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Academic Vocabulary in Context


David Hirsh

Academic texts present subject-specific ideas within a subject-independent framework. This book accounts for the presence of academic words in academic writing by exploring recurring patterns of function in texts representing different subject areas. The book presents a framework which describes academic word use at the ideational, textual and interpersonal levels. Functional categories are presented and illustrated which explain the role of academic words alongside general purpose and technical terms. The author examines biomedical research articles, and journal articles from arts, commerce and law. A comparable analysis focuses on university textbook chapters. Case studies investigate patterns of functionality within the main sections of research articles, compare word use in academic and non-academic texts reporting on the same research, and explore the carrier word function of academic vocabulary. The study concludes by looking at historical and contemporary processes which have shaped the presence of academic vocabulary in the English lexicon.


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6. Biomedical research articles 89


6. Biomedical research articles This chapter provides insights beyond those gained through analysis of the fly control text by applying the functional framework to three biomedical research articles. For this purpose, the fly control text (Med1) is grouped with two other research articles from The Lancet. The analysis looks for patterns across the three texts in the involve- ment of academic vocabulary in the various functional categories, and relates these patterns to published guidelines for writers provided by The Lancet. Three biomedical research articles (Med1, Med2, Med3) are analysed to gain data on the role of academic vocabulary in terms of the six functional categories across comparable sections of texts. One of the two new texts, Med2, is titled Efficacy of trimethoprim- sulphamethoxazole prophylaxis to decrease morbidity and mortality in HIV-1-infected patients with tuberculosis in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire: a randomised controlled trial (Wiktor et al. 1999). This text concerns the high incidence of opportunistic infection among HIV 1 infected patients with tuberculosis in Africa, and assesses the safety and efficacy of a specific treatment in the prevention of such infections and to decrease rates of associated morbidity and mortality. The other new text, Med3, is titled Urbanisation of yellow fever in Santa Cruz, Bolivia (Van der Stuyft et al. 1999) and concerns the relationship between increased settlement by local people in cities in South America and an increased localised rate of yellow fever. All three texts appear in the same journal, The Lancet, and thus can be assumed to share...

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