Towards the Development of a Socially-Informed, Process-Oriented Model of Research in Metadiscourse

Document Type: Research Paper


Department of English Language, Maragheh Branch, Islamic Azad University, Maragheh, Iran


Since the early development of interest in the interpersonal dimensions of academic communication in the 1980s, the analytic potentials of the concept of metadiscourse have motivated a large number of investigations. Although these analytic potentials have facilitated the study of diverse academic genres, there has always been a risk of detachment of textual analyses form the contextual origins and motivations. In some cases, this detachment has been so observable that the true discoursal nature of the interpersonal dimensions of academic communication has been reduced to classifications of a large number of pure textual properties. As a reaction to this reductionist trend, the present article provides a preliminary framework within which the contextual origins of metadiscourse features can be understood. It is suggested that if the findings of metadiscourse research are meant to be interpreted in meaningful ways, they should be contextualized within such process-oriented frameworks.  



Adel, A. (2006). Metadiscourse in L1 and L2 English. John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Akbas, E. (2012). Exploring Metadiscourse in Master’s Dissertation Abstracts: Cultural and Linguistic Variations across Postgraduate Writers. International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature, 1(1),  12-26.

Althusser, L. (1984/1971). Essays on ideology, trans. Ben Brewster and Grahame Lock, London: Verso.

Althusser, L. (1990/1974). Philosophy and the spontaneous philosophy of the scientists & other essays, ed. Gregory Elliott and trans. Warren Montag et al., London: Verso.

Anwardeen, N., Luyee, E.O., Gabriel, J.I., & Kalajahi, A.R. (2013). An analysis of the usage of metadiscourse in argumentative writing by Malaysian tertiary level students. English Language Teaching, 6(9), 83-96.

Attaran, A. (2014). Study of metadiscourse in ESP articles: A comparison of English articles written by Iranian and English native speakers. International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research, 5(1), 63-71.

Barber, C.L. (1962). Some measurable characteristics of modern scientific prose. In C.L. Barber, F. Behre, U. Ohlander, Y. Olsson, S. Stubelius, J. Soderlind & P. Zandvoort (Eds.). Contributions to English syntax and phonology, (pp.21-44).  Goteborg, Sweden: Almquist and Wiksel.

Bazerman, C. (1998). Emerging perspectives on the many dimensions of scientific discourse. In J.R. Martin & R. Veels (Eds.), Reading science: critical and functional perspectives on discourses of science (pp. 15-28). London and New York: Routledge.

Becher, T. (1989). Academic tribes and territories: intellectual inquiry and the cultures of disciplines. Milton Keynes: Society for Research in Higher Education and Open University Press.

Bennet, K. (2013). English as a lingua franca in academia: combating epistemicide through translator training. Stefania T. (Ed) English as a lingua franca: Implications for translator and interpreter education, special issue of The Interpreter and Translator Trainer (ITT).7(2): 169-193.

Berkenkotter , C., &  Huckin, T. N.  (1993). Rethinking genre from a socio-cognitive perspective. Written Communication, 4, 475-509.

Bhatia, V. (1993). Analyzing genre: language use in professional settings. London: Longman.

Bhatia, V. (2001). Analyzing genre: some conceptual issues. In M. Hewings (Ed.), Academic writing in context (pp. 79-92). The University of Birmingham: University Press.

Breivega, K.R. , Dahl, T. & Flottum, K. (2002). Traces of self and others in research articles: A comparative study pilot study of English, French and Norwegian research articles in medicine, economics and linguistics. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 12(2), 218- 239.

Bunton, D. (1999). The use of higher level metatext in Ph.D these. English for Specific Purposes, 18, 41-56.

Camiciottoli, B.C. ( 2003). Metadiscourse and ESP comprehension: an exploratory study. Reading in a Foreign Language, 15(1), 15-33.

Candlin, C. N. (1997). General editor's preface in B.L. Gunnarsson, P. Linell and B. Nordberg (Eds.), The construction of professional discourse (pp. ix-xiv). London: McMillan. 

Chiu, R. (1972). Measuring register characteristics: a prerequisite for preparing advanced level TESOL programs. TESOL Quarterly, 6(2), 129-141.

Christie, F., & Martin, J.R. (Eds.). (1997). Genre in institutions: social processes in the workplace and school. New York: Continuum.

Crismore, A. (1989). Talking with readers: Metadiscourse as rhetorical act. New York: Peter Lang.

