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John Gallagher

Associate Professor


Writing moves and circulates in our world. With the ubiquity of digital mediation, audiences are now inherently participatory. As a consequence, what writers do after they publish matters as much as what they do before they publish.  This circulation, and how it shapes writing processes, is what I study.

For example, academic researchers often use social media to promote their publications. Knowing that their work will appear on social media has an observable effect on what they will write and how they frame their research.

My research consequently reframes social media users, engineers, and scientists as writers, thereby stressing the composing practices of these contexts. This perspective also allows me to apply writing theory to digital artifacts and computational processes. To study circulation in this way, I typically combine qualitative research (interviewing, observations) with quantitative audience metrics and statistics.

Research Interests

I study ways writers contend with participatory audiences in the context networked technologies (e.g., social media). I specialize in qualitative research methods; in particular, case study methodologies. I also draw on quantitative methods, such as web-scraping and computational analysis, to study online comments and participatory audiences. I have recently begun exploring machine learning, including using it as a method to study social media writing as well as studying how scientists and researchers communicate about machine learning. 

Courses Taught

  • BTW 250
  • BTW 490
  • ENGL 582
  • ENGL 380
  • ENGL 482

Additional Campus Affiliations

Associate Professor, English

Highlighted Publications

Gallagher, J. R. (2020). Update Culture and the Afterlife of Digital Writing. Utah State University Press.

Gallagher, J. R., & DeVoss, D. N. (Eds.) (2019). Explanation Points: Publishing in Rhetoric and Composition. Utah State University Press.

View all publications on Illinois Experts

Recent Publications

Gallagher, J. R., & Wagner, K. (2024). Comparing Student and Writing Instructor Perceptions of Academic Dishonesty When Collaborators Are Artificial Intelligence or Human. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 38(3), 266-288.

Gallagher, J. R., & Avgoustopoulos, R. E. (2024). Emojination Facilitates Inclusive Emoji Design Through Technical Writing: Fitting Tactical Technical Communication Inside Institutional Structures. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 54(1), 93-112.

Gallagher, J. R., Wang, H., Modaff, M., Liu, J., Xu, Y., & Beveridge, A. (2023). Analyses of seven writing studies journals, 2000–2019, Part I: Statistical trends in references cited and lexical diversity. Computers and Composition, 67, Article 102755.

Gallagher, J. R., Wang, H., Modaff, M., Liu, J., & Xu, Y. (2023). Analyses of seven writing studies journals, 2000–2019, Part II: Data-driven identification of keywords. Computers and Composition, 67, Article 102756.

Gallagher, J. R., Wysocka, A., & Holmes, S. (2023). Required Templates: An Assemblage Theory Analysis of How Template Character Limits Influence the Writing of DIY Online Grant Proposals. Technical Communication Quarterly, 32(1), 50-62.

View all publications on Illinois Experts