Guarding the gate politically and politely: How accreditation teams do facework while gatekeeping

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Accreditation is a quality assurance mechanism which evaluates either the capability of an institution to offer an academic program or the quality of an academic program before its launch. Accredited institutions and programs are allowed to enroll students, both fee-paying and non-fee-paying. The outcome of an accreditation exercise will therefore have significant implications for an institution's reputation and finance. Institutions are normally informed of the outcome through an accreditation report, a genre whose discourse is intrinsically interesting and important, and thus deserves fuller research attention, for two reasons: (1) the genre contains evaluations and comments which can be negative and face-threatening, and (2) the accreditation team, as we can safely assume, will do facework subsequent to the performance of face threats through the negative evaluations and comments. The present study seeks to gain a better understanding of the lexicogrammar of this genre in general, and the lexicogrammar used to textualize facework in particular by analyzing the discourse of 30 accreditation reports in an Australian context. This paper argues that the evaluative language used in this genre can serve to perform facework for both the institution being accredited and the accreditation team itself, and have important implications for both the workplace and classroom.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-60
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Politeness Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • accreditation
  • evaluation
  • face
  • facework
  • politeness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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