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LINGUIST List 24.2943

Fri Jul 19 2013

Review: Discourse Analysis: Berkenkotter, Bhatia and Gotti (eds., 2012)

Editor for this issue: Anja Wanner <anjalinguistlist.org>

Date: 16-Dec-2012
From: Pejman Habibie < habibiepezhmangmail.com">phabibieuwo.ca, habibiepezhmangmail.com>
Subject: Insights into Academic Genres
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Book announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/23/23-3098.html

EDITOR: Carol Berkenkotter
EDITOR: Vijay K. Bhatia
EDITOR: Maurizio Gotti
TITLE: Insights into Academic Genres
SERIES TITLE: Linguistic Insights - Volume 160
YEAR: 2012

REVIEWER: Pejman Habibie, University of Western Ontario


“Insights into Academic Genres” brings together selected papers originally
presented at the conference on “Genre Variation in English Academic
Communication: Emerging Trends and Disciplinary Insights” in Bergamo on 23-25
June 2011. The volume consists of twenty-one chapters that are grouped into
four thematic sections: “Theoretical Insights,” “Presenting Research
Insights,” “Reviewing and Popularizing Research Insights,” and “Insights into
Pedagogic Genres.” There is a “notes on contributors” part at the end of the

In the introduction chapter, Gotti, Berkenkotter, and Bhatia present an
overview of the concept of genre including the significance and status of
genre and genre analysis, recent perspectives in genre theory and genre
studies, and diversity of methodological tools for specialized genre analysis.
The final part of the chapter outlines a summary of the contents of this

The two chapters in Section One, “Theoretical Insights,” address the most
relevant and recent issues and innovations in various areas of research into
academic genres. In the first chapter of this section, “Genre change in the
digital age: Questions about dynamism, affordances, evolution,” Carol
Berkenkotter investigates genre variation in an emerging digital genre in
academic communication, namely the blog. She argues that different
perspectives on generic variation depend on the theorist’s conceptual
framework and disciplinary training. Affordances, uptake, dynamism, and stance
are proposed as the criteria for evaluating the generic status of online
blog-posts. The next part of the chapter reports an analysis of stance
markers in blog posts.
The second chapter in this section, “Interdiscursivity in academic genre,”
deals with interdiscursivity in two academic genres, the doctoral thesis and
the research article. Vijiay Bhatia highlights how research articles are
discursively constructed based on doctoral theses and how an understanding of
interdiscursivity sheds light on underlying communicative processes of these
genres. He suggests a critical approach to genre analysis, in which not only
text-internal, but also text-external factors as well as interdiscursivity are
taken into account. He argues that such an approach clarifies the challenges
that emerging writers encounter for submitting their research articles to
international journals.

