Presentation on theme: "HESSAM ALDIN GHANBAR (IRAN). Writing in academic settings can be extremely difficult, laborious, and outright frustrating. This is particularly true."— Presentation transcript:
Writing in academic settings can be extremely difficult, laborious, and outright frustrating. This is particularly true for the introductions of research articles (RAs) where writers are faced with the difficult task of selecting the kind and amount of background information to orient their readers, the degree of directness most suitable for disclosing their findings, and, in general, the type of rhetorical strategies necessary to render their introductions most effective.
It is not surprising then that particular attention has been paid to the study of introductions and what they may reveal about the writers’ stance towards their readers and previous scholarship, and about the academic discourse community they belong to.
Contrastive rhetoric is defined as an area of research in second language acquisition that identifies problems in composition encountered by second language writers and, by referring to the rhetorical strategies of the first language, attempts to explain them. (Connor, 1996, p. 5). Taylor and Chen (1991) compared the structure of RA introductions in the hard sciences written by Chinese scholars and English-speaking scholars. The results revealed an important difference between the two groups regarding their treatment of previous research. Compared to the English group, the Arabic group provided less extensive discussions of other scholars’ work as indicated by the number and length of citations.
Jogthong (2001) studied 40 Thai RA introductions in the fields of education and medical sciences and showed that, in spite of the existence of a few common features, important differences emerge between the Thai data and the CARS model. Thai scholars seem to avoid challenging others’ research, exhibit little assertiveness, and even engage in self-criticism. They also fail to reveal their findings in the introduction, a major strategy for accomplishing Move 3, according to the CARS model.
i. What are the similarities and differences between English and Persian research article introductions in terms of the genre structures of moves and steps? ii. What are the socio-cultural inferences that can be drawn from the different genre structures in English and Persian introductions?
The corpus for this study comprises 40 introductions of research articles – 25 Persian and 25 English – in the field of educational psychology. A simple random sampling was employed within each stratum to ensure an unbiased representative sample. The modest size of 50 research article introductions was considered to be justified considering the present study is a combination of qualitative and quantitative research which includes both a description of generic structures and quantitative data
As mentioned earlier, the analysis of the data in this study uses Swales’ model, named Create A Research Space (CARS), which attempts to capture the main rhetorical patterns of organizing introductions in RAs (Swales, 1990). Swales proposes that RA introductions comprise three moves: establishing a territory, establishing a niche, and occupying the niche. In order to establish a territory, the author has to indicate the importance of the research field of the article.
i. Move 1—establishing a research territory ii. Move 2—establishing a niche iii. Move 3—occupying the niche (Swales, 1990)/Move 3— presenting the present work (Swales, 2004)
Overall, the rhetorical structures employed in both English and Persian research article introductions appear to be characterized by the three major features, namely explicitness, specifying the value of research and taking a critical stance. Both English and Persian research article introductions establish the context explicitly by defining the terms/concepts (Move 1 Step 2), presenting the background of the study (Move 3 Step 3), reviewing literature/findings of previous research (Move 1 Step 4), announcing the purpose (Move 3 Step 1) and the focus of the study (Move 3 Step 2).
The data show that these constituent steps help establish clear contexts. In defining the terms/concepts (Move 1 Step 2), writers provide explicit meanings to the terms and concepts related to the research topic. In presenting the background of the study (Move 3 Step 3), writers provide background information on issues closely related to the reported studies before they are dealt with in detail in the subsequent sections of the articles. Despite the links postulated above between socio-cultural factors and rhetorical features in Persian research article introductions, this study does not claim that the rhetorical organization of the corpus can or should be attributed solely to cultural conventions
Further research might shed more light on how written discourse can be viewed as at least partially influenced by the cultural background of the writer and the intended audience, in the same way that it is accepted that spoken discourse is so shaped.
With knowledge of the distinctive rhetorical features in each of these languages (English and Persian), Persian students will be aware that the expectations of native English-speaking readers are different from those of Persian-speaking readers. The findings of the present study have both theoretical and pedagogical implications. The differences in preferred Iranian and English rhetorical patterns may cause problems for Iranian students writing academic English prose which tends to use logical reasoning and English rhetorical structure. The findings can be used to show possible difficulties faced by Iranian EFL students in producing acceptable academic English writing and to suggest ways in which they and their teachers might deal with these difficulties.
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