Talking to the literature: Stance taking in citing others’ work

Ken Hyland, Feng Kevin Jiang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Academic citation is the mechanism which both expresses the advance of knowledge and distributes credit for priority, emphasising that research is embedded in a literature and that writers are linked into wider social networks. It is also central to the ways writers are able to rhetorically build on what has gone before and distinguish their work from that of others, so that taking a stance towards earlier work is often a key act of academic positioning. In this paper we explore the role of reporting verbs and stance features to convey the writer’s evaluation of information imported from other sources, commenting on its evidential status to represent reported material positively, negatively or neutrally. Based on the analysis of a corpus of 2.2 million words from the same leading journals in four disciplines in 1965, 1985 and 2015, we document the ways in which stance taking towards cited material has changed over the past 50 years.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTeaching and Learning Source-Based Writing
Subtitle of host publicationCurrent Perspectives and Future Directions
EditorsRosemary Wette
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Print)9781032254920, 9781032252346
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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