Academic clusters: text patterning in published and postgraduate writing

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218 Citations (Scopus)


An important component of fluent linguistic production is control of the multi-word expressions referred to as "clusters", "chunks" or "bundles". These are extended collocations which appear more frequently than expected by chance, helping to shape meanings and contributing to our sense of coherence in a text. Clusters seem to present considerable challenges to student writers struggling to make their texts both fluent and assured to readers in their new communities. This paper explores the forms, structures and functions of 4-word clusters in a corpus of research articles, doctoral dissertations and master's theses of 3.5 million words to show not only that clusters are central to academic discourse but that they offer an important means of differentiating genres, with implications for more evidence-based instructional practices in advanced writing contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-62
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Linguistics
Issue number1
Early online date20 Feb 2008
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


  • Academic writing
  • Clusters
  • Corpus analysis
  • Lexical patterning

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