LINGUIST List 24.2943

Fri Jul 19 2013

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

Editor for this issue: Anja Wanner <>

Date: 16-Dec-2012
From: Pejman Habibie <>
Subject: Insights into Academic Genres
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Book announced at

EDITOR: Carol BerkenkotterEDITOR: Vijay K. BhatiaEDITOR: Maurizio GottiTITLE: Insights into Academic GenresSERIES TITLE: Linguistic Insights - Volume 160PUBLISHER: Peter Lang AGYEAR: 2012

REVIEWER: Pejman Habibie, University of Western Ontario


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

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

The two chapters in Section One, “Theoretical Insights,” address the mostrelevant and recent issues and innovations in various areas of research intoacademic genres. In the first chapter of this section, “Genre change in thedigital age: Questions about dynamism, affordances, evolution,” CarolBerkenkotter investigates genre variation in an emerging digital genre inacademic communication, namely the blog. She argues that differentperspectives on generic variation depend on the theorist’s conceptualframework and disciplinary training. Affordances, uptake, dynamism, and stanceare proposed as the criteria for evaluating the generic status of onlineblog-posts. The next part of the chapter reports an analysis of stancemarkers in blog posts.The second chapter in this section, “Interdiscursivity in academic genre,”deals with interdiscursivity in two academic genres, the doctoral thesis andthe research article. Vijiay Bhatia highlights how research articles arediscursively constructed based on doctoral theses and how an understanding ofinterdiscursivity sheds light on underlying communicative processes of thesegenres. He suggests a critical approach to genre analysis, in which not onlytext-internal, but also text-external factors as well as interdiscursivity aretaken into account. He argues that such an approach clarifies the challengesthat emerging writers encounter for submitting their research articles tointernational journals.

The chapters in Section Two, “Presenting Research Insights,” address genresthat report research results such as the research article, the conferencepresentation, and the Ph.D. dissertation. The paper “Value marking in anacademic genre: When authors signal goodness,” by David Giannoni, addressesvalue marking in the research article. Giannoni focuses on the embededness ofvalues in the research article and their linguistic representations in thisacademic genre. In this corpus-based study, a combination of qualitative andquantitative procedures, concordance data, and manual investigation areemployed to analyze explicit goodness-marking lexis in a corpus of 100research articles. The findings of this study indicate that “goodness” is morecommon in social sciences due to the value-laden nature of these disciplinesThe next chapter, “Such a reaction would spread all over the cell like aforest fire: A corpus study of argument by analogy in scientific discourse,”reports a study of argument by analogy conducted in a corpus linguisticsframework. In this chapter, Davide Mazzi analyzes the use of discursiveresources, indicating argument by analogy in a corpus of scientific discourse.He adopts van Eemeren and Grootendorst’s (1992, p. 97) view of analogy as thepoint of reference and uses a corpus of 140 authentic medico-scientificresearch articles published in 14 specialized journals. The findings indicatea high frequency of this technique the “Results” and “Discussion” sections andhighlight its significant status and argumentative and reinforcing functionsin discursive practices of medico-scientific writers.The next chapter, “Exploring generic integrity and variation: Researcharticles in two English-medium interactional applied economics journals,”deals with generic integrity and variation in the research article. In thisgenre-based research, Pilar Mur-Duenas focuses on intrageneric andintradisciplinary variation in research articles published in English in twointernational applied economics journals. The research aims to shed light ondiscursive practices of scholars as they calibrate their writing conventionsaccording to different publication sites. The results highlight thesignificance of the site of publication and its influence on writing forscholarly publication practices of scholars.In chapter six, “Generic integrity in jurisprudence and philosophy of law:Metadiscursive strategies for expressing dissent within constraints ofcollegiality,” William Bromwich examines generic integrity conventions in thedomain of jurisprudence and philosophy of law. Taking Bhatia’s genre-orientedperspective (1993, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2007), he investigates how authorsworking in competing frameworks draw on metadiscursive devices such asevaluative lexis and markers to indicate their stance on different issues, andchallenge research findings of other members of their discourse communities onthe one hand, and avoid dialogic frictions, and observe collegiality codeswith their colleagues, on the other hand. The corpus includes the completeseries of papers published in the “International Journal of Jurisprudence andPhilosophy of Law” in 2009-2011.Chapter seven, “The title of my paper is...: Introducing the topic inconference presentations,” addresses topic introduction in conferencepresentations. Francisco Javier Fernandez Polo argues that although topicintroduction is redundant at the beginning of a conference presentation, thismove still plays a significant part in conference presentations . Moreover,the study aims to investigate the intertextual relationship between topicannouncement and the title slide and to shed light on the structure andconstituent linguistic features of this move. The corpus of the study includesthe introductory sections of 31 conference presentations in English.Chapter eight, “Why do we have to write? : Practice-based theses in the visualand performing arts and the place of writing,” deals with practice-basedtheses in the fields of visual and performing arts. Drawing on data frominterviews, 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 writtenconstituent components of practice-based doctorates in those fields.Chapter nine, “A genre analysis of Japanese and English introductory chaptersof literature Ph.D. theses,” is part of a larger on-going genre study of thedoctoral dissertation. In this chapter, Masumi Ono investigates genericstructures in the thesis introductory chapters of Ph.D. dissertations in thefield of literature, comparing English and Japanese. Ninety-nine introductorychapters of literature Ph.D. theses are analyzed. The results indicatecross-cultural differences in number, frequency, and obligatory status ofconstituent 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 arereviewed in academic discussions and disseminated among colleagues in theacademic community.In chapter ten, “The move structure of academic theatre reviews,” AnnaStermieri investigates the academic theater review. Drawing on Swales’ (1990)and Bhatia’s (1993; 2004) theoretical models, she analyzes the schematic movestructure of this under-researched genre and examines various aspects ofdiachronic variation over a period of a decade (1991-2001). The underlyinghypothesis of this study is that the conditions in which the critic operatesand any probable fluctuations in these conditions will influence the critics’performance and consequently their writing practices. The corpus of this studyincludes 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 formalacademic genre) and their derived science reports (as a popular mixed genre),Susan Kermas looks at the differences between these genres and investigate therole of redrafting strategies in the popularization of scientific and academicknowledge. This study indicates how the interconnection between topic andreadership 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 morepopularized counterparts -- “Medical electronic popularizations” (or“Med-E-Pops”) -- in order to highlight the hybridization process betweenthese genres. Exploring the genre of Med-E-Pops, she emphasizes thatMed-E-Pops reflect their corresponding research articles. She argues thatMed-E-Pops writers knowingly adapt research articles into more popularized andcomprehensible texts in order to raise the reliability of their texts, promotetheir research, and expand readership in cyberspace.Chapter thirteen, “Comments in academic blogs as a new form of scholarlyinteraction,” aims at studying how the interpersonal strategies in blogcomments compare to those in other academic and computer-mediatedcommunication genres. In this study, Maria Jose Luzon analyzes a corpus ofeleven academic blogs from different disciplines, focusing on markers ofsocial and antisocial behavior. The findings highlight the hybrid nature ofcomments in academic blogs and underline their role in constructing bothsocial and antisocial relations.In chapter fourteen, “Cross-cultural differences in the construal of authorialvoice in the genre of diploma theses,” Olga Dontcheva-Navratilova examinescross-cultural variation in the construal of authorial voice in relation tothe generic structure of theses written by Czech and German students ofEnglish. The main objective of the study is an analysis of novice non-nativespeakers’ use of pronominal self-reference items and impersonal“it-“constructions to project an authorial voice into their master’s theseswritten in English.In chapter fifteen, “Cross-cultural differences in the use of discourseMarkers by Czech and German students of English in the genre of master’stheses,” Renata Povolna investigates variation between the ways in whichnovice non-native writers from two different discourse communities haveadopted the appropriate use of causal and contrastive discourse markers whenbuilding coherent relations in academic texts. The study uses a small sampleof about 352000 words taken from a large corpus of Master’s theses written bystudents of English in their final year of study. The findings indicatecross-cultural variation in use of causal and contrastive discourse markers(especially hypotactic and paratactic ones) as well as idiosyncrasies in useof certain markers.