Crismore, A., & Farnsworth, R. (1989). Mr Darwin and his readers: exploring interpersonal metadiscourse as a dimension of ethos. Rhetoric Review, 8(1), 91-112.

Dahl, T. (2004). Textual metadiscourse in research articles: a marker of national culture or of academic discipline? Journal of Pragmatics, 36, 1807-1825.

Dobbs, C. L. (2014). Signaling organization and stance: academic language use in middle grade persuasive writing. Reading and Writing, 27 (8), 1327-1352.

de Oliveira, J.M., & Pagano, A.S. (2006). The research article and the science popularization article: a probabilistic functional grammar perspective on direct discourse representation. Discourse Studies, 8(5), 627-646.

Dudley-Evans, T. (1994). Genre analysis: an approach to text analysis in ESP. In M. Coulthard (Ed.), Advances in written text analysis  (pp. 219-28). London: Routledge.

Dudley-Evans T., & St John, M. J. (1998). Developments in English for specific purposes: a multi-disciplinary approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Estaji, M., & Vafaeimehr, R. (2015). A comparative analysis of interactional metadiscourse markers in the Introduction and Conclusion sections of mechanical and electrical engineering research papers. Iranian Journal of Language Teaching Research, 3 (1), 37-56.

Fairclough, N. (1992). Introduction in N. Fairclough (Ed.), Critical language awareness. London: Longman.

Flottum, K. (2005). The self and the others: polyphonic visibility in research articles. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 15(1), 29-44. 

Flottum, K, Dahl, T., & Kinn, T. (2006). Academic voices. John Benjamins Publishing Company. 

Flowerdew, J. (Ed.) (2002). Academic discourse. Longman.                                        

Foucault, M. ( 1972). The archeology of knowledge, Trans. Smith, S. London: Tavistock.

Fowler, R. ( 1981). Literature as social discourse: The practice of linguistic criticism. London: Batsford Academic. 

Freedman,  A. (1994). "Do as I say"? The relationship between teaching and learning new genres. In A.Freedman & P. Medway (Eds.), Genre and new rhetoric. London: Taylor and Francis.

Freedman, A.,  & Adam, C. (2000). Write where you are: situating learning to write in university and workplace settings. In P. Dias &A. Pare (Eds.), Transitions: writing in academic and workplace settings. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Gholami, J., Rafsanjani Nejad, S., & Looragipoor, J. (2014). Metadiscourse markers misuse: A study of EFL learners' argumentative essays. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 98(6), 580-589.

Gibbons, M., & Wittrock, B. (Eds.) (1985). Science as a commodity. London: Longman.

Gotti, M. (2012). Cross-cultural aspects of academic discourse. Brno Studies in English, 38(2), 59-78.

Gustafson, M. (1975). Some syntactic properties of English law language. Department of English, University of Turku, Turku.

Halliday, M.A. K. ( 1973/2004). The functional basis of language. In J.J. Webster(Ed.),  On language and linguistics (pp. 298-322). London and New York: Continuum.

 Halliday. M.A.K. (1993/2004). Writing science: literacy and discursive power. In J.J. Webster (Ed.), The language of science (pp. 119-225). London/New York: Continuum.

Harwood, N. (2005a). We do not seem to have a theory… The theory I present here attempts to fill this gap : inclusive and exclusive pronouns in academic writing. Applied Linguistics, 26/3, 343-375.

Harwood, N. (2005b). 'Nowhere has anyone attempted …. In this article I aim to do just that': A corpus-based study of self-promotional I and we in academic writing across four disciplines. Journal of Pragmatics, 37, 1207-1231.                                                                                                                                                            

Helali Oskouei, M.H., & Kuhi, D. (2014). The use of citations in academic writing: Analysis of introduction section of Iranian and native English master's theses. Journal of Social Issues and Humanities, 2(3), 216-220.   

Henderson, W. (2001). Exemplification strategy in Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. In M. Hewings (Ed.),  Academic writing in context (pp. 150-168). The University of Birmingham University Press. 

Heng, C. S., & Tan, H. (2010). Extracting and comparing the intricacies of metadiscourse of two written persuasive corpora. International Journal of Education and Development Using Information and Communication Technology, 6(3), 124-146.

Hewings, A., & Hewings, M. (2001). Anticipatory 'it' in academic writing: an indicator of disciplinary difference and developing disciplinary knowledge. In M. Hewings (Ed.) Academic writing in context (pp. 199-214). The University of Birmingham: University Press.

