Interest in language variation is a staple of English for Academic Purposes research and underpins its distinctive character as a field of inquiry. It is the specific nature of language use which defines EAP, yet this definition has been established almost entirely on the basis of inter-discoursal studies, with comparisons of register, genre, discipline, first language, etc. dominating our understanding. In this paper we take a different approach and focus on variation within the field, and specifically within its flagship journal, JEAP. Categorising every paper between volume 1 and 52 as principally taking a textual, critical, contextual or pedagogical orientation, we explore writers’ preferences for metadiscourse use. The differences which emerge can be attributed to the argumentation preferences of sub-fields and their knowledge-making practices. The findings offer evidence of intra-disciplinary variation in discoursal preferences and hopefully contribute to our understanding of both the journal and our field.