Background: Graduate engineering students are required to write for academic audiences; however, very few engineering programs teach engineering academic writing, and similarly, little research has been conducted on graduate engineering student writing. Purpose/Hypothesis: The purposes of this study were to investigate the argumentation patterns employed in the research statements of graduate engineering students who won NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) awards as an example of authentic graduate engineering student academic writing and to introduce visual genre maps as a method of analyzing argument structure. Design/Method: This study employed genre analysis methods to investigate the argumentation patterns of a corpus of 50 winning engineering NSF GRFP research proposals, using a rhetorical move-step coding framework modified from prior genre work in English research. Results: The genre analysis resulted in nine rhetorical moves and subcategorical steps. The argumentation codes were graphed as a function of progress through the document to create maps of argumentation that can be compared across the corpus. Four resulting categories of genre maps emerged from the findings, indicating major patterns in argumentation structure. Conclusions: The study of rhetorical moves of engineering graduate student research proposals offers students and instructors a way to present engineering writing from a genre lens. Genre maps may be an effective way for writers to envision the shape of written arguments and craft stronger technical messages.
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