METM10 poster presentation

A genre-analytic study of symposium presentations

Diana Balasanyan – La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain

Background: Recent advances in the study of spoken academic discourse (Ventola et al, 2002; Crawford Camiciottoli, 2004, 2005, 2008) have contributed greatly to the understanding of spoken academic genres and raised a number of questions yet to be investigated. This information may be of use to editors, translators and other knowledge brokers in their work with scientists. This study examines the rhetorical structure of symposium presentations (SP) and their similarities with and differences from other spoken and written academic genres.

Method: Audio recordings of 20 SPs were transcribed and then analysed for rhetorical structure using a combination of the models devised by Swales (1990) and Sinclair and Coulthard (1975).

Findings: As a subgenre of conference presentations (CP), SPs are not purely academic but also celebratory events. Both SPs and CPs are viewed as spoken counterparts of research articles, with which they bear striking similarities. SPs have Introduction, Results, Discussion and Conclusion sections, which are often explicitly signalled. The Methods section displays fewer similarities with articles. The move-step structure within sections of SPs is also greatly influenced by that of articles, although due to the primarily oral character of the genre, many -œconversational- or -œinteractional- elements are present in SPs. These are categorised according to their function, such as opening the channel, announcing the next section, etc. (-œframing moves-), or eliciting a (re)action on the part of the audience, making reference to the settings, etc. (-œaudience management-).

Conclusion: The findings of this genre analytic study may be useful for novice researchers themselves and for the translators and editors who work with them in preparing and rehearsing their presentations.


Diana Balasanyan is a PhD student at the Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain, where she recently presented her MA dissertation, a study of the generic structure of symposium presentations. She has also worked on interpersonal features of guest lectures. Diana edits a magazine in her native language, Armenian, and takes part in the Universidad de La Laguna's literary translation workshop.