Metadiscursive nouns: Interaction and cohesion in abstract moves

Feng (Kevin) Jiang, Ken Hyland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


Research article abstracts have become an important genre in all knowledge fields, playing a crucial role in persuading readers, and reviewers, to take the time to go further into the paper itself. This promotional aspect of abstracts is well known, but less discussed is the ways writers are able to skilfully foreground their claim, package the information in a cohesive and coherent manner, and craft a disciplinary stance. One such rhetorical strategy is what we are calling metadiscursive nouns. Nouns such as fact, analysis, and belief are common in abstracts and do a great deal of rhetorical work for writers. In this paper we explore the interactive and interactional functions they perform in the rhetorical moves of 240 research abstracts from six disciplines. The results show how these nouns are frequently used to frame and coherently manage arguments while, at the same time, helping writers to claim disciplinary legitimacy and promote the value and relevance of their research to their discipline.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalEnglish for Specific Purposes
Early online date25 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes

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