Medical Discourse in Written Contexts
DIDIER CARNET / ANNE MAGNET Editorials: An Intrinsic and/or Extrinsic Genre in Medical Journals 1. Introduction Scientific discourse has been the source of much research endeavour over the past 40 years or so and a constant aim has been to describe it as a constrained and modelised mode of written communication. But this has mainly been evidenced for the research article, which was set up as a genre following Swales’ archetypal studies (1990), and whose aim is to build scientific facts as evidenced by Bazerman (1988), Hopkins / Dudley-Evans (1988); Berkenkotter / Huckin (1995) to name but a few. However, scientific discourse cannot be limited to the research article, even if it is the dominant and most salient genre. It seems of interest to investigate genres which play a lesser part in the construction of scientific fact but interact with or against published articles. Two of the seven genres identified in medical journals (Webber 1994) involve the editor: letters to the editor and editorials, as opposed to research papers, review articles, book reviews, case studies and the news section. These modes of written scientific discourse represent either controversial reactions within the community toward published articles for the former (Carnet / Magnet 2006; Magnet / Carnet in press), or the opening onto new topics sometimes related to new themes of research for the latter (Salager Meyer 2002) or to societal problems at large. Whereas letters to the editor tend to reduce a scientist’s activity to his/her publishing pursuit, editorials aim to...
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