English has acquired the status of an international language, especially for science
and technology (e.g., Grabe & Kaplan, 1996; Johns & Dudley-Evans, 1991). As a
result, research articles in English have become one of the main channels for distributing and advancing scientific knowledge among scholars world-wide. In the context
of globalization and increasing international research collaborations, the ability to
read and/or write research articles in English is, thus, crucial for academic and professional success in science and technology. To facilitate the reading and/or writing
of scientific research articles, both native and non-native speakers of English need to
be aware of, among other things, the rhetorical organization conventionally used in
their fields of scientific interest.
In this regard, Swaless (1990) ground-breaking work has generated studies providing valuable insights into the rhetorical structure of individual sections (IMRD)
of research articles in various disciplines. However, certain criticism of this line of
research has been raised. First, move boundaries are semantically determined; lack
of explicit rules for decisions on move boundaries reflects the subjectivity of the judgment (Paltridge, 1994). The absence of rules leads to questions of the reliability and
empirical validity of the analysis. In addition, the implementations of Swales move
analysis by subsequent researchers are limited in many aspects. For instance, many
move-based studies tend to involve a relatively small number of texts (e.g., Peng,
1987; Williams, 1999; Wood, 1982), limiting the generalizability of the results. Moreover, few move-based studies (e.g., Nwogu, 1997; Posteguillo, 1999) have worked
with a representative corpus, thus past claims made by these studies have yet to
be substantiated. Finally, many studies (e.g., Brett, 1994; Hopkins & Dudley-Evans,
1988; Yang & Allison, 2003; Samraj, 2002; Swales & Najjar, 1987) focused only on a
few individual sections of research articles, rendering an incomplete rhetorical
description of the texts. In spite of these limitations, Swales analytical framework
and other researchers work in move analysis have been essential in popularizing
the importance of understanding how research articles are constructed.
The main objective of this study is the identification of the complete rhetorical
structure of biochemistry research articles through the use of Swales move analysis.
To overcome the shortcomings of previous research using move analysis, the study
includes the following procedures. First, a corpus of research articles representing
core journals in biochemistry was compiled; to obtain a more complete description
of research articles, the four sections of the article were included in the research (Section 2.1). Next, to assess the reliability of the move identification, an expert in biochemistry coded a subset of the corpus to identify the rhetorical moves of the four
sections. Then, inter-coder reliability between the author and the expert was analyzed (Section 2.3). Finally, the four sections of the corpus were analyzed for their
rhetorical structure (Section 3). The results of this study provide a basic template
for the structuring of academic writing in biochemistry and may be valuable to readers who perceive themselves as having difficulty in understanding research articles, as
well as to less experienced writers who need assistance when writing for publications
to better meet the international scientific communitys expectations and demands.
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