Hoey, M. (2000). Persuasive rhetoric in linguistics: a stylistic study of some features of the  language of Noam Chomsky. In S. Hunston  & G. Thompson (Eds.) Evaluation in text (pp. 28-37). Oxford: Oxford University Press.   

Holmes, R. (1997) Genre analysis and social sciences: an investigation of the structure of research article discussion sections in three disciplines. English for Specific Purposes, 16(4), 321-337.

Hopkins, A & Dudley-Evans, T. (1988).A genre-based investigation of the discussion sections in articles and dissertations. English for Specific Purposes,7, 113-121.

Hunston, S. (1994). Evaluation and organization in a sample of written academic discourse. In M. Coulthard (Ed.) Advances in written text analysis (pp. 191-218). London and New York: Routledge.

Hutchinson, T., & Waters, A. (1987). English for specific purposes: a learning-centered approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hyland, K. (1994). Hedging in academic writing and EAP textbooks. English for Specific Purposes, 13( 3), 239-256.

Hyland , K. (1996a). Nurturing hedges in the ESP curriculum. System, 24( 4), 477-490.

Hyland , K. (1996b). Writing without conviction? Hedging in Science research articles.  Applied Linguistics, 17( 4), 433- 454.

Hyland , K. (1996c). Talking to the academy: Forms of hedging in science research articles. Written Communication, 13( 2), 251-281.

Hyland, K (1999a). Talking to students: Metadiscourse in introductory textbooks. English for Specific Purposes,18(1), 3-26.

Hyland, K (1999b). Academic attribution: citation and the construction of disciplinary knowledge. Applied Linguistics, 20(3), 341-367.

Hyland, K. (2000). Disciplinary discourses: social interactions in academic writing. London and New York: Longman.

Hyland, K. (2001a). Humble servants of the discipline? Self-mention in research articles. English for Specific Purposes, 20, 207-226.

Hyland, K. (2001b) Bringing in the reader. Addressee features in academic writing. Written Communication, 18, 549-574.

Hyland, K (2002a). Directives: argument and engagement in academic writing. Applied Linguistics, 23(2), 215-239.

Hyland, K. (2002b) . Options of identity in academic writing. ELT Journal, 56(4), 351- 358.

Hyland, K (2002c). Genre: language, context, and literacy. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 22, 113-135.

Hyland, K. (2002d). Activity and evaluation: Reporting practices in academic writing. In J. Flowerdew (Ed.), Academic Discourse (pp.115- 130). Longman.

Hyland, K. (2004a). Disciplinary interactions: metadiscourse in L2 postgraduate writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 13, 133-151.

Hyland, K. (2004b). Graduate gratitude: The generic structure of dissertation acknowledgments. English for Specific Purposes, 23(3), 303-324.

Hyland, K. (2005a). Metadiscourse: Exploring interaction in writing. London and New York:   Continuum.

Hyland, K. (2005b). Stance and engagement: a model of interaction in academic discourse.  Discourse Studies, 7(2),173-192.

Hyland, K. (2005c). Representing readers in writing. Student and expert practices. Linguistics and Education, 16, 363-377.

Hyland, K. (2006). English for academic purposes: an advanced resource book. London and New York: Rutledge.

Hyland, K. (2007). Applying a gloss: Exemplifying and reformulating in academic discourse. Applied Linguistics, 28(2), 266-285.

Hyland, K. (2008a). 'Small bits of textual material': A discourse analysis of Swales' writing. English for Specific Purposes, 27, 143-160.

Hyland, K. (2008b). Persuasion, interaction and the construction of knowledge: Representing self and others in research writing. International Journal of English Studies, 8 (2), 1-23.

Hyland, K. (2009). Academic discourse. Continuum.

Hyland, F., & Hyland K. (2001). Sugaring the pill. Praise and criticism in written feedback.  Journal of Second Language Writing, 10, 185-212.

Hyland, K., & Tse, P. (2004). Metadiscourse in academic writing: a reappraisal. Applied Linguistics, 25(2), 156-177.

Hyland, K.,  & Tse, P. (2005). Hooking the reader: a corpus study of evaluative that in abstracts. English for Specific Purposes, 24, 123-139.

Jaworsky, A., & Coupland, N.  (1999). Introduction in A. Jaworsky and N. Coupland (Eds), The discourse reader (pp. 1-44). London and New York: Routledge.

Kheovichai, B. (2013). Marketization in the language of UK university recruitment. A critical discourse analysis and comparison of university and finance industry job advertisements. Unpublished PhD thesis. The University of Birmingham.

