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Crossed Words: Criticism in Scholarly Writing

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Edited By Françoise Salager-Meyer and Beverly Lewin

In order for science to advance, previous research findings must be reviewed and criticized. However, conveying criticism is particularly difficult for scientists who must, at the same time, try to maintain an impersonal stance. This co-edited collection of independent studies written by scholars from many different countries addresses the thorny issue of criticism in science through discourse analysis of written scientific texts.
The research reported in this volume deals with questions such as: 1) how criticism is conveyed by various linguistic communities, such as Serbian, French, Spanish, German and English; 2) how criticism is handled in various genres, with examples drawn from book reviews, referees’ reports, research articles, editorials, and review/meta-analysis papers; 3) the extent to which criticism is influenced by academic discipline, with findings from linguistics, economics, biology, business, musicology, chemistry, literary research, medicine, and physics, and 4) the impact interpersonal considerations have on the linguistic realization of criticism.
The conclusions reached by these contributions have implications for both the academic world and society at large in the sense that a fuller understanding of how criticism is expressed will help in the education of future scholars and in the understanding of the social construction of knowledge.

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TRINE DAHL / KJERSTI FLØTTUM Wrong or Just Different? How Existing Knowledge Is Staged to Promote New Claims in English Economics and Linguistics Articles 1. Introduction In our research, how much more might be learned if we think of theory not as static structures to be demolished or assertions to be falsified, but a set of understandings to be questioned and shaped. (Tannen, 2002: 1666) Deborah Tannen (2002) is critical of the ritualised demolitionary purpose that she ascribes to western public and academic communica- tion and calls for a new approach to how knowledge fields move forward (see also Ventola 1998 on the textual strategies she calls align- ment and bashing). Replacing battlefield or boxing match metaphors with others describing communal efforts may prove much more fruitful in advancing new understanding. While agreeing with Tannen that the underlying ideology in academic communication seems to be agonism, we also see criticism of others’ work as an important part of the strategy in building one’s own case, so to speak. At least, this seems to be true for the (part) genre that we are looking at in this chapter, the research article introduction. Rather than seeing the introduction as a stage with two or more combatants fighting it out, we might consider it as the textual site where one protagonist (the writer) attempts to attract the spectators’ (readers’) attention and approval by showing off his or her own good qualities, to some extent through pointing out weaknesses or shortcomings of other...

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