METM14 presentation

How scholars enhance the value of their study and its results in research article introductions: some insights for authors, editors and translators

Isabel K. León and Pedro Martín-Martín, Tenerife, Spain

In today’s global academia, being internationally visible has become essential for scholars. An adequate use of promotional strategies, that is, strategies intended to highlight the scholars’ contribution, is becoming a central issue, especially for users of English as an additional language (EAL). With the aim of better understanding scholars’ practices when publishing in English-medium international and national journals, we compared promotional strategies in research article introductions. Following Swales’ updated model of introductory moves (2004), we focused on Move 3 steps, particularly those involving the highest degree of rhetorical promotion. We studied two disciplines in the field of health sciences (clinical and health psychology, and dermatology) and two other disciplines in the field of humanities and social sciences (political philosophy and political science), so as to corroborate rhetorical variation in the introductory promotional practices of English-speaking and multilingual scholars across these disciplines and fields. A total of 160 research article introductions published in English and Spanish were analyzed.

Our results show that the English texts presented a slightly higher degree of rhetorical promotion than their Spanish counterparts in all the disciplines analyzed within the same field. However, when comparing the two broad fields, the Spanish texts in the health sciences, as a whole, were more promotional than the English (and Spanish) texts in the humanities and social sciences. It would thus appear to be the case that conventions of specific professional subcultures are more influential than cultural factors. The differences we have observed may be taken into account in the writing, editing and translating processes in order to find solutions appropriate to clients’ needs. For language professionals, providing these solutions does not only involve suggesting linguistic changes but also changes in attitude to self-promotion in accordance with normal practice in English-language publications in a particular discipline. Our qualitative analysis yielded a set of strategies that can be used to convey rhetorical promotion in national and international contexts across disciplines. These strategies include ways of anticipating main findings and conclusions, and of highlighting the value of the research in a range of (more or less veiled) forms: enhancing the research implications tentatively and with appropriate modulation, making comparisons with previous work, emphasizing the research significance or novelty of a contribution directly and explicitly, or emphasizing its uniqueness or importance through gap creation and peer criticism.

Isabel K. León, PhD, is a lecturer in English for Medical Purposes at the Universidad de La Laguna (ULL) in Tenerife, Spain. She has done research in applied linguistics, particularly cross-disciplinary, cross-linguistic academic/ professional discourse analysis and English for Specific Purposes, and has published in ASp (journal of the Groupe d’Etude et de Recherche en Anglais de Spécialité, GERAS), IBÉRICA (journal of the AELFE association), Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses and recently (2014) in English for Specific Purposes. She currently belongs to the ULL research group on contrastive academic discourse analysis and also worked in the Multidisciplinary and Multilingual Research Group on Scientific Discourse Analysis, conducted by Françoise Salager-Meyer (Universidad de Los Andes, Mérida, Venezuela).

Pedro Martín-Martín, PhD, is a lecturer in English for academic purposes at the Universidad de La Laguna. His main area of interest is inter-cultural and cross-disciplinary analysis of academic discourse. He has published a number of articles (e.g. English for Specific Purposes 22, 34; Text 24). He is also the author of the book The Rhetoric of the Abstract in English and Spanish Scientific Discourse (2005), and co-editor of the monograph English as an Additional Language in Research Publication and Communication (2008). He is currently a team member of a multidisciplinary project (ENEIDA) on the strategies used by Spanish scholars when seeking to publish in English-language journals.