The chapters in Section Two, “Presenting Research Insights,” address genres
that report research results such as the research article, the conference
presentation, and the Ph.D. dissertation. The paper “Value marking in an
academic genre: When authors signal goodness,” by David Giannoni, addresses
value marking in the research article. Giannoni focuses on the embededness of
values in the research article and their linguistic representations in this
academic genre. In this corpus-based study, a combination of qualitative and
quantitative procedures, concordance data, and manual investigation are
employed to analyze explicit goodness-marking lexis in a corpus of 100
research articles. The findings of this study indicate that “goodness” is more
common in social sciences due to the value-laden nature of these disciplines
The next chapter, “Such a reaction would spread all over the cell like a
forest fire: A corpus study of argument by analogy in scientific discourse,”
reports a study of argument by analogy conducted in a corpus linguistics
framework. In this chapter, Davide Mazzi analyzes the use of discursive
resources, indicating argument by analogy in a corpus of scientific discourse.
He adopts van Eemeren and Grootendorst’s (1992, p. 97) view of analogy as the
point of reference and uses a corpus of 140 authentic medico-scientific
research articles published in 14 specialized journals. The findings indicate
a high frequency of this technique the “Results” and “Discussion” sections and
highlight its significant status and argumentative and reinforcing functions
in discursive practices of medico-scientific writers.
The next chapter, “Exploring generic integrity and variation: Research
articles in two English-medium interactional applied economics journals,”
deals with generic integrity and variation in the research article. In this
genre-based research, Pilar Mur-Duenas focuses on intrageneric and
intradisciplinary variation in research articles published in English in two
international applied economics journals. The research aims to shed light on
discursive practices of scholars as they calibrate their writing conventions
according to different publication sites. The results highlight the
significance of the site of publication and its influence on writing for
scholarly publication practices of scholars.
In chapter six, “Generic integrity in jurisprudence and philosophy of law:
Metadiscursive strategies for expressing dissent within constraints of
collegiality,” William Bromwich examines generic integrity conventions in the
domain of jurisprudence and philosophy of law. Taking Bhatia’s genre-oriented
perspective (1993, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2007), he investigates how authors
working in competing frameworks draw on metadiscursive devices such as
evaluative lexis and markers to indicate their stance on different issues, and
challenge research findings of other members of their discourse communities on
the one hand, and avoid dialogic frictions, and observe collegiality codes
with their colleagues, on the other hand. The corpus includes the complete
series of papers published in the “International Journal of Jurisprudence and
Philosophy of Law” in 2009-2011.
Chapter seven, “The title of my paper is...: Introducing the topic in
conference presentations,” addresses topic introduction in conference
presentations. Francisco Javier Fernandez Polo argues that although topic
introduction is redundant at the beginning of a conference presentation, this
move still plays a significant part in conference presentations . Moreover,
the study aims to investigate the intertextual relationship between topic
announcement and the title slide and to shed light on the structure and
constituent linguistic features of this move. The corpus of the study includes
the introductory sections of 31 conference presentations in English.
Chapter eight, “Why do we have to write? : Practice-based theses in the visual
and performing arts and the place of writing,” deals with practice-based
theses in the fields of visual and performing arts. Drawing on data from
interviews, surveys, and institutional documentation and guidelines,
Starfield, Paltridge, and Ravielli adopt a textographical approach (Swales,
1998a, 1998b) to investigate the place of writing, and explore written
constituent components of practice-based doctorates in those fields.
Chapter nine, “A genre analysis of Japanese and English introductory chapters
of literature Ph.D. theses,” is part of a larger on-going genre study of the
doctoral dissertation. In this chapter, Masumi Ono investigates generic
structures in the thesis introductory chapters of Ph.D. dissertations in the
field of literature, comparing English and Japanese. Ninety-nine introductory
chapters of literature Ph.D. theses are analyzed. The results indicate
cross-cultural differences in number, frequency, and obligatory status of
constituent steps of this genre.

