“The goal of this analysis …”: Changing patterns of metadiscursive nouns in disciplinary writing

Feng Kevin Jiang, Ken Hyland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


The last 50 years have seen considerable changes in both research and publication practices in international English-medium arenas, and also witnessed a shift in argument styles in academic texts over these years (e.g. Hyland & Jiang, 2019). However, little attention was given to the rhetorical roles of nouns in diachronic studies of professional research writing. This is surprising since academic writing is an extremely noun-heavy register and novice writers often find nominal expressions difficult. In this study, we examine what are called metadiscursive nouns, a type of unspecific abstract nouns, in our diachronic corpus of disciplinary research writing to see whether they have increased in recent decades. It is found that this N pattern is most frequent overall, but hard scientists made increased use of quality nouns to promote the value of their research outcome while writers in the soft disciplines prefer evidential nouns for factual support to their knowledge claims. All these point to the need to include metadiscursive nouns into the rhetorical repertoire of metadiscourse and to emphasise their functions in the course of using English for research and publication purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103017
Number of pages14
Early online date30 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • metadiscursive nouns
  • academic persuasion
  • diachronic change
  • textual interaction
  • disciplinary writing
  • Academic persuasion
  • Textual interaction
  • Disciplinary writing
  • Diachronic changes
  • Metadiscursive nouns

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