The relationship between syntactic complexity and rhetorical move-steps in research article introductions: Variation among four social science and engineering disciplines

Xiaofei Lu, J. Elliott Casal, Yingying Liu, Olesya Kisselev, Jungwan Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study investigates disciplinary variation in the relationship between syntactic complexity and rhetorical move-steps in research article (RA) introductions. Our data consisted of the introduction sections of 400 published RAs in two core social science disciplines, Anthropology and Sociology, and two core engineering disciplines, Chemical Engineering and Electrical Engineering. Each sample was manually annotated for rhetorical move-steps using an adapted version of Swales’ (2004) revised Create a Research Space model and assessed for syntactic complexity using multiple measures of global complexity, finite subordination, clausal elaboration, and phrasal complexity. Our results revealed significant disciplinary variation in terms of the syntactic complexity of sentences realizing each of six rhetorical move-steps commonly found in RA introductions. Our findings contribute to the emerging understanding of disciplinary variation in function-form mappings in RA writing and have useful implications for genre-based academic writing research and pedagogy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101006
JournalJournal of English for Academic Purposes
Volume52
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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