Journal of Second Language Writing

The First Five Years

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The First Five Years of the JSLW: A Retrospective

Paul Kei Matsuda

Since the Journal of Second Language Writing has completed its fifth year of publication, it seems appropriate to look back over where it has been. Established in 1992, the JSLW has been dedicated to publishing "theoretically grounded reports of research and discussion of central issues in second and foreign language writing and writing instruction." In the first five years of its existence, 15 issues of the JSLW printed 61 scholarly articles written by 93 authors from seven different countries. (A few authors have contributed more than once.) Beginning in the second year of publication, the JSLW has also presented three exchanges of opinions in the Dialogue section and a series of annotated bibliographies of scholarship in L2 writing. Perhaps the characteristics of the journal can be best described by looking at the types of articles that have been featured.

Contributions to the JSLW have been interdisciplinary, incorporating insights from various related disciplines, including--but not limited to--second language studies and composition studies, which are themselves highly interdisciplinary. The contributors have addressed a wide range of L2 writing issues from various methodological perspectives--from quantitative descriptive studies and qualitative ethnographic studies to theoretical and critical inquiry. Some of the issues that have been discussed in the Journal include: assessment, audience, computer assisted instruction, contrastive rhetoric, English for academic purposes, genre, ideology and politics, international teaching assistants, journal writing, L2 writing processes, literacies, literature, peer groups, placement, speaking and writing, teacher feedback, translation, and writing prompts.

Although the JSLW is concerned with L2 writing issues in all languages, the vast majority of articles have focused on English as a second/foreign language. So far, only two articles have dealt with teaching L2 writing in Japanese, and one with L2 writing in French.

The contributions also represented a variety of departmental affiliations. While approximately 40% of the authors were affiliated with English departments--which may be defined differently from one institution to another--many also represented applied linguistics/TESOL departments.

The contributors came not only from institutions within the United States and Puerto Rico but also from five other countries, suggesting an increasingly international scope for the journal. The countries represented in the journal include Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Africa. The most frequent sources of contributions outside of the United States have been Canada, Hong Kong, and Japan. Because of the international flow of scholars in the field, however, authors' countries of origin often do not coincide with their institutional affiliations.

Within the Untied States, articles have originated in 21 states with California, Michigan, Georgia, and Wyoming being the most visible. Other states include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington.

Scholarship in L2 writing as represented in the JSLW has often been collaborative. While the majority of the articles (56%) were written by a single author, many (39%) were also co-authored by two people. Two were written by three authors, and one article by a team of six people. In terms of academic rank, most contributors, at the time of publication of their articles, were associate professor (28%) or assistant professor (25%), and less than 10% were identified as full professors. Others were lecturers and instructors in TESL graduate programs as well as in English language programs. A few indicated holding administrative positions within their departments. Three of the contributors of co-authored articles were graduate students. Most of the contributors have been female (76%), which seems to reflect the general trend of the language teaching profession.

Publication Information

Matsuda, P. K. (1997). The first five years of the JSLW: A retrospective. Journal of Second Language Writing, 6(2), iv-v.

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