A Deep Look at the Discourse Community of Drilling

(913 Words)

Author’s Note:

Below is an informal report using a memo format written for the Communications 202 course at Fleming College. We are analysing discourse communities that are related to our program of study. Analysis is done under the presumption that we are already active members of this discourse community and the community is assessed according to the requirements laid out by John Swales. As a 2nd semester student in the Resource Drilling Technician program, I’ve written about the drilling community at large.

To:   Comm 202 
From: D.A. Mills 
Date: February 09, 2020 
Re:   Discourse Community Analysis of Drillers 


In 2019 I took the first tentative step to enter the drilling community by enrolling in the Resource Drilling Technician program at Fleming College. This report should serve to help newcomers to the drilling discourse community. Topics will include the community’s history, lexicon, methods of communication and more. Using John Swales’ Six Characteristics of Discourse (COMM202, 2020) to examine the community and research to provide examples of specific Drilling Discourse communities, newcomers will gain knowledge and insight about the community. I will conclude with several recommendations on how to join the drilling community. 


Because of drilling’s long history and application around the globe, over time drilling has developed several particular communities which focus on individual aspects which allow the professionals to work, learn, and communicate.

The professionals working in the drilling community typically have duties involving one or more of the 4 main branches of drilling. These are Environmental Drilling, Geotechnical Drilling, Resource Drilling and Water-well Drilling. Geotechnical Drilling: done before any construction occurs to obtain information about soil conditions and ensure the safety and stability of buildings and tunnels (GEOL16, 2020). Environmental Drilling: Used both before and after there are any environmental concerns. This type of drilling is “performed when soil or groundwater samples are required in order to assess an area for contamination, or when groundwater monitoring wells or remediation wells are required for the treatment of groundwater” (Hinterland Drilling, 2020). Resource Drilling: Done to obtain any resources of economic value, such as metals or oil. Water-well Drilling: Used to gain access to groundwater sources anytime there is a need for potable water. A form of drilling known as Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) is also commonly used in resource drilling, geotechnical drilling and the installation of utilities. It is due to this diversity of work and the promise of high pay that drew me into the drilling community. 

In the drilling community, experience and results trump any paper credentials. So while formal education is more of an asset rather than a requirement, it is certainly held in high regard. A great example of formal education would be Fleming College’s Resource Drilling Technician diploma program (Fleming College, 2020). They also detail several auxiliary courses seen as valuable within the drilling community. Those courses include Transportation of Dangerous Goods, First Aid, Working at Heights, Shielded Metal Arc Welding, H2S and a DZ License.

Research and Analysis 

Over time, drillers in all areas have gained a reputation for working in all manner of severe weather and unsafe conditions, working long hours and being copiously productive with their labour. A lesser known trait of high importance among drillers is the ability to communicate effectively. Safety being chief among a drillers concerns, the Australian Drilling Industry Training Committee (ADITC, 2015) specially emphasises drillers “must be able to communicate effectively with geologists, engineers, consultants, landholders, and all others involved in a drilling project, so that it can be completed in the most efficient and economical manner”. 

John Swales: Six Characteristics of Discourse Communities
Art by D.A. Mills
Art of John Swales’ Six Characteristics of Discourse Communities: D.A. Mills

In John Swales: Six Characteristics of Discourse Communities (COMM202, 2020), John Swales lays out the required characteristics for a discourse community to proliferate and function. All 6 of these characteristics can be seen within the drilling community. There is a broadly agreed set of common public goals, mechanisms of intercommunication among their members, participatory mechanisms to provide information and an acquired specific lexis.

All drillers share the common goal of providing efficient service while maintaining safety. We wear regulated Personal Protective Equipment. These include, CSA approved hard hats, safety glasses, boots and High Visibility clothing. 

In the drilling industry we have several mechanisms of intercommunication among ourselves. Some of these also provide ample opportunity to participate in the exchange of information and receive feedback. These include daily reports in the form of drill logs and hand signals when on the job site. Additionally due to the ever evolving industry around drilling, many drillers join groups on social media like the Geotechnical Environmental Drilling Group (2019). In these groups drillers can troubleshoot problems with each other or just discuss our day to day operations. 

Drillers have a vast lexis which is used on a daily basis. This will include everything from specific geological vocabulary, abbreviations for tools and parts of drill rigs and some rather colourful jargon to describe different aspects of the job. 

Conclusions and Recommendations

Drilling is a serious business and likewise the drilling discourse community can be very professional at times. Due to the rough nature of the work, the community can also be downright crass at times. Whether it’s the professional side or the grittier side, newcomers can rest assured knowing that the drilling community is very welcoming and sharing. For those newcomers looking to get involved, I’ll offer a few great first steps. 

  • Apply! There are a lot of entry level positions open in the  drilling industry and getting involved with the work itself is a wonderful first step. 
  • Learn! For the more academic minded, enrolling in a course like Fleming College’s Resources Drilling Technician diploma not only opens a lot of doors but teaches a plethora of important knowledge.
  • Join and participate in a chat group like the Geotechnical Environmental Drilling Group on Facebook.

As you can see, there is no shortage of ways to enter the discourse, I find it to be a very positive and welcoming community. I wholly encourage you to take that first step and come on in.

And here’s my name to say so.

D.A. Mills


Australian Drilling Industry Training Committee. (2015). The Drilling

Manual (Fifth Edition). Australia: CRC Press

Fleming College. (2020). Resources Drilling Technician (Optional Co-op).

Retrieved from https://flemingcollege.ca/programs/resources-


Geotechnical Environmental Drilling Group [Facebook page]. (2019).

Retrieved January 28, 2020, from 


GEOL16. (2020). Resources Drilling & Blasting Week #1: Introduction to 

Geotechnical Drilling [PowerPoint presentation]. Retrieved from

Fleming College myCampus Portal.

Hinterland Drilling. (2020). Environmental Drilling. Retrieved from 



COMM202. (2020). John Swales: Six Characteristics of Discourse

Communities [Desire2Learn link]. Retrieved from Fleming College

myCampus Portal.