chapter  5
Most important articles and books in AL
Pages 7

Communication in a discipline takes place mainly through books and journal articles. Themes develop through interactions in various forms of publication. We may assume that for each discipline there are publications that are seen as core by a significant proportion of the researchers involved. In this chapter, I want to look at the most important articles and books to see what that core is for AL as a discipline. The two questions in the questionnaire were formulated as follows:

“What are the 5-10 most important articles/book chapters for you over these 30 years?” and “What are the 5-10 most important books for you over these 30 years?” Almost all informants complained that this is a very difficult task, and

several of them gave up on this, mentioning “too many to list”. They also asked whether the publications should be the ones that were

important for themselves or for the field as a whole. Interpretations differed; some informants clearly chose the publications that had been important for them, others listed publications that defined the field in their view. Since there is no objective way to find out what the informants had in mind while listing publications, it was decided to pull all the publications together. Precision in referencing is not the most pronounced characteristic of my

informants. Many left articles underspecified with respect to volume or pages, or even wrong information. For instance, Bley-Vroman’s article in Language Learning was mentioned four times, but each time with a different year of publication (1981, 1982, 1983 and 1984). Similarly, the Firth and Wagner article in The Modern Language Journal was reported as published in a range of years.