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Discourse Analysis: MIS Steering Committee Minutes of Meeting

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The document used for the discourse analysis is a minutes of meeting of the MIS Steering Committee of a certain university. Due to the confidentiality of the document, the name of the University and officers in the meeting were purposely removed. The University MIS Steering Committee is an Ad hoc committee composed of a select group of University officials that provide advisory functions for the Chairman, to whom decision making is centralized regarding matters of information and communications technology (ICT).  Because ICT matters involve high investment, it requires prudent strategic planning by seeking advantages aggressively while managing costs and risks meticulously.   A minutes of meeting is a protocol documentation that records a meeting or a hearing.  A secretariat or assigned member of the committee records and prepares the proceedings of the meeting, which is attested by the head of the committee. Copies of the minutes are then distributed for the information and compliance of the agreements made by the attendees of the meeting.


Overall Presentation of Text: The document follows a particular format in terms of presentation as prescribed by the company.  All official documents of the company must contain a seal or logo. In the case of the minutes, the seal was intentionally removed but was represented by the circle at the top center of the first page.  This is followed by a heading which includes the name of the company, the committee name, the title of the document, and the place and date of meeting.   The document is composed of three major sections namely: Attendance, Highlights and Adjournment.  The first section contains the names of committee members who are present or absent in the meeting as well as other special guests invited as resources for the meeting. It also indicates the time the meeting started and the presiding officer, which is often the committee head. In case the presiding officer is absent, reason for his absence is indicated in this section.   The second section of the document is the highlights of the meeting, which basically contains the meat of the document.

 It is further subcategorized to the following: approval of the previous minutes, business arising from the previous minutes, minutes arising from the agenda and other matters.  Apart from the roll call, meetings often start by going over previous discussions by reviewing the minutes of the previous meeting.  Any issues or unfinished business that is raised are placed under “business arising from previous minutes”.  On the other hand, discussions of actual agenda to which the present meeting is actually called for is included in the “minutes arising from the agenda” while other topics discussed that are not part of the agenda are placed in “Other matters”.    Every after the recorded discussion of a topic, a subheading “actions agreed upon” highlights the resolution, agreements or decision made by the chairman about the topic. This is critical to delineate that “instruction or decision” of the chairman from the mere opinion contained in the discussions. Finally, the last section is the adjournment which contained the time the meeting terminated. This is followed by person who prepared the document and attestation of the officer whose signature makes the document official.

Audience: The primary and sole audience of the document is the members of the committee who are officers of the company, which makes the document confidential.  The committee members provide advises and recommendations for the chairman who makes the final decision unless the chairman requires a committee consensus regarding an issue. The officers’ expertise and jurisdiction are considered in the selection for membership of the committee.  The VP for IT, MISD Director and Dean of the CCSS (College of Computer Science and System) were apparently included as resources with regards to IT matters.  While certain issues that involve the coordination and expertise of other members are referred by the chairman to other committee members for further investigation and analysis. For instance, the VP for Academic Affairs was assigned to study the proposal to use the OMR scanner to be used for the entrance test, and other examinations because it involves academic affairs.  The composition of the audience is primarily from selected top management officials who make critical decision making for the company.

Purpose: The purpose of the minutes is to provide an official documentation or record of the decisions of the committee as well as the deliberations that occurred to come up with such decision. In formal organizations, documentations are used to make communications official, authoritative and binding.  (Mancuso, p 83) By making statements of officers authentic and official, this makes them accountable for the information.  Hence, the minutes of meeting clearly structures its statements as to who stated and what was stated.  It does not have to be engaging. Moreover, resolutions to the issues specifically contained in the “actions agreed upon”, practically summarize the action to be done by the committee or specified members.  As such, the document also contained the decisions and instructions of the Chairman on IT matters for the compliance of those concerned or that which can serve as guidelines for policy making e.g. “The Deans shall be accountable to all actions involving the academe including erroneous academic information in the data system”.

Persona. As an official documentation, the persona of the document is very formal as reflected by the organization of its presentation, the structure of its sentences and content of the discussion.  Unlike the real proceedings of the meeting which is conversational and casual, official documents need to be formal to reflect seriousness and genuineness. In some instances, such documents are used for administrative and legal proceedings.  Moreover, since the document contained the decision and instructions (i.e. actions agreed upon) of the Chairman, its persona is also authoritative and instructional.   It commands people straightforwardly on exactly what to do or not what to do and does so with firm and imposing pronouncement.

Thesis.  The thesis of this document is the main idea of the document, which involves the integration of the purpose, audience and persona.  This practically includes the topics discussed in the meeting including the availability of the Instructional server, the data center and faculty training, implementing guidelines for the academic information system, the purchase of OMR scanner and the request and need for software licenses, among others.  Focus however is maintained on the issues discussed in the proceedings of the meeting.  Details of a report for instance are not included because they are already contained in a separate report that had been furnished earlier to individual members.

For instance, in the statement “The VP for IT informed that the instructional server is now at the Data Center ready to be used for the on-line education”, no other details about the instructional server was made because they are already contained in a separate report. Exhaustively including the discussion about the instructional server as to what it is, its contents, technicalities, etc. will only be redundant and will only lengthen the minutes.  Moreover, discussions that are not pertinent, superfluous or have no direct bearing to the point of contention are discarded or removed.  Thus, drafts are prepared first for the evaluation of the committee head before the document is finalized to ensure that only those that are directly related and important to that meeting is included.

Moreover, as a documentation of a meeting, the minutes adequately and sufficiently included all important elements to be included in the meeting such as the details of the meeting (i.e. attendees, time and place), the discussion or discourse of the participants and the resolutions adopted, among others. The content of the document is clear, appropriate and adequate to meet the needs of the committee members and the company in general.

Elements of Style:  Aside from its organization, the statements in the minutes are also structured to be formal by making them direct, simple and concise. As a documentation of the proceedings, the focus of the content is to accurately report who and what was said hence the exact words of the members are often used via a transcription. (Evans, p238)  However, grammatical errors are already rectified and oftentimes, the statements of the members are restructured to make it clearer and shorter.

Statements are factual and are prevented from being embellished with decorative or illustrative words that can cause a gain or loss of meaning or can be subjected to misinterpretations. For instance, the statement, “the president cited erroneous academic information” was simply used instead of “the president angrily and disappointedly cited erroneous academic information.”  The contents of statement simply highlights on facts to maintain objectivity in the discussions. They are explanatory but not emotionally expressive. As a meeting on information technology, it is inevitable that the document contains some technical words.  Technical jargon however is limited considering that majority of the members are non technical people. The focus instead is on management and decision making. As such, the contents of the document are not scholarly, investigative nor journalistic.  They are neutral and objective with the end of purpose of making decisions.


Formal organizations require formal communications by documentation or by putting them in formal writing avenues such as memoranda, circulars and minutes of meeting which signed by authorized personnel to make them official, legitimate, and binding.  Formal documents like the minutes of meeting usually follow a prescribed format by the company. Their written form serves as “hard evidence” about a certain information or message.  As a formal communication, they follow protocols and lines of authorities.  They serve as formal internal correspondence in a company and are used as a standard form for the communication needs between departments, employees and officers in a formal organization.


Evans, Desmond W. People, communication, and organizations. Pitman Polytech. Cornell University: 1986

Mancuso, Anthony. Your Limited Liability Company: An Operating Manual. Nolo Publications: 2007

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