A Corpus-Based Approach
9. General discussion 209
209 9. General discussion 9.1. Analytical basis The analysis of disciplinary variation in academic writing conducted in this volume is inspired by recent research in applied linguistics as well as the sociology of science. More specifically, it takes on board the literature dealing with academic genres (e.g. Bazerman 1988; Swales 1990, 2004) and the disciplinary cultures that underlie such texts (Becher 1981; Becher/Trowler 2001), with a focus on the wording of evaluative speech acts (Hunston/Thompson 2000) investigated through linguistic corpora and discourse analysis (as in Biber et al. 2004). In this context it is essential to realise that, within academia, each branch of knowledge forms a separate world in terms of “goals, methods and beliefs, [...] conventions, histories or values” (Hyland 2000: 9). A discipline can thus be conceived as a relatively well-established subdivision of academic research with its own norms of enquiry and communication and a minimum degree of recognition from academic institutions and other disciplines. Among the variables that define work carried out by academics there are aspects (whether of the research process, theoretical argumentation, or written presentation stage) to which the parent disciplinary community assigns an interpretation whose polarity reflects its current standards, beliefs and practices. These signal the axiological variables favoured by each discipline within a wider academic value system. As Hyland aptly explains, “what counts as relevant issues, convincing evidence, valid inference and appropriate interpersonal conduct is grounded in disciplinary values transmitted via socialisation and secured through a system of peer judgement. The principal realisation of...
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