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A corpus-based analysis of genre-specific discourse of research: the phd thesis and the research article in elt

Işık Taş, Elvan Eda
Writing a research article is not an easy task for novice researchers, who begin their study as outsiders in the academic community and who must deal with both the apprenticeship in their fields and the challenge of writing in a new genre. Moreover, PhD thesis is a genre which is very frequently “recontextualized” as a research article by the novice researcher. The aim of this study was to conduct a contrastive analysis of the genre-specific features of introductions in a corpus of theses written in PhD programs in ELT offered by Turkish universities and in a corpus of published research articles in ELT written by expert authors of different nationalities, in order to specify the similarities and differences in the authors’ use of lexico-grammatical, discoursal and rhetorical features in the two corpora. The analyses included both a hand-tagged and a computerized analysis of the two corpora. Specifically, the vocabulary profiles, the readability statistics, the use of verb tenses and citations, the move-step structures and the author presence markers of the two corpora were subject to contrastive analyses. The analyses revealed that the language of the RA introductions was structurally more academic, lexically dense, and thus, more difficult to read compared to the PhDT introductions. Moreover, although the CARS Model (Swales, 2005), to a large extent described the move-step structure of the RA introductions, it could not account for the move-step structure of the PhDT introductions. With respect to these variations, proposals were made to increase the effectiveness of the target PhD programs in empowering the novice researchers in their access to the discourse community of ELT.