Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Rhetorical Structure of M.a Abstracts Written by Students of English Language Teaching, English Translation and Chemistry in Iaush

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Rhetorical Structure of M.a Abstracts Written by Students of English Language Teaching, English Translation and Chemistry in Iaush

Article excerpt


Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST, hereafter) is a framework which explores the text structure above the clause level, by focusing on the relations between parts of text. The developers believe that this theory takes clauses as its atoms, and relates them hierarchically, using some rhetorical relations. In their model, these relations are defined functionally, in terms of what their effect on the reader is. Examples of such relations are justify, elaboration, purpose, antithesis, and condition.

RST is being used not only as a tool for analyzing the structure of natural language text, but also as a planning help in text generation. They also believe that rhetorical structures are a way to present the functional potential of text, its capacity to achieve the purposes of speakers and produce effects in hearers. It also shows a way to distinguish coherent texts from incoherent ones, and identifies consequences of text structure. The most obvious of the rhetorical structures is the use of text connectives like because and if. But researchers have established that syntactic means for expressing relations between text spans can also be exploited by a text generator.

One of the final things a student needs to do is to write is an Abstract. The Abstract is an importa nt piece of work as it is one of the first things an examiner will look at. An abstract gives readers a chance to quickly see what the main contents and sometimes methods of a piece of writing. They enable readers to decide whether the work is of interest for them. Cooley and Lewkowicz (2003) give this advice on the Abstract:

The Abstract is written after the research has been completed and the writer knows exactly what is contained in the body of the text. It is a summary of the text and it informs readers of what can be found in the dissertation and in what order, functioning as an overall signpost for the reader. Although it is the last part of a dissertation to be written, it is generally one of the first a reader will look at. Indeed, if the Abstract is not well written, it may be the only part of the dissertation a reader will look at!

Abstract writing is a skill that all students from different fields have to master when they write a thesis while doing their postgraduate course or research. Most of the theses and dissertations are prefaced by an informative abstract, which contains a "factual summary of the much longer report, and is meant to give the reader an exact and concise knowledge of the full dissertation." (Bhatia 1993, P. 78).

The abstract, as a genre, has some communicative functions for the post graduate students and professors. Irrespective of the subject they serve, abstracts function as being "advance indicators of the content and structure of the following text."(Swales 1990, P. 179). Writing thesis or dissertation in addition to writing and publishing articles in all fields including TEFL is a necessity for post graduate students. All of these publications have abstract. Nearly all journals need the articles to be accompanied with an a bstract up to 250 words. Post graduate students usually have difficulty writing an abstract. This can be due to the fact that abstracts should be as informative as possible and it should contain certain pieces of information.

Each genre has a communicative purpose articulated by its overall rhetorical organization. Most of Iranian post graduate students are not familiar with this genre, and this leads to many problems in jotting down an abstract. Having students work on the rhetoric of the abstracts is a technique which can be of great positive effect for Iranian post-graduate learners. On the other hand, not many studies have so far been conducted to elaborate the rhetoric structure of their abstracts. Thus, this study tried to fill the gap and investigated the rhetoric structure of the abstracts of the theses written by Iranian post graduate students of TEFL, English translation and chemistry. …

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