Engagement patterns in research article introductions: A cross-disciplinary study

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This study attempts to explore the ways in which academics from four different disciplinary backgrounds (applied linguistics, education, electrical engineering, biology) engage with their discourse community when writing their research article (RA) introductions. To this end, 200 RA introductions were selected and examined in detail along with the Engagement System of the Appraisal Framework. It adopts a mixed approach to analyze individual engagements as well as combined ones embedded in different move-steps of RA introductions across various disciplines. Moreover, co-articulation of engagement items across longer stretches of text was also qualitatively observed for the purpose of revealing how prosodic spread of engagement values helps to effectively fulfill the rhetorical functions within this part-genre. This research revealed clear function-form mappings between rhetorical move-steps and their linguistic realization. In addition, disciplinary uniformity and variation on engagement values encoded in introductions were disclosed with commonalities weighing over differences. Despite the disciplinary differences on the evaluative features between natural and social sciences, disciplines belonging to either set of the natural/social field also vary from one another. The results have pedagogical implications for EAP practitioners in raising the novice writers’ awareness of both discipline and genre when they approach academic writing through evaluative resources.

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