The chapters in Section Three, “Reviewing and Popularizing Research Insights,”
deal with genres that are not used for reporting innovative findings, but are
reviewed in academic discussions and disseminated among colleagues in the
academic community.
In chapter ten, “The move structure of academic theatre reviews,” Anna
Stermieri investigates the academic theater review. Drawing on Swales’ (1990)
and Bhatia’s (1993; 2004) theoretical models, she analyzes the schematic move
structure of this under-researched genre and examines various aspects of
diachronic variation over a period of a decade (1991-2001). The underlying
hypothesis of this study is that the conditions in which the critic operates
and any probable fluctuations in these conditions will influence the critics’
performance and consequently their writing practices. The corpus of this study
includes 67 academic theater reviews that appeared in six academic journals.
Chapter eleven, “The dissemination of scientific knowledge in academia,”
examines two related genres. Comparing research abstracts (as a formal
academic genre) and their derived science reports (as a popular mixed genre),
Susan Kermas looks at the differences between these genres and investigate the
role of redrafting strategies in the popularization of scientific and academic
knowledge. This study indicates how the interconnection between topic and
readership determines lexical and linguistic features in each of these genres.
In chapter twelve, “Blurred genres: Hybrid functions in the medical field,”
Isabel Herrando-Rodrigo contrasts medical research articles and their more
popularized counterparts -- “Medical electronic popularizations” (or
“Med-E-Pops”) -- in order to highlight the hybridization process between
these genres. Exploring the genre of Med-E-Pops, she emphasizes that
Med-E-Pops reflect their corresponding research articles. She argues that
Med-E-Pops writers knowingly adapt research articles into more popularized and
comprehensible texts in order to raise the reliability of their texts, promote
their research, and expand readership in cyberspace.
Chapter thirteen, “Comments in academic blogs as a new form of scholarly
interaction,” aims at studying how the interpersonal strategies in blog
comments compare to those in other academic and computer-mediated
communication genres. In this study, Maria Jose Luzon analyzes a corpus of
eleven academic blogs from different disciplines, focusing on markers of
social and antisocial behavior. The findings highlight the hybrid nature of
comments in academic blogs and underline their role in constructing both
social and antisocial relations.
In chapter fourteen, “Cross-cultural differences in the construal of authorial
voice in the genre of diploma theses,” Olga Dontcheva-Navratilova examines
cross-cultural variation in the construal of authorial voice in relation to
the generic structure of theses written by Czech and German students of
English. The main objective of the study is an analysis of novice non-native
speakers’ use of pronominal self-reference items and impersonal
“it-“constructions to project an authorial voice into their master’s theses
written in English.
In chapter fifteen, “Cross-cultural differences in the use of discourse
Markers by Czech and German students of English in the genre of master’s
theses,” Renata Povolna investigates variation between the ways in which
novice non-native writers from two different discourse communities have
adopted the appropriate use of causal and contrastive discourse markers when
building coherent relations in academic texts. The study uses a small sample
of about 352000 words taken from a large corpus of Master’s theses written by
students of English in their final year of study. The findings indicate
cross-cultural variation in use of causal and contrastive discourse markers
(especially hypotactic and paratactic ones) as well as idiosyncrasies in use
of certain markers.

The chapters in Section Four, “Insights into Pedagogic Genres,” investigate
those genres that are used for educational purposes at a university level. In
chapter sixteen, “Variation in students’ accounts of graphic data: Context and
cotext factors in a polytechnic setting,” Carmen Sancho-Guinda examines
commentaries written by engineering students, focusing on a number of
constructive, contextual, and cotextual factors of those discourses, and the
role of such factors in discoursal variation. A combination of Goffman’s
(1971) interaction orders, the definitions of voice by Blommaert (2005) and
Ede (1989), and Hyland’s (2005) model of writer stance and engagement
constitute the theoretical framework for the interpretation of the results of
this study. The findings highlight variation in visual data reports in terms
of the expression of positioning and indicate that engagement features
outnumber stance features considerably.
In chapter seventeen,” K (Contract) Case Briefs in American law schools: A
genre-based analysis,” Michela Giordano conducts a qualitative and
quantitative genre analysis of a corpus of contract case briefs, a common
genre for students in American law schools, submitted by law students to an
online contract case brief bank. This study adopts Bhatia’s (1993) four-move
analytical model. An interesting feature of this study is an examination of
abbreviations and symbols in order to gain insights into how these represent
rhetorical strategies the student adopts as a way of analyzing a particular
case opinion in a formulaic way, recording and summarizing the outcomes for
further research and classroom discussion.
Chapter eighteen, “Digital video projects in English for academic purposes:
Students’ and lecturers’ perceptions and issues raised,” reports a study
conducted by Christoph A. Hafner, Lindsay Miller, and Connie Ng Kwai-Fun in
the context of an EAP course in an English-medium university in Hong Kong.
This qualitative study aims to configure a pedagogical approach to academic
literacy, which incorporates new advancements in information and communication
technologies. Students create a digital video scientific documentary, a hybrid
genre in digital media that brings together digital literacy practices with
traditional approaches to disciplinary English for academic purposes.
Chapter nineteen, “Interactive whiteboards as enhancers of genre hybridization
in academic settings,” reports a study on the incorporation of information and
communication technology tools into academic contexts. Patrizia Anesa and
Daniela Iovino investigate how integration of these tools, such as interactive
whiteboards, into academic courses facilitates the combination of features
that are typically associated with different genres such as lectures,
seminars, and presentations, and consequently, contributes to academic genre
hybridization, as a key feature of academic discourse.
In chapter twenty, “Representation of events and event participants in
academic course descriptions,” Sara Gesuato investigates characteristics of
academic course descriptions English through a textual approach. This study
focuses on lexico-grammatical representations of courses, teachers and
students, and events as the main components of academic course descriptions.
The study’s objectives are to determine the visibility of those components in
the texts and to determine the functional status of the texts (informational,
regulatory, or both) based on the assertions made about those components. The
corpus of this study consists of 100 course descriptions from ten disciplines.


