Change of attitude? A diachronic study of stance

Ken Hyland, Feng (Kevin) Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Successful research writers construct texts by taking a novel point of view toward the issues they discuss while anticipating readers’ imagined reactions to those views. This intersubjective positioning is encompassed by the term stance and, in various guises, has been a topic of interest to researchers of written communication and applied linguists for the past three decades. Recognizing that academic writing is less objective and “author evacuated” than Geertz and others once supposed, analysts have sought to identify the ways that writers use language to acknowledge and construct social relations as they negotiate agreement of their interpretations of data with readers. Despite prolonged and widespread curiosity concerning the notion of stance, however, together with an interest in the gradual evolution of research genres more generally, very little is known of how it has changed in recent years and whether such changes have occurred uniformly across disciplines. In this article we set out to explore these issues. Drawing on a corpus of 2.2 million words taken from the top five journals in each of four disciplines at three distinct time periods, we seek to determine whether authorial projection has changed in academic writing over the past 50 years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-274
Number of pages24
JournalWritten Communication
Issue number3
Early online date30 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


  • academic writing
  • disciplinary differences
  • stance
  • diachronic change

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