Document Type : research paper


1 University of Qom

2 English Translation Department, Humanities Faculty, Hazrat-e Masoumeh University, Qom, Iran

3 English Department, University of Qom


Recent research favors specific academic word lists over a general academic word list for preparing university students to read and publish academic papers in English. Although researchers have developed word lists for various disciplines, some academic fields do not enjoy a well-developed technical word list. The present study aimed at developing and evaluating a specific academic word list for political sciences. A 3.5-million-word corpus of political sciences research articles was created and analyzed in order to develop the Politics Academic Word List (PAWL). The list consists of 2000 word families which were selected across and beyond the BNC/COCA word list based on frequency and range criteria. The word families enjoying an aggregate frequency of a hundred or more in the corpus and a minimum frequency of 10 in at least four of the seven sub-corpora were incorporated into the word list. The PAWL accounted for over 88% of the running words in the Politics Academic Corpus (PAC) and outperformed the list of GSL plus AWL words in coverage by 3 percent, despite containing 556 fewer word families. The study corroborates the value of a subject specific word list as a more fruitful source for academic vocabulary learning. Pedagogical implications and suggestions for further research are discussed.


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