ERIC Number: ED265532
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1985-Mar
Protocols, Retrospective Reports, and the Stream of Consciousness. CDC Technical Report No. 8.
Steinberg, Erwin R.
Noting that recent issues of several scholarly journals have contained criticism of protocol analysis and the use of verbal reports in the analysis of the writing process, this paper examines some of the charges made and then explores the implications of the criticisms. Specific charges addressed in the paper include the following: (1) protocols and the transcripts that represent them seriously falsify what is happening in the mind of the writer giving the protocol; (2) protocols are works of fiction; (3) cognitive processes are not visible enough to be examined scientifically; (4) the presence of the person arranging for the protocol and of the tape recorder, as well as the nature of the protocol session, distort the cognitive processes of the writer; and (5) protocol analysis was rejected as unscientific by psychologists many years ago. After making the case that a closer look at one particular criticism shows how it indicates a misunderstanding by the critics of the true nature of protocol analysis, the paper cites works by cognitive psychologists and others who have examined the writing process from this perspective to demonstrate how valuable protocol analysis and similar techniques can be. Finally, the paper deals with the question of whether protocol analysis is scientific and with the inconsistencies present in many criticisms of the technique. (FL)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Carnegie-Mellon Univ., Pittsburgh, PA. Communications Design Center.