The epistemological framing of a discipline: Writing science in university oceanography

Gregory J. Kelly, Catherine Chen, William Prothero

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53 Scopus citations


The purpose of this paper is to examine how instruction in scientific writing in a university oceanography course communicated epistemological positions of this discipline. Drawing from sociological and anthropological studies of scientific communities, this study uses an ethnographic perspective to explore how teachers and students came to define particular views of disciplinary knowledge through the everyday practices associated with teaching and learning oceanography. Writing in a scientific genre was supported by interactive CD-ROM which allowed students to access data representations from geological databases. In our analysis of the spoken and written discourse of the members of this course, we identified epistemological issues such as uses of evidence, role of expertise, relevance of point of view, and limits to the authority of disciplinary inquiry. Implications for college science teaching are drawn.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)691-718
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Research in Science Teaching
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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