MET workshops

Abstracts and introductions: genre analysis for editors and translators of research articles


The workshop will present a genre-based approach to editing (and translating) research article abstracts and introductions. These two sections are chosen because they come together to tell nearly the “whole story” of the research experience. The conventions and the underlying structure of information in these sections will be examined from a genre perspective, with special emphasis on the use of standard “moves” and “steps” that conform to readers’ expectations. Knowledge of these conventions will allow language facilitators to identify anomalies that might reduce an author’s possibilities of success with readers.

Purpose: To explore the concept of genre analysis as an efficient way for language facilitators to gain guidance on structure and style.

Developer and facilitator: Alan Lounds

Description/structure: The basics of genre analysis applied to research articles will be introduced, and the scientific discourse of abstracts and introductions will be considered with reference to the needs and practices of authors and readers. The first part of the workshop will consider different conventions for the writing of abstracts and ways in which authors' editors can help to adapt them to the expectations of readers. In the second part, the Create a Research Space (CARS) model (see Swales, 1990) will be presented as a tool for analyzing introductions and for identifying what Swales calls "strategic moves".

The workshop will be very practical and participative, using examples, exercises and group discussion. It will consider the structure and style of research articles from a range of disciplines, with a particular focus on health sciences and engineering. Participants will have the opportunity to apply the principles of genre analysis to selected texts and learn to identify the salient features. This analysis will provide them with a tool for approaching research articles in disciplines that are both familiar and unfamiliar to them.

Who should attend? Authors' editors and translators who work with research texts.

Outcome skills: Participants will gain greater awareness of the research article genre in general and be able to identify the conventions of different text types within and across disciplines.

Pre-workshop information: Participants may want to read any of the following books, or parts of them:

Bazerman, C. (1988). Shaping Written Knowledge: The Genre and Activity of the Experimental Article in Science. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. (Now available online from WAC Clearinghouse Landmark Publications in Writing Studies, http://wac.colostate.edu/books/bazerman_shaping/).

Swales, J. (1990). Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Swales, J. (2004). Research Genres. Explorations and Applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Swales, J.M. and Feak, C.B. (2009). Abstracts and the Writing of Abstracts. Michigan: University of Michigan Press.

About the facilitator: Alan Lounds is head of the Language Advisory Unit at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, where he manages the translation of institutional and academic documents and the creation of language support resources. He has 25 years’ experience as a freelance editor and translator and also teaches academic writing. He is a founder member, former chair and current CPD chair of Mediterranean Editors and Translators.

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