The chapters in Section Four, “Insights into Pedagogic Genres,” investigatethose genres that are used for educational purposes at a university level. Inchapter sixteen, “Variation in students’ accounts of graphic data: Context andcotext factors in a polytechnic setting,” Carmen Sancho-Guinda examinescommentaries written by engineering students, focusing on a number ofconstructive, contextual, and cotextual factors of those discourses, and therole of such factors in discoursal variation. A combination of Goffman’s(1971) interaction orders, the definitions of voice by Blommaert (2005) andEde (1989), and Hyland’s (2005) model of writer stance and engagementconstitute the theoretical framework for the interpretation of the results ofthis study. The findings highlight variation in visual data reports in termsof the expression of positioning and indicate that engagement featuresoutnumber stance features considerably.In chapter seventeen,” K (Contract) Case Briefs in American law schools: Agenre-based analysis,” Michela Giordano conducts a qualitative andquantitative genre analysis of a corpus of contract case briefs, a commongenre for students in American law schools, submitted by law students to anonline contract case brief bank. This study adopts Bhatia’s (1993) four-moveanalytical model. An interesting feature of this study is an examination ofabbreviations and symbols in order to gain insights into how these representrhetorical strategies the student adopts as a way of analyzing a particularcase opinion in a formulaic way, recording and summarizing the outcomes forfurther research and classroom discussion.Chapter eighteen, “Digital video projects in English for academic purposes:Students’ and lecturers’ perceptions and issues raised,” reports a studyconducted by Christoph A. Hafner, Lindsay Miller, and Connie Ng Kwai-Fun inthe context of an EAP course in an English-medium university in Hong Kong.This qualitative study aims to configure a pedagogical approach to academicliteracy, which incorporates new advancements in information and communicationtechnologies. Students create a digital video scientific documentary, a hybridgenre in digital media that brings together digital literacy practices withtraditional approaches to disciplinary English for academic purposes.Chapter nineteen, “Interactive whiteboards as enhancers of genre hybridizationin academic settings,” reports a study on the incorporation of information andcommunication technology tools into academic contexts. Patrizia Anesa andDaniela Iovino investigate how integration of these tools, such as interactivewhiteboards, into academic courses facilitates the combination of featuresthat are typically associated with different genres such as lectures,seminars, and presentations, and consequently, contributes to academic genrehybridization, as a key feature of academic discourse.In chapter twenty, “Representation of events and event participants inacademic course descriptions,” Sara Gesuato investigates characteristics ofacademic course descriptions English through a textual approach. This studyfocuses on lexico-grammatical representations of courses, teachers andstudents, and events as the main components of academic course descriptions.The study’s objectives are to determine the visibility of those components inthe texts and to determine the functional status of the texts (informational,regulatory, or both) based on the assertions made about those components. Thecorpus of this study consists of 100 course descriptions from ten disciplines.


