Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Rhetorical Structure of Research Articles in Agricultural Science

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Rhetorical Structure of Research Articles in Agricultural Science

Article excerpt


Although the rhetorical structure of research articles (RA) has been extensively examined from individual sections to complete IMRD sections regarding different disciplines, no research has been addressed to the overall rhetorical structure of RAs as a whole entity in the field of agricultural science. In this study, we analyzed 45 agricultural science RAs, using Kanoksilapatham's (2005) model as an analytical tool. A sixteen-move structure was identified, 3 for the Introduction section, 5 for the Methods section, 4 for the Results section and 4 for the Discussion section, respectively. The rhetorical structure found in this study extends and refines previous models. In particular, the occurrences of moves in the sections of Methods and Results appear to be discipline-dependent. These results seem to indicate that the rhetorical structure of agricultural science RAs tend to have their own pattern, so that this study should benefit non-native scientists in general and non-native scientists in agricultural science in particular, not only allowing them to understand RAs better, but also helping them in their competition for international publication.

Keywords: rhetorical structure, research article, move

1. Introduction

Concerning the dominant use of English in academic communication, Swales (1990) claimed "...there is no doubt that English has become the world's predominant language of research and publication" (p. 99). According to Gibbs (1995), most journals included in international databases, such as Science Citations Index (SCI), are published in English. In fact, over 80 percent of journal articles published internationally are written in English (Hamel, 2007), suggesting that research articles (RAs) in English play a key role in the spread of academic knowledge. Thus, the ability to publish RAs internationally is crucial for academic and professional success in science and technology.

Yet writing RAs in English has always been a daunting undertaking for non-native English speaking (NNES) researchers. Besides presenting the disciplinary content in a RA, researchers also need to meet the often stringent language requirements of the international journals concerned (Belcher, 2007; Flowerdew, 2001), whereby NNES researchers are put at a disadvantage in competing with their native English speaking (NES) peers (W. Cho, 2009; S. Cho, 2004; Flowerdew, 1999b; Huang, 2010; M. Marusic' & A. Marusic', 2001). This difficulty could be critical for NNES scientists, who might not succeed in being published if their work is coded in the wrong rhetorical style. To provide the most effective support to NNES academics, several dimensions concerning international publication were examined, including the attitudes of journal editors (Flowerdew, 2001), the challenges that NNES writers face (Flowerdew, 1999a, 1999b), and the perspectives held by NNES writers (Chiu, 2011), revealing that inadequate knowledge of rhetorical organization was the main difficulty faced by NNES writers. The difficulty is sometimes so frustrating that NNES writers feel marginalized, or even excluded from the international scientific community.

After John Swales' introduction of the Create A Research Space (CARS) model in 1990, there have been a great number of studies on the rhetorical structure of RAs in the past two decades, for example, Nwogu's (1997), Posteguillo's (1999), or Peacock's (2011) studies. Although these genre-based studies have made a significant contribution to the improvement of NNES academics' writing skills, a number of them have tended to focus on individual sections of the RA. These include Anthony (1999), Samraj (2002, 2005), Ozturk (2007), Hirano (2009), Pho (2010), Rubio (2011), Sheldon (2011) and Amnuai and Wannaruk (2013a) on the Introduction section; Lim (2006), Huang and He (2010) and Peacock (2011) on the Methods section; Brett (1994), Williams (1999) and Lim (2010) on the Results section; and Holmes (1997), Peacock(2002), Amirian, Kassaian and Tavakoli (2008), Basturkmen (2012) and Amnuai and Wannaruk (2013b) on the Discussion section. …

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