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Discourses and Tales of Grant-Seeking Activity

Academic Writing and Professional Expertise


Haying Feng

Grant seeking – the first step in knowledge production – has been an indispensable part of academic life, yet a challenging task for neophyte as well as veteran scholars. We are always curious about how grant winners compose their abstracts, cite previous work, present their proposed study, and negotiate with gate-keepers behind the scene. Building upon ethnographic data and a large corpus of authentic research grant proposals and grant reviews, this book intends to demystify the grant seeking activity. It is an invaluable resource for grant agencies, grant reviewers and grant writers, particularly novice grant writers and/or non-native English writers.
Discourses and Tales of Grant-Seeking Activity is however more than a resource book. It is one of the few studies that draw upon two genre theories, encompass both quantitative and qualitative research approaches, and unite an exploration of macro-level recurrences in discursive activity and micro-level examinations of individual writers’ agency, positioning, negotiation and identity construction. It enhances our understanding of the development of professional expertise in academia and thus will be of interest to researchers in the fields of academic writing, genre analysis and Language for Specific Purposes (LSP).


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CHAPTER THREE - Window Display: A Corpus-Based Studyof Research Grant Proposal Abstracts - 63


63 CHAPTER 3 Window Display: A Corpus-Based Study of Research Grant Proposal Abstracts 3.1 Introduction This chapter presents a corpus-based study in which the genre of re- search grant proposal abstracts is examined. Research grant proposal abstracts are a genre that, although small, is critical to the scholars’ grant application – the initial step in the process of knowledge production (Berkenkotter & Huckin, 1995). Because of its location at the forefront of the proposal, this genre needs to give peer reviewers and the grant committee a good first impression, to encourage them to read further, and to persuade them, although ‘without seeming to persuade’ (Myers, 1990, p. 42), that the proposed project is worth funding. This first page is therefore more than a statement of intent, or a summary of the main text; rather, it is like goods on display, showing the buyers the sparkling points and encouraging them to make positive decisions. In this sense, it is a genre even more rhetorical than the main texts of the proposals. In spite of its importance, this sub-genre has so far received little atten- tion. Even Connor and her colleagues who have conducted quite a few stu- dies on grant proposals (see a detailed review in Chapter 1) have neglected this sub-genre in their research. As we may note, research grant proposal abstracts and research article abstracts are interrelated genres belonging to the same academic genre system (Bazerman, 1994b), or in Bhatia’s words (2004), under the same ‘genre colony’ of academic introductions. They...

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