Kuhi, D. (2014).Commodified discourses, commodifying discourses: In pursuit of a theoretical model on the constitutive functioning of academic discourse in marketization of higher education. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Discourse Analysis, 2(1), 39-62.

Kuhi, D.,  & Alinejad, Y. (in press). Stephen Hawking's community-bound voice: A functional investigation of self-mentions in Stephen Hawking's scientific prose. Journal of Applied Linguistics,

Kuhi, D, Asadollahfam, H., &  Amin, S. (2014). An investigation of the effect of audience awareness-raising on EFL   learners' use of interpersonal resources in essay writing. Social and Behavioural Sciences, Social and Behavioural Sciences, 1016-1025.

Kuhi, D., Asadollahfam, H., & Dabbagh-Anbarian, K. (2014). The effect of metadiscourse use on Iranian EFL learners' lecture comprehension. Social and Behavioural Sciences, 1026-1035.

Kuhi, D., & Behnam, B. (2011). Generic variations and metadiscourse use in the writing of applied linguists: A comparative study and preliminary framework. Written Communication. 28  (1),  97-141.

Kuhi, D., & Dustsadigh, Z. (2012). A cross-cultural diachronic study on hedging  devices diversity in chemistry research articles. Paper presented at the Second International Conference on Foreign Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo.

Kuhi, D., & Mollanaghizadeh, N. (in press). A contrastive exploration of manifest intertextuality in applied linguistics research articles: Iranian vs.  English authors. Journal of Applied Linguistics,

Kuhi, D., & Mousavi, Z. (2015). A diachronic study of interpersonality in research article discussion section: The field of applied linguistics. International Journal of Research in Humanities and Social Studies, 2 (4),6-13.

Kuhi, D., Sorayyaei Azar, A., Shomoosi, A., & Shomoosi, N. (2012). Interaction in the written output of learners of English: the case of gender. Journal of Education, 1(2), 79-90.

Kuhi, D., Tofigh, M., & Babaei, R. (2012). Self-representation in academic writing: The case of computer engineering RAs by English vs. Iranian writers.  International Journal of Research in Second Language  Learning, DOI:10.5861/ijrsl.2012.164.

Kuhi, D , Yavari, M., & Sorayyaei. A. (2012). Metadiscourse in applied linguistics research articles: a  cross-sectional survey. Mediterranean Journal of Social  Sciences, 3(11), 405-415.

Kuhn, T. (1970). The structure of scientific revolution (2nd ed). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lantolf, J.  (1999). Second culture acquisition: cognitive considerations. In E. Hinkel (Ed.), Culture in second language teaching and learning (pp. 28-46). Cambridge: CUP.

Latawiec, B. M. (2012). Metadiscourse in oral discussions and persuasive essays of children exposed to collaborative reasoning. Unpublished PhD Dissertation. Urbana: Illinois.

Lecercle, J. J. (2006). A Marxist philosophy of language. Brill.

Lee, D.  (1992). Competing discourses. London: Longman.

Letsoela, P. M. (2013). Interacting with readers: Metadiscourse features in National University of Lesotho undergraduate students' academic writing. International Journal of Linguistics, 5(6), 138-153.

Lynch, K. (2006). Neo-liberalism and marketization: the implications for higher education. European Educational Research Journal, 5(1), 1-17.

Mansourizadeh, K., & Ahmad, U. K. (2011). Citation practices among non-native expert and novice scientific writers. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 10(3), 152-161.

Martin, J.R. (1992). English text: system and structure. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

 Mauranen, A. (1993). Contrastive ESP rhetoric: metatext in Finnish-English Economic texts. English for Specific Purposes, 12, 3-22.

McEnry, T., & Kifle, N.A. (2002). Epistemic modality in argumentative essays of second language writers. In J. Flowerdew (Ed.),  Academic Discourse (pp. 182- 195). Longman.

Mei, S.W., & Allison, D. (2005). Evaluative expressions in analytical arguments: aspects of appraisal in assigned English language essays. Journal of Applied Linguistics, 2(1), 105-127.

Miller, C. (1994). Genre as social action. In A. Freedman and P. Medway (Eds), Genre and the new rhetoric. London: Taylor & Francis.

 Moreno, A. (2003). Matching theoretical descriptions of discourse and practical applications to teaching: the case of causal metatext. English for Specific Purposes, 22, 265-295.

Mur-Dueñas, P. (2007a). A contribution to the intercultural analysis of metadiscourse in business management research articles in English and in Spanish: A corpus-driven approach (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Zaragoza, Spain.         

