Evaluative lexis in science: A corpus-based study in scientific abstracts

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Title: Evaluative lexis in science: A corpus-based study in scientific abstracts
Author: Cava, Amelia Maria
Abstract: The centrality of evaluation has been investigated mainly in genre studies, pragmatics, discourse analysis, and text linguistics as, for example, in: Aijmer (2005), Mauranen (2004), Stubbs (2001), and Swales (2004). The starting point for this study is a simple consideration of genre, that is, research article abstract as an evaluative genre per definition (Bhatia 1993 and Swales 1990). Academic writing is as rhetorical as any other genre; no matter how technical and apparently detached a scientific paper might appear, its discourse is designed to convince readers of the objectivity of its methods and the reliability of its findings. The present study focuses on evaluative language, in particular, Research-Oriented Evaluation (ROE) as defined by Tethela (1997). Corpus data have been collected for the purpose of verifying some discourse characteristic of evaluation in a specific genre. The corpus used, the RAA corpus, is made up of article abstracts from three international peer-reviewed journals: Mathematics and Computers in Simulation, International Journal of Primatology, Proteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics. Through a collocational analysis, I have attempted to investigate the linguistic resources of a precise type of evaluation that occurs in the proximity of specific words, defined in this study as ‘research process words’. The value system of the scientific discourse community is thought to prefer impersonal discourse with no explicit evaluation (Mauranen 2004, p. 116) but through metaphoric terms (Halliday 1994) and expressed implicitly by non-human actors. One of the chief functions of abstracts is to persuade the reader of the validity of the writer’s claims, and to accomplish this, the work of the author(s) and of other researchers is constantly evaluated along the text distribution. Results of the present analysis support the hypotheses that evaluation is genre specific and that an evaluative lexis uses a specific phraseology.
Citation: Cava, Amelia Maria. (2010). "Evaluative lexis in science: A corpus-based study in scientific abstracts."
Date: 2010-06-23

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