The attraction of “Insights into Academic Genres” begins with the book’s
high-caliber editors, Carol Berkenkotter, Vijay K. Brattier, and Maurizio
Gotti. The selection of cutting-edge studies, thematic organization of the
chapters, and the way they dovetail with each other in each section are all
indicative of the comprehensive knowledge of the editors (see also
Berkenkotter, Huckin, & Ackerman, 1988). Their informed decisions and quality
editing make this volume more than a mere conference proceedings volume.

The volume presupposes knowledge of the concept of genre, and is addressed to
novice and established members of the discourse community that intend to know
what the state of the art of genre analysis is, and where future research
needs to focus on. It introduces new perspectives on the concept of genre and
genre analysis, focusing on new, (semi)-occluded, and emerging genres in
academia. The focus on a wide range of hot topics such as (sub)disciplinary,
cross-cultural variation, genre sets, generic integrity, hybridization and
popularization in combination with assorted methodological approaches make
this volume a must-read for those interested in genre.

Carol Berkenkotter’s chapter is one of the cornerstones of this volume. This
chapter puts forward interesting questions about conceptualization of genre
and generic variation in today’s digital context and draws attention to
importance and status of digital genres and internet-based discursive
practices. Stepping beyond traditional concepts of genre and genre analysis,
it also highlights the significance of further research into evolution of
“protean genres” such as wikis and blogs as a budding research area in today’s
research arena. Highlighting the theorist’s stance in conceptualization of
generic variation, this innovative chapter focuses on the blog as a rising
academic genre and operationalizes the concept of genre as a “recognition

Vijay Bhatia’s chapter presents a new and different perspective on research
article as one of the most-researched academic genres. In contrast to the bulk
of research on research articles, which is dedicated to the lexical and
rhetorical analysis of different sections of this genre and its evolution
overtime, this chapter focuses on the significance of “ management of
interdiscursive space” in genre analysis in general and between this genre and
doctoral theses in particular and challenges and complexities of novice
scholars for writing for scholarly publication. It highlights social-cultural
aspects and functions of genre rather than merely textual ones, draws
attention to underlying differences existent even in similar genres, and as
Bhatia argues, underlines the significance of a critical approach to genre
analysis. Considering the undeniable significance of scholarly publications in
global scholarship and “publish or perish” as one of the biggest challenges
for both established and novice academics, this chapter provides invaluable
insights for those interested in the research and pedagogy of writing for
scholarly publication.

Davide S. Giannoni’s chapter is noteworthy in two aspects. First, focusing on
an under-researched area in genre studies, this chapter deals with axiology of
academic discourse and linguistic manifestations and features of values
embedded in academic discourse. Second, from a methodological perspective,
this research uses a novel mixed-methods design combining quantitative
automatic and manual tools and techniques for identification of value-making
features in a written corpus of 100 research articles.

Francisco Javier Fernandez Polo’s chapter is the only chapter in this volume
that focuses on an oral genre namely, conference presentations. The
significance of oral genres in general and and conference presentations in
particular and their role in academic lives of scholars on the one hand and
the fact that genre studies have mainly focused written genres on the other
hand make this chapter a must-read.