Mur-Dueñas, P. (2007b). "I/we focus on..." A cross-cultural analysis of self-mentions in business management research articles. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 6(2), 143-162.

Mur-Dueñas, P., & Šinkuniene, J. (2016). Self-references in  research articles across Europe and Asia: A review of studies. Brno Studies in English (42)1, (in press).

Myers, G. (2001). 'In my opinion': the place of personal views in undergraduate essays. In M. Hewings (Ed.), Academic writing in context (pp. 63-78). The University of Birmingham: University Press.           

Nelson, N. (2008). The reading-writing nexus in discourse research. In C. Bazerman (Ed.),  Handbook of research on writing: history, society, school, individual, text (pp.435-449).  London and New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Petrić, B. (2007). Rhetorical functions of citations in high-and low-rated master’s theses. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 6(3), 238-253.

Rodrigues Junior, A.S. (2003). Facework, writing and interaction in the FL classroom. Linguagem and Ensino. 6(2), 163-189.

Rustipa, K. (2014). Metadiscourse in Indonesian EFL learners persuasive texts. A case study at English department. International Journal of Linguistics, 4(1), 44-52.

 Sanigar, M. A. (2013). Selling an Education. Universities as commercial entities: a corpus-based study of university websites as self-promotion. LWPLP, 18, 85-114.

Sarangi, S., &  Roberts, C. ( 1999). Talk, work and institutional order: discourse in medical, mediation and management settings. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Selinker, L. , Lackstrom, J., & Trimble, L. (1973). Technical rhetorical principles and grammatical choices. TESOL Quarterly, 7(2), 127-136.

Shi-Xu (2005). A cultural approach to discourse. Palgrave McMillan. 

Street, B.V.  (1995). Social literacies: critical approaches to literacy in development, ethnography, and education. New york: Longman.

Swales, J. (1981). Aspects of article introductions. Birmingham, UK: The University of Aston, Language Studies Unit.

Swales, J. (1990). Genre analysis: English in academic and research settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Swales, J. (2004). Research genres: Exploration and applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Swales, J, Ahmed, U.K, Chang, Y, Chavez, D. Dressen, D.F., & Seymour, R. ( 1998). Consider this: the role of imperatives in scholarly writing. Applied Linguistics, 19(1), 97-121.

Swales, J., & Feak, C. (2004).Academic writing for graduate students (2nded). The University of Michigan Press.

Taylor, J. (2001) The Impact of performance indicators on the work of university academics; evidence from Australian universities, Higher Education Quarterly, 55(1), 42-61.

Teo, P. (2007). The marketization of higher education: A comparative case study of two universities in Singapore. Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis Across Disciplines, 1(1), 95-11.

Thomas, S., & Hawes, T., (1994). Reporting verbs in medical journal articles. English for Specific Purposes, 13(2), 129-148.

Thompson, S. (1994). Frameworks and contexts: a genre-based approach to analyzing lecture introductions. English for Specific Purposes, 13 (2), 171-186.

Thompson, P. (2000). Citation practices in PhD theses. In L. Burnard, & T. McEnery (Eds.), Rethinking Language Pedagogy from a Corpus Perspective (pp. 91-101). Frankfurt: Peter Lang.             

Thompson, G.  (2001). Interaction in academic writing: learning to argue with the reader. Applied Linguistics, 22(1), 58-78.                                                                                                                   

Thompson, P. (2005). Points of focus and position: Intertextual reference in PhD theses. Journal of English for Academic Purposes,4, 307–323.

Thompson, P., & Tribble, C. (2001). Looking at citations: Using corpora in English for academic purposes. Language Learning & Technology, 5(3), 91-105.

Thompson, G., & Ye. Y. (1991). Evaluation in the reporting verbs used in academic papers. Applied Linguistics, 124, 365-82.                 

Thue Vold, E. (2006). Epistemic modality markers in research articles: a cross-linguistic and cross-disciplinary study. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 16(1), 61- 87.

Vande Kopple, W. (1985). Some exploratory discourse on metadiscourse. College Composition and Communication, 36, 82-93.

White, R. (1974).The concept of register and TESL. TESOL Quarterly, 8(4), 401-416.

Widdowson, H.G. (1984). Explorations in applied linguistics (2). Oxford: Oxford University  Press.

Yakhontova, T. (2002). "Selling" or "telling"? The issue of cultural variation in research genres. In J. Flowerdew (Ed.), Academic discourse. London: Longman.