Complexity and indeterminacy in delineating scholarly areas. Some implications for LSP research and teaching.

  • Marita Kristiansen Norwegian Shool of Economics and Business Administration


Complexity and indeterminacy are to varying degree prominent characteristics of scholarly areas, their concepts and terminology. The article addresses the challenge of how to delineate a scholarly area and how to deal with this vagueness when trying to delineate the area. The scope of LSP has developed greatly since the beginning of the 20th century, from mainly focusing on the terminology of natural science and technology, to also including analyses of scholarly areas belonging to for instance the social sciences, not only with focus on their terminology, but also on textual qualities and discourse features of a given scholary area. The article discusses the fact that social sciences have a higher degree of complexity and indeterminacy than the natural sciences, which is one obvious reason for the increase in LSP contributions in recent years which call for theoretical and methodological adaptations in both LSP research and teaching. The article presents a survey of several such theoretical contributions and also some recent case studies which may offer possible solutions to this methodological challenge. The article is based on a trial lecture presented as part of the public defence for the doctoral degree ( on 14 April 2005 at the University of Bergen.