Cross-Sectional Diachronic Corpus Analysis of Stance and Engagement Markers in Three Leading Journals of Applied Linguistics

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Department of Languages, Tabriz Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tabriz, Iran

2 Department of English Language and Literature, Islamic Azad University, Maragheh, Iran

3 Islamic Azad University, Tabriz Branch


Thanks to recent developments in metadiscourse studies, it is now increasingly accepted that metadiscourse practices are closely related to social activities, cognitive styles and epistemological beliefs of academic communities. Despite widespread interest and research among applied linguists to explore metadiscourse use, very little is known of how metadiscourse resources have evolved over time in response to the historically developing practices of academic communities. Motivated by such an ambition, the current research drew on a corpus of 4.3 million words taken from three leading journals of applied linguistics in order to trace the diachronic evolution of stance and engagement markers across four different sections of research articles (Introduction, Method, Result, Discussion/ Conclusion) from 1996 to 2016. Hyland’s (2005b) model of metadiscourse was adopted for the analysis of the selected corpus. The data were explored using concordance software AntConc (Anthony, 2011). Moreover, a Chi-Square statistical measure was run to determine statistical significances. The analysis revealed a significant decline in the overall frequency of metadiscourse resources in all sections of RAs. Interestingly, this decrease was entirely due to the overall decline in the use of stance markers particularly in result and method sections. It might be argued that, diachronic perspective on metadiscourse contributes to teachers and novice writers’ awareness of the malleability of academic writing and its sensitivity to context as well as providing access to current practices for the creation and delivery of teaching materials in EAP courses.


Article Title [Persian]

مطالعه تاریخی و بین بخشی نشانگرهای موضع و تعامل در سه مجله معتبر رشته زبان شناسی کاربردی

Authors [Persian]

  • شیرین رضایی کرامتی 1
  • داوود کوهی 2
  • مهناز سعیدی 3

Keywords [Persian]

  • زبانشناسی کاربردی
  • تاریخی
  • تعامل
  • فراگفتمان
  • موضع
Ädel, A. (2006). Metadiscourse in L1 and L2 English. Amsterdam: John


Anthony, L. (2011). AntConc 3.4.3.

Atkinson, D. (1999). Scientific discourse in sociohistorical context. Mahwah,

       NJ: Erlbaum.

Ayers, G. (2008). The evolutionary nature of genre: An investigation of the  short texts accompanying research articles in the scientific journal Nature. English for Specific Purposes27(1), 22-41.

Banks, D. (2008). The development of scientific writing. Linguistic features and historical context. London: Equinox.

Becher, T. & Trowler, P.R. (2001). Academic Tribes and Territories. Intellectual enquiry and the culture of disciplines. Buckingham: Open  University Press.

Biber, D., & Gray, B. (2011). Grammatical change in the noun phrase: The influence of written language use. English Language &Linguistics15(2),  223-250.

Chaudron, C. (2001). Progress in language classroom research: Evidence  from The Modern Language Journal, 1916–2000. The Modern Language  Journal, 85, 57–76.

Crismore, A. (1989). Talking with readers: metadiscourse as rhetorical act. New York: Peter Lang.

Davies, A., & Elder, C. (Eds.). (2004). The handbook of applied linguistics.  Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Ellis, R. (2012). Language teaching research and language pedagogy. Malden, MA: Wiley- Blackwell.

Gillaerts, P. (2013). Move analysis of abstracts from a diachronic  perspective: A case study. Of butterflies and birds, of dialects and genres,49.

Gillaerts, P. (2014). Shifting metadiscourse: Looking for diachrony in the

       abstract genre. In M. Bondi, & R. Lor_es Sanz (Eds.), Abstracts in

        academic discourse: Variation and change (pp. 271-286). Bern:

          Peter Lang.

Gillaerts, P., & Van de Velde, F. (2010). Interactional metadiscourse in research article abstracts. Journal of English for Academic Purposes9(2), 128-139.

Harris, Z. (1959). The transformational model of language structure. Anthropological Linguistics, 1(1), 27-29.

Harwood, N. (2005a). “We do not seem to have a theory . . . The theory I   present here attempts to fill this gap”: Inclusive and exclusive pronouns  in academic writing. Applied Linguistics, 26, 343-375.

Harwood, N. (2005b). “Nowhere has anyone attempted . . .. In this article I aim to do just that”: A corpus- based study of self-promotional I and we  in academic writing across four disciplines. Journal of Pragmatics, 37, 1207-1231.

Hyland, K (1998a). Hedging in scientific research articles. Amsterdam: John


Hyland, K. (1999a). Talking to students: Metadiscourse in introductory 

         textbooks. English for Specific Purposes, 18(1), 3-26.

Hyland, K. (1999b). Academic attribution: Citation and the construction of

          disciplinary knowledge. Applied Linguistics, 20, 341-367.

Hyland, K. (2001a). Humble servants of the discipline? Self-mention   research articles. English for Specific Purposes, 20, 207-226.

Hyland, K. (2001b). Bringing in the reader: addressee features in academic writing. Written Communication. 18. 549-574.

