Metadiscourse has received considerable attention in recent years as a way of understanding the rhetorical negotiations involved in academic writing. But while a useful tool in revealing something of the dynamic interactions which underlie persuasive claim making, it has little to say about the role of nouns in this process. We address this gap by exploring the rhetorical functions of what we call metadiscursive nouns (such as fact, analysis, belief) and by mapping them onto a model of metadiscourse. The study examines ‘metadiscursive noun + post-nominal clause’ patterns, one of the most frequent structures containing such nouns, in a corpus of 120 research articles across six disciplines. Developing a rhetorically based classification and exploring the interactive and interactional use of metadiscursive nouns, we show that they are another key element of metadiscourse, offering writers a way of organizing discourse into a cohesive flow of information and of constructing a stance towards it. These interactions are further shown to realize the epistemological assumptions and rhetorical practices of particular disciplines.