Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-2017


Research articles (RAs) have become the primary channel for researchers to circulate academic knowledge within certain discourse communities. Writing an acceptable research paper for publication in a scholarly journal is challenging for novice writers, especially for nonnative speakers of English. The present study was pedagogically motivated, and the ultimate goal was to provide the basis for a genre approach and corpus linguistics to academic writing for ESL/EFL postgraduate students in the field of applied linguistics.

The study analyzed the rhetorical structure and lexical bundles of English-language RAs—Introduction-Methods-Results-Discussion-Conclusion (I-M-R-D-C)—sections published in Saudi Arabian and international journals in the field of applied linguistics by implementing genre-based and corpus-driven approaches. First, the move structures of RAs were identified by using a genre-based approach, while different RA sections were analyzed by different models: Introduction: Swales (2004), Methods: Peacock (2011), Results-Discussion-Conclusion sections: Ruiying and Allison (2003). Next, the corpus-driven approach was applied to identify and analyze lexical bundles associated with each identified move in each IMRDC section, based on structural (Biber, Johansson, Leech, Conrad & Finegan, 1999) and functional taxonomies (Hyland, 2008c).

The major study findings were the similarities and discrepancies between both corpora regarding rhetorical structures, suggesting that cross-cultural variances do exist in academic writing. The Introduction, Discussion, and Conclusion sections were quite similar in both corpora, in which all moves appeared with a similar degree of frequency. However, the Methods and Results sections showed noticeable differences. Furthermore, the analysis of lexical bundles revealed that some rhetorical moves incorporated more lexical bundles compared with other moves. More lexical bundles were identified in each section of the RAs from the Saudi corpus than in those from the international corpus.

The results of the present study provide insight into the importance of the awareness of genre conventions and how lexical bundles are utilized in RAs. This awareness could help graduate students and novice writers to achieve greater success in producing publishable research articles. The present study explores the pedagogical implications of a syllabus that incorporates the findings of both approaches examined in the study.


Genre-based approach, corpus linguistics, academic writing, lexical bundles, research articles

Document Type




Degree Name

Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Rebecca Blum-Martinez

Second Committee Member

Pisarn Bee Chamcharatsri

Third Committee Member

Todd Ruecker

Fourth Committee Member

Holly Jacobson