Hyland, K. (2002a). Directives: Argument and engagement in academic writing. Applied Linguistics, 23, 215-239.

Hyland, K. (2002b). Options of identity in academic writing. ELT Journal, 56, 351- 358.

Hyland, K. (2002c). Genre: Language, context, and literacy. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 22, 113-135.

Hyland, K. (2002d). Specificity revisited: How far should we go now?

           English for Specific Purposes, 21, 385–395.

Hyland, K. (2002e). Activity and evaluation: Reporting practices in academic

      writing. In J. Flowerdew (Ed.), Academic discourse (pp. 115-130). White

      Plains, NY: Longman.

Hyland, K. (2004). Disciplinary discourses. Social interactions in academic

       writing. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press.

Hyland, K. (2005a). Metadiscourse: Exploring Interaction in Writing. London: Continuum.

Hyland, K. (2005b). Stance and engagement: A model of interaction in academic discourse. Discourse studies7(2), 173-192.

Hyland, K., & Tse, P. (2004). Metadiscourse in academic writing: A reappraisal. Applied Linguistics, 25(2), 156–177.

Hyland, K., & Salager-Meyer, F. (2008). Scientific writing. Annual review of information science and technology42(1), 297.

Hyland, K., & Jiang, F. (2016a). Change of attitude? A diachronic study of  stance. Written Communication33(3), 251-274.

Hyland, K., & Jiang, F. K. (2016b). “We must conclude that…”: A diachronic study of academic engagement. Journal of English for Academic Purposes24, 29-42.

Hyland, K., & Jiang, F. K. (2018a). “In this paper we suggest”: Changing

         patterns of disciplinary metadiscourse. English for Specific

         Purposes51, 18-30.

Hyland, K., & Jiang, F. K. (2018b). Changing patterns of self-citation: cumulative inquiry or self-promotion? Text & Talk38(3), 365-387.

 Jiang, F., & Wang, F. (2018). ‘This is because…’: Authorial practice of (un) attending this in academic prose across disciplines. Australian Journal of Linguistics38(2), 162-182.

Kaplan, R. B. (2002). The Oxford handbook of applied linguistics. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Knorr-Cetina, K. (1981). The manufacture of knowledge: An essay on the  constructivist and contextul nature of science. Oxford: Pergamon.

Kuhi, D. (2014). Commodified discourses, commodifying discourses: In pursuit of a theoretical model on the constitutive functioning of academic discourse in marketization of higher education. Journal of Applied  Linguistics and Discourse Analysis, 2(1), 39–62.

Kuhi, D. & Dustsadigh, Z. (2012). A cross-cultural diachronic study on hedging devices diversity in chemistry research articles. Paper presented at the Second International Conference on Foreign Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo.

Kuhi, D. & Mousavi, Z. (2015). A diachronic study of interpersonality in  research article discussion section: The field of applied linguistics. International Journal of Research in Humanities and Social Studies, 2(4), 6–13.

Law, J., & Williams, R. J. (1982). Putting facts together: A study of scientific  persuasion. Social studies of science12(4), 535-558.

Li, L. J., & Ge, G. C. (2009). Genre analysis: Structural and linguistic  evolution of the English-medium medical research article (1985– 2004). English for Specific Purposes28(2), 93-104.

Master, P. (2005). Research in English for Specific Purposes. In Hinkel, E  (ed), Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning. (pp. 123-140).  Routledge.

Nwogu, K. N. (1997). The medical research paper: Structure and functions . English for Specific Purposes,16(2), 119–138.

Salager-Meyer, F. (2001). From self-highlightedness to self-effacement: a  genre-based study of the socio-pragmatic function of criticism in medical discourse. LSP and professional communication (2001-2008)1(2).

Schmitt, N. (2002). An introduction to applied linguistics. New York: Arnold.

Stapleton, P., & Shao, Q. (2018). Research in language teaching over two decades: A retrospective of the first 20 volumes of Language Teaching Research. Language Teaching Research22(3), 350-369.

Trowler, P. (2012). Disciplines and academic practices. In P. Trowler, M.  Saunders, & V. Bamber (Eds.), Tribes and territories in the 21st century (pp.30–38). London: Routledge

Trowler, P. (2014). Academic Tribes and Territories: the theoretical trajectory. Österreichische Zeitschrift Für Geschichtswissenschaften, 25(3), 17–26.

Trowler, P., Saunders, M., & Bamber, V. (Eds.). (2012). Tribes and  territories in the 21st century: Rethinking the significance of disciplines in higher education. International studies in higher education, London;New York: Routledge.

Vande Kopple, W. (1985). Some exploratory discourse on metadiscourse. College Composition and Communication, 36, 82-93.

Vande Kopple, W. (2002). Metadiscourse, discourse, and issues in composition and rhetoric. In E. Barton & G. Stygall (Eds.), Discourse studies in composition (pp. 91–113). Cresshill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Wilkins, D. A. (1999). Applied linguistics. In B. Spolsky (Ed.). Concise encyclopedia of educational  linguistics (pp. 6-17). Amsterdam:Elsevier.