The attraction of “Insights into Academic Genres” begins with the book’shigh-caliber editors, Carol Berkenkotter, Vijay K. Brattier, and MaurizioGotti. The selection of cutting-edge studies, thematic organization of thechapters, and the way they dovetail with each other in each section are allindicative of the comprehensive knowledge of the editors (see alsoBerkenkotter, Huckin, & Ackerman, 1988). Their informed decisions and qualityediting make this volume more than a mere conference proceedings volume.

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

Carol Berkenkotter’s chapter is one of the cornerstones of this volume. Thischapter puts forward interesting questions about conceptualization of genreand generic variation in today’s digital context and draws attention toimportance and status of digital genres and internet-based discursivepractices. 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’sresearch arena. Highlighting the theorist’s stance in conceptualization ofgeneric variation, this innovative chapter focuses on the blog as a risingacademic genre and operationalizes the concept of genre as a “recognitioncategory”.

Vijay Bhatia’s chapter presents a new and different perspective on researcharticle as one of the most-researched academic genres. In contrast to the bulkof research on research articles, which is dedicated to the lexical andrhetorical analysis of different sections of this genre and its evolutionovertime, this chapter focuses on the significance of “ management ofinterdiscursive space” in genre analysis in general and between this genre anddoctoral theses in particular and challenges and complexities of novicescholars for writing for scholarly publication. It highlights social-culturalaspects and functions of genre rather than merely textual ones, drawsattention to underlying differences existent even in similar genres, and asBhatia argues, underlines the significance of a critical approach to genreanalysis. Considering the undeniable significance of scholarly publications inglobal scholarship and “publish or perish” as one of the biggest challengesfor both established and novice academics, this chapter provides invaluableinsights for those interested in the research and pedagogy of writing forscholarly publication.

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

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

Starfield, Paltridge, and Ravioli’s chapter is also one of the strongercontributions in this volume. The research reported in their chapter isnoteworthy in terms of its methodological approach. In spite of thetraditional approach to genre analysis in which written discourse was the solesource of data, this study adopts an investigative approach combining textanalysis and ethnographic methods to investigate a student-generated genre,i.e., practice-based theses, in relatively new fields of visual and performingarts. Attention to data triangulation through drawing on mixed data collectionmethods such as survey, interview, and document analysis and longitudinalnature of this study make the findings and implications of this researchparticularly relevant.

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

Maria Jose Luzon’s research into academic blogs, as a genre of growingpopularity with academics, is also one of the must –reads in this volume.Unlike most traditional genre studies, it focuses on an Internet-mediatedgenre 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 studyexamines graphic commentaries of visuals as a hybrid, unresearched genre inapplied linguistics. Second, the study adopts a mixed-methods approach(combining discourse-based and corpus-informed methodology). The combinationof quantitative and qualitative methods and tools into innovative methods anddesigns is an interesting feature of Giannoni’s, Mazzi’s, and Sancho-Guinda’sstudies 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 seemsdifficult, 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 oralacademic 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 ofthis volume.

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


Berkenkotter, C., Huckin, T. N., & Ackerman, J. (1988). Conventions,conversations, and the writer: Case study of a student in a rhetoric Ph.D.program. Research in the Teaching of English, 22(1), 9-44.

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. Papergiven at the Fourth International Symposium on Genre Studies, Unusual, Brazil.

Blommaert, J. (2005). Discourse. A Critical Introduction. Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press.

Ede, L. S. (1989). Work in Progress: A Guide to Writing and Revising. NewYork: St. Martin’s Press.

Goffman, E. (1971). Relations in Public. New York: Harper & Row.

Hyland, K. (2005). Stance and Engagement: A Model of Interaction in AcademicDiscourse. Discourse Studies, 7(2), 173-192.

Swales, J. M. (1990). Genre Analysis: English in Academic and ResearchSettings. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press.

Swales, J. M. (1998a). Textography: Toward a Contextualization of WrittenAcademic Discourse. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 31(1),109-121.

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

Swales, J. M. (2004). Research Genres: Explorations and Applications. NewYork: Cambridge University Press.

Van Eemeren, F. H., & Grootendorst, R. (1992). Argumentation, Communicationand Fallacies. A Pragma-Dialectical Perspective. Hillsdale, N.J.; LawrenceErlbaum Associates.


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

Page Updated: 19-Jul-2013