Author: Hu, Haipeng
Title: A genre-based multi-dimensional analysis of English academic writing: the case of mainland China
Advisors: Cheng, Winnie (ENGL)
Degree: DALS
Year: 2020
Subject: Academic writing
Discourse analysis
English language -- Study and teaching -- Chinese speakers
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Faculty of Humanities
Pages: [15], 328 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Mainland China has the greatest number (390 million in 2006) of English learners in the world (Wei & Su, 2012). In general, Chinese students have made great efforts in learning English but their English proficiency remains rather not high. In recent years, in the academic world in mainland China, despite the growth in research publications in English, the overall number of publications in international journals in social sciences and humanities has remained low and citations have not been high. Effective writing for research publications in international journals does not only depend on the quality of the research presented but also the appropriacy and effectiveness of the research articles as a unique academic genre. This study aims to examine and compare English research articles in Applied Linguistics written by mainland Chinese scholars published in national journals in mainland China and by international scholars published in international journals between 2000 and 2014 in order to identify significant similarities and differences in the generic and linguistic features between the two groups of articles. The main purpose of the comparative study is to make recommendations to academics and researchers in mainland China for effective academic writing in English, particularly writing the genre and related linguistic features of research articles for international journals. This research combines Biber's (1988) multi-dimensional (MD) model and genre-based corpus analysis to investigate the generic and linguistic features of research articles in two academic journals in Applied Linguistics: Chinese Journal of Applied Linguistics (hereafter CJAL), the study corpus, and Studies in Second Language Acquisition (hereafter SSLA), the reference corpus. Biber's (1988) multi-dimensional (MD) model consists of six dimensions: Involved versus Informational Production, Narrative versus Non-Narrative Concerns, Explicit versus Situation-Dependent References, Overt Expression of Persuasion, Abstract versus Non-Abstract Information, and On-Line Informational Elaboration. It is true Biber's (1988) MD model has discussed a seventh Dimension, which shows 'academic qualification or hedging' (p. 114). However, the seventh Dimension is represented by 'the factorial structure of Factor 7, [which] is not strong enough for a firm interpretation' (ibid.). Because factor 7 is not used in Biber's (1988) study, his MD model has only six dimensions accordingly.
The results of this study show that in each of the six dimensions examined, similarities and differences are identified between CJAL and SSLA. The ten sub-corpora in this study show some generic features comparable to the genres of Academic Prose in Biber's (1988) study: both salient with respect to informational, non-narrative, explicit and abstract generic features, and not salient in terms of persuasive and real-time constraint generic features. Furthermore, in terms of informational, non-narrative and abstract generic features, each SSLA RA section is higher than each CJAL RA section respectively. The findings of the Effect Size analysis show that the difference of Method section in Dimension three is very large, and the differences of Results section in Dimension one and Discussion section in Dimension three are large. Furthermore, these generic differences could be illustrated by statistically different linguistic features in the corresponding dimension. This study suggests that research paper writing and instruction in the future should put much more emphases on generic awareness and the links between generic and linguistic features. This study has important theoretical and practical applications in the field of research writing in English, especially research article writing for international journals, not only in mainland China but also in other nations and cultures, not only in Applied Linguistics but also in other academic disciplines.
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Access: restricted access

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