Author: Wang, Qian
Title: What surprises, interests and confuses researchers : knowledge emotions in research articles
Advisors: Hu, Guangwei (ENGL)
Degree: DALS
Year: 2022
Subject: English language -- Discourse analysis
Academic writing
Language and emotions
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Faculty of Humanities
Pages: xix, 373 pages : illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: As a prestigious knowledge-making avenue, academic writing is traditionally expected to refrain from expressions of emotion. However, linguistically expressed surprise, interest, and confusion indexing academic authors’ affective attitudes toward their propositions are not uncommon in research articles. These emotions, included in the family of knowledge emotions, are inherently cognitive and contribute to fostering, generating, and constructing scientific knowledge (Silvia, 2013, 2019). The use of attitude markers in academic writing for writer-reader interaction has been widely researched (e.g., Abdi, 2002; Hu & Cao, 2015; Hyland, 2005; Hyland & Jiang, 2018). Nevertheless, the deployment of specific attitude markers (i.e., surprise, interest, and confusion markers) in scholarly communication has received little attention. Given the inherent connection of knowledge-making practices in research articles and the epistemic purposes achieved through knowledge emotion markers, this is surprising. Motivated to fill this gap, this study examines how the expression of knowledge emotions relates to the construction of scientific knowledge and is mediated by a range of factors, including an academic author’s disciplinary background, gender, geo-academic affiliation, and temporal location.
Drawing on frame semantics (Fillmore, 1985), the Surprise frame for surprise markers generated by Hu and Chen (2019) was validated in other disciplines not investigated by them. More importantly, semantic frames for interest and confusion markers were generated based on the distributive features of their distinct frame elements and frame interconnections. Given the shared semantic properties of the Surprise, Interest, and Confusion frames, a generic knowledge emotion frame was proposed. This frame was used to examine the use of knowledge emotion markers in 640 research articles sampled from four disciplines (Applied Linguistics, History, Biology, and Mechanical Engineering), written by male and female academics from core and peripheral zones of scientific research and published in two periods separated by 30 years (1985-1989 vs. 2015-2019). In addition to the corpus-based quantitative analyses, qualitative text-based interviews were conducted to explore disciplinary experts’ intentions behind their use of specific knowledge emotion markers.
The quantitative analyses revealed that discipline, gender, and region did not reliably predict academic authors’ overall use of knowledge emotion markers, although the variable of time did. However, the four variables under investigation were all robust predictors of the presence of some sub-categories of the frame elements in the knowledge emotion frame. In other words, multiple discipline-, gender-, location-, and time-related differences in the use of knowledge emotion markers were identified. Triangulation with the interview data obtained from disciplinary experts revealed that these observed differences were related to disciplinary knowledge-making practices, knowledge/knower epistemological orientations prevailing in the disciplines, gender-preferential discursive practices, male and female researchers’ status in academia, the linguistic disadvantages and under-representation of Periphery-based scholars, and the evolving scholarly ethos in increasingly competitive academic contexts for international publication.
Conceptually, the findings of the study offer new insights into research on metadiscursive practices in academic prose by adding a frame-based analytical perspective. Practically, these findings can inform novice researchers, and L2 academic writers in particular, of discursive resources for more effective academic communication. Pedagogically, instructional activities informed by the findings can empower students on EAP (English for Academic Purposes) programs to convey an appropriate authorial identity in knowledge-making practices shaped by disciplinarity, gender-related characteristics, location-based differences, and historical trends.
Rights: All rights reserved
Access: restricted access

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