Transcribing the DALN: Part IV

Unveiling the “Best Kept Secret” for Rhetoric and Composition Researchers

By: Lydia Meredith 

Wouldn’t you know! I discovered pertinent research sources in my own “academic” backyard – The Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN). Whether by serendipity or by course mandate, my professor of Rhetoric and Composition 8125: Writing and Research Methodology includes a (heavily grade-weighted) transcription assignment. My first response: how will this assignment be relevant? I start to scroll through the DALN database, searching for something of interest to transcribe. Then I run across a topic related to my research. My subsequent response: “OMG!”

Most graduate rhetoric and composition students are unaware of the research opportunities available at the DALN – how this database archives information on obscure and diverse topics. A constant challenge researchers experience is finding “credible, current, complete, and connected evidence” that supports research topics” (The Georgia State University Guide to First-Year Writing Textbook, 7th Edition). I never imagined I would find “coming out stories” that would enhance and strengthen my LGBTQ+ stigma study in such a place as the DALN.

Getting approval from institutional review boards (IRBs) for research requiring human subjects is rigorous and often denied. The IRB process is often untimely; ergo, obtaining primary research though creditable and reliable becomes problematic for researchers.

Using case studies for qualitative research is part of my research plan. Unfortunately, hand-picking human subjects to participate in research creates a bias to overcome. However, finding a random interview or monologue from an independent database curated without subject bias eliminates that research concern.

When I finally received IRB approval for my study, and after conducting seven (7) in-person interviews on my research topic, I found that the stories I stumbled across on my subject at the DALN validated my research – a researcher’s delight!

As vast as the ocean are the lived experiences of students entering academia. Universities enroll students from diverse social, economic, political, national, and international backgrounds.  These students bring awareness of their family life, communities, social and political environments – covering an array of subjects – education, government, business, and personal domains – and how these domains impact their lives. The literacy narratives of higher education learners are sources of nuanced subject evidence not easily found in volumes of secondary research materials. Higher education learners bring their worlds to the academic community. And they share these worlds through stories – text and multimodal communications. The DALN serves as a conduit for sharing and recording these experiences – creating a mammoth resource for researchers looking for first-hand accounts: evidence from the horse’s mouth. These are the things you can find using the DALN – a primary research taxonomy of data across life’s domains. The DALN is the best kept secret to rhetoric and composition researchers. The DALN is open and accessible worldwide, drawn from global literacy experiences, so take a peek. You will be glad you did.

Author Bio: Lydia Meredith is a Ph.D. candidate in English: Rhetoric and Composition Department at Georgia State University (GSU), Atlanta, GA campus.  She is a Graduate Teaching Assistant for English 1101 and 1102; and a Graduate Research Assistant Program Manager at the GSU Center for the Studies of Africa and Its Diaspora. In addition, Lydia Meredith is an activist for LGBTQ+ justice and author (The Gay Preacher’s Wife: How My Gay Husband Deconstructed My Life and Reconstructed My Faith, published by Simon and Schuster, October 2016).