Academic journal article The Journal of Linguistic and Intercultural Education

Analysing Genre: Research Article Introductions in Economics

Academic journal article The Journal of Linguistic and Intercultural Education

Analysing Genre: Research Article Introductions in Economics

Article excerpt

I. Introduction

The early nineties of the 20th century marked the beginning of genre based analysis of different text types. Since then, extensive research based on genre analysis has been carried out. This approach can be considered a part of discourse analysis and is of interest both to linguists and ELT practitioners.

Some authors, such as Hyland (1992), claim that "genre analysis is relevant to the classroom because it puts an emphasis on the rhetorical text structure" (p.14). Hopkins and Dudley-Evans (1988) offer a similar definition, saying that genre analysis is "an explicit description of the way in which texts are organised" (p.13).

Certainly, genre analysis was derived from the need to teach students how to organise texts they need to write. However, genre analysis is much more than a teaching tool.

Hyland (1992) claims that "genre analysis is the study of how language is used within a particular context. Genres differ in that each has a different goal and they are structured differently to achieve these goals" (p.150). This definition reveals the real nature of this approach.

Bhatia (1991:154) sees genre analysis as

an analytical framework which reveals not only the utilizable form-function correlations but also contributes significantly to our understanding of the cognitive structuring of information in specific areas of language use, which may help the ESP practitioners to devise appropriate activities potentially significant for the achievement of desired communicative outcomes in specialized academic or occupation areas.

It this sense, genre analysis does not have only pedagogical potential but can also illuminate the process of communication in a given genre (Dudley-Evans 1986:129). Genre analysis thus combines grammatical insights with corresponding socio-cognitive and cultural explanations. It aims at explaining language in use rather than linguistic forms on the surface level (Bhatia 1993:1).

Applied linguists agree that the author's purpose is of crucial importance in creating a certain genre. However, genre analysis does not consider only the influence of purpose on the choice of grammatical forms, but also takes into consideration rhetorical functions. Robinson (1991) says that "the author's purpose is explained with reference to the wider professional culture to which the author belongs" (p.25). Thus, genre does not refer only to a text-type but also to the role that a text has in the community within which it has been created. This, in turn, leads to the research of institutional culture.

The approach was developed by John Swales (1981) who investigated 48 research article (RA) introductions from different fields of science. His findings were presented in the work Aspects of Article Introductions, where he offered a four-move model of article introductions. In this work, Swales claims that article introductions have a structure within which a series of moves (parts) appear in a predictable order (see next section). Each move consists of several steps. In 1990, Swales offered a revised model consisting of three moves, urged by some criticisms that it was difficult to differentiate between Move 1 and Move 2. However, it is debatable whether the 3-move model solves this problem. I would argue that the choice between 3-move and 4-move model primarily depends on the discipline in which genre analysis is applied.

In the meantime, numerous attempts have been made to investigate research article introductions in different fields such as physics, medicine, engineering, biology etc. I have not found, though, any attempt of a detailed analysis of RA introductions in economics. The purpose of this paper is to present briefly my findings of a more extensive research into RA introductions in economics. I chose 40 introductions from The American Economic Review and 40 from The Economics Journal (53,340 words). The result of the analysis is a 4- move model characteristic of economics research article introductions. …

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