Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Writing Program


Brice Nordquist


Geopolitics of knowledge production;Mobility Studies;Rhetoric of health and medicine;Transnational writing studies

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Rhetoric and Composition


How do transnational flows and collaborations shape scientific research writing? What role do local language practices play in a global science context? Or how do phenomena of globalization and internationalization impact the work of scientists writing for local audiences and “with a local eye”? Through a case study drawing on memory, archival material, and interviews, this dissertation explores the language practices of a team of vaccine researchers working from a country in the global semi-periphery (Chile). Drawing on elements of mobility, activity and genre theories, this study traces the work of these scientists across space and time and shows how they contend with and resist the progressive standardization and scalification (Tsing, 2005; 2012) of knowledge making and language practices. This work’s findings show how from the early 90’s to the present time, researchers as writers faced the imposition of increasingly rigid standards in the writing of documents involved in the research activity and a progressive loss of agency in the decisions associated with research design and protocols. In other words, how “global” standards were imposed and preferred over local ones, even in matters concerning the most adequate ways to address local populations. At the same time, I show how these researchers found ways to resist standardization, using language in locally attuned ways and asserting their own standards for ethical research. I argue that an attunement to locality is critical for good and ethical scientific work, especially that dealing with human participants. This study offers interesting insights for technical writing, especially in the realm of scientific and health science communication. It also advances the understanding of transnational writing practices and writing in a global context, suggesting that more needs to be done in the ways of attending to locality in ethical and productive engagements with research across borders and contexts.


Open Access