (a common enterprise in a given community of practicee.g. engineers, researchers, students, etc.) Participants (the members of the community of practice using the genre, with their specific interests and technical background) A reproducible process (thanks to a series of conventions adopted by the community. Structurally, genres are staged texts they have stages called moves, which have in turn substages called steps) A product (the text is identifiable thanks to stable structural and lexico-grammatical features, but also flexible to evolve) Patents participants SKILLED-IN-THE-ART
PEOPLE Licensees Fellow inventors (competitors) Is the invention sufficiently described and does it meet legal requirements? Infringement people (Roberts 2007) NON-SKILLED-IN THE ART Investors Innovation analysts General public ExpertKnowledge Lay
asymmetry audience audience Patent examiners Some courts Validity people (Roberts 2007) How much does the patent cover? Role of genres in communities of practice (Wenger 1998: 73) Problem-solving (troubleshooting)
Engagement in problem-solving actions through: _ Design _Calculation _Experimentation _Projects _Consulting _Maintaining relationships Joint enterprise SENSE OF BELONGING Mutual engagement
Shared repertoire Media: _ Tools _Routines and Procedures (*) _Roles _Concepts _Discourses Terms Genres (*) Restrained persuasion (Sales 2006) Factual, info-conveying non-argumentative texts (Kirkman 1992) Scant attention to subjective, loaded expressions of evaluation (Bolinger 1980, Hunston & Thompson 2000) Dislike for adjectival intensifiers + preference for definitions,
descriptions, equations and formulae (Sales 2006) Use of long complex NPhs heavily premodified, passives and formal collocations (Sales 2006 ) What is a patent? Definition PATENT = 1. An official licence from the government granting a person or business the sole right, for a certain period, to make or sell a particular article. 2. The right so granted. 3. The invention so protected. (Chambers Giant Dictionary & Thesaurus 2007: 556)
Expectations in the academic engineering community Engineering teachers (5): Technical CV merit Legal Perhaps financially profitable Business-relevant Involves much cut n paste + slot filling! Polytechnic students (148): Genre features: descriptive, technical & legal, graphic component, clear & concise, objective/impersonal miss persuasive aim! (field, applications, descriptions drawings) (claims) (abstract, headers, bibliography)
Validity criteria Imaging system Imaging forming apparatus Colour image forming apparatus Image transfer system PRINTER VACUUM CLEANER Dust collection unit Mulcher Cleaning apparatus Cyclonic separator RAs Originality
Relevance Credibility Maximum Property Must fill some gap in the prior or background art Called inventive step in Europe Means that the purposes and applications must not be obviously inferred from previous patents or their combined or related elements FACTORS:
Length of document (cost-bound!) Discipline/topic Individual preferences Rhetorical moves May span more than one section ABSTRACT + CLAIMS Property Scope Delimitation of the invention, boundary-setting Field & Application BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
What to do with the invention and in what context Gaps in prior art BACKGROUND/PRIOR Previous related inventions (antecedents) and their gaps/flaws ART Physical & Functional Description (DETAILED) DESCRIPTION (Components and how they work) Cautionary statement Optional alternatives of fabrication and use Drawings & tables
Patent voices Heteroglossia in the patent genre Global voice (trans-national) English as lingua franca Genre structure & format (more or less homogeneous) Disciplinary voice (*) Technolects: specialised phraseologies National / cultural voice (**) National codes and regulations (e.g. US Code of Federal Regulations of Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights Consolidated Patent Rules Titles 35 and 37) Cultural rootedness of certain inventions (e.g. Santa Claus detectors) Individual voice superfluous: tolerated if not interfering with patentability a low-frequency feature but key to genre
variation! (*) Examples of related disciplinary (electromechanical) metaphors: (body, limbs, (long) life, experience, grow/growth, aging/age, fatigue, deplete, die/dead, annoy, harm, suffer, squeal, response, recover, feed, nourish, nutrient, etc.) (**) embodiment(s) as genre (global) + national metaphor (U.S. patents) Challenges No prescriptive stylistics! Self-taught genre not included in ESP manuals or textbooks (Olsen & Huckin 1990, Berkenkotter & Huckin 1995, Anderson 1998, Dudley-Evans & St. John 1998, Pickett et al 2001, Van Emden 2001, Rubens 2001, etc.) Difficult to teach as product of a writing process (rare facilitation by teachers) + collaborative writing
Minimum genre variation CLONING! Why encourage variation? / Who should? Contrast RAs vs Patents Which comes first? Invention Discovery RAs and Patents are epistemologically convergent but discursively divergent as to: ENDS, DISCOURSE COMMUNITIES and USES OF INTERTXTUALITY and their NARRATIVE CONSTRUCTION OF FUTURE ACTION Contrast RA vs. Patent DIVERGENCE DIVERGENCE
RESEARCH ARTICLE RESEARCH ARTICLE PATENT PATENT MAJOR MAJOR END END Knowledge Knowledge dissemination dissemination Commercialisation Commercialisation
COMMUNITY COMMUNITY STATUS STATUS Signpost/transition Signpost/transition Territorial demarcation Goal in itself DISCOURSE DISCOURSE COMMUNITY COMMUNITY Homogeneous: Homogeneous: experts experts
MAIN DISCURSIVE RESOURCE OVERALL ORGANISATION Citation Citation as as credibility credibility backbackup up Boosting and hedging for credibility and solidarity (modesty Inductive role) Citation Citation detrimental detrimental to to exclusivity
exclusivity Boosting and hedging for explicitness and vagueness Deductive OVERALL ORGANISATION BOOSTING/HEDGING INTERPLAY VARIATION Inductive Assertiveness/Mitigation (modesty) of claims twds credibility Disciplinary + individual Deductive Explicitness/vagueness National + disciplinary
+ individual 3 Myths about Patents Patent writing requires entirely new schemata Patents persuade only through restrained persuasion There is no room for vagueness in patent writing Thank you [email protected] s [email protected]
Pfiesteria piscicida Monster or merely misunderstood By: Erica Hudson Discovery Pfiesteria piscicida was first discovered at North Carolina State University where it was blamed for a large fish kill in 1988 (Miller and Belas 2003).
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