Starfield, Paltridge, and Ravioli’s chapter is also one of the stronger
contributions in this volume. The research reported in their chapter is
noteworthy in terms of its methodological approach. In spite of the
traditional approach to genre analysis in which written discourse was the sole
source of data, this study adopts an investigative approach combining text
analysis and ethnographic methods to investigate a student-generated genre,
i.e., practice-based theses, in relatively new fields of visual and performing
arts. Attention to data triangulation through drawing on mixed data collection
methods such as survey, interview, and document analysis and longitudinal
nature of this study make the findings and implications of this research
particularly relevant.

Anna Stermieri’s pioneering research into the academic theater review is one
of the most interesting chapters of the third section of this volume. The
findings of this study are noteworthy as they highlight two interesting
features in this genre. At the macro-level, the results indicate a four-move
pattern in the rhetorical organization of this genre. At the micro-level, the
results reveal the double deixis of time and space as an interesting feature
in one of the constituent moves (the “Narrative move”).

Maria Jose Luzon’s research into academic blogs, as a genre of growing
popularity with academics, is also one of the must –reads in this volume.
Unlike most traditional genre studies, it focuses on an Internet-mediated
genre and on the hybrid nature of communication in a web-based social space.

Carmen Sancho-Guinda’s study is noteworthy in two respects. First, the study
examines graphic commentaries of visuals as a hybrid, unresearched genre in
applied linguistics. Second, the study adopts a mixed-methods approach
(combining discourse-based and corpus-informed methodology). The combination
of quantitative and qualitative methods and tools into innovative methods and
designs is an interesting feature of Giannoni’s, Mazzi’s, and Sancho-Guinda’s
studies as well.

Overall, this book is a very welcome addition to research on academic genres.
Any comments on what more could have been included or addressed seems
difficult, as the nature and focus of the papers presented at the conference,
and the editors’ subjective criteria for selection are not known. However,
based on the current content, the book could have done more justice to oral
academic genres and corpora as well as cross-cultural generic variation.
Moreover, an index at the end of the book would have added to the merits of
this volume.

Globalization and internationalization of academia require more in-depth
inquiry into student-produced genres, and cross-cultural, and contextual
factors that influence generic integrity and variation. Research also needs to
focus on (semi)occluded, and emerging disciplinary genres that students,
especially international ones, need to acquire for socialization purposes in


Berkenkotter, C., Huckin, T. N., & Ackerman, J. (1988). Conventions,
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Bhatia, V. K. (1993). Analyzing Genre: Language Use in Professional Settings.
London: Longman.

Bhatia, V. K. (2000). Generic View of Academic Discourse. In: J. Flowerdew
(Ed), Academic Discourse (pp. 21-39). London: Pearson.

Bhatia, V. K. (2002). Applied Genre Analysis: A Multi-perspective Model.
Iberia, 4, 3-19.

Bhatia, V. K. (2004). Worlds of Written Discourse: A Genre-based Approach.
London: Continuum.

Bhatia, V. K. (2007). Interdiscursivity in Critical Genre Analysis. Paper
given at the Fourth International Symposium on Genre Studies, Unusual, Brazil.

Blommaert, J. (2005). Discourse. A Critical Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge
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Ede, L. S. (1989). Work in Progress: A Guide to Writing and Revising. New
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Goffman, E. (1971). Relations in Public. New York: Harper & Row.

Hyland, K. (2005). Stance and Engagement: A Model of Interaction in Academic
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Swales, J. M. (1990). Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research
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Swales, J. M. (1998a). Textography: Toward a Contextualization of Written
Academic Discourse. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 31(1),

Swales, J. M. (1998b). Other Floors, Other Voices: A Textography of a Small
University Building. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Swales, J. M. (2004). Research Genres: Explorations and Applications. New
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Van Eemeren, F. H., & Grootendorst, R. (1992). Argumentation, Communication
and Fallacies. A Pragma-Dialectical Perspective. Hillsdale, N.J.; Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates.


Pejman Habibie is the lead teacher assistant in the Faculty of Education at
The University of Western Ontario, Canada. His research interests are EAP,
academic writing and publishing, genre analysis, and doctoral education.
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