Genre Innovations in Dissertation Writing: Trends and Recommendations for Rhetoric and Composition Graduate Programs


Concomitant with calls from scholars to pluralize academic writing to reflect diverse social realities (Canagarajah, 2013; Dryer et al., 2014; Horner, 2011; Martinez, 2020; Palmeri, 2007; Weisser, 2002) and with advocacy efforts by industry specialists to make dissertation writing more in tune with a rapidly changing professional world (Futures Initiative, 2014; Porter et al, 2018), several Rhetoric and Composition graduate students have been creating innovative dissertations. However, research on graduate-level dissertation writing programs shows that genre innovation is not explicitly taught in such programmes (Autry and Carter, 2015; Baillargeon, 2020; Habib et al., 2020; Sundstrom, 2014). To assist graduate programme directors and instructors in responding to calls to transform dissertation writing by creating curricular reforms, data on the type of dissertations considered to be innovative by disciplinary members would be helpful. Welch et al. (2002) conducted the last such survey but more recent surveys are required. In this paper, I present results from a study where I collected (n = 21) Rhetoric and Composition dissertations written between 2000-2020 that are considered to be innovative by disciplinary members. Findings show that narrative discourses (76%) and multimodal artifacts (62%) are the two biggest types of innovation in this dataset, while translingualism (9%) does not make a prominent presence. The discussion section contextualizes these findings and provides recommendations for graduate program directors as well as researchers.


genre innovation, genre analysis, dissertation-writing, doctoral thesis, Rhetorical Genre Studies (RGS)

How to Cite

Gupta, A., (2023) “Genre Innovations in Dissertation Writing: Trends and Recommendations for Rhetoric and Composition Graduate Programs”, Journal of Second Language Acquisition and Teaching 29.







Anuj Gupta (University of Arizona)





Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

Peer Review

This article has been peer reviewed.

File Checksums (MD5)

  • PDF: 23cc8a49abaab50ea666e9ed4fc8e274