Textual Engagement of Native English Speakers in Doctoral Dissertation Discussion Sections

Document Type: Research Article


Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Letters and Humanities, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran


Academic writing is no longer considered an objective and impersonal form of discourse. It is now seen as an attempt involving interaction between writers and readers; hence, academics are not only required to produce texts representing external realities but also to use language to recognize, build, and exchange social relations. The present study aimed to analyze how native English speakers, Ph.D. candidates in TEFL, position their texts intertextually when writing their doctoral dissertation Discussion sections. To this end, 5 Discussion sections were selected and analyzed in detail based on the Engagement subsystem of the appraisal model.  Hence, the type and frequency of every Engagement resource were identified and its functionalities were explicated. Results indicated that the examined writers could easily engage themselves in dialogue with their potential interlocutors. Also, they preferred to limit the possibility of being rejected or challenged by using dialogically contractive Engagement resources almost twice as many as dialogically expansive ones. Moreover, it was found that, although these authors developed their Discussion sections in a dialogistically contractive way, they provided enough space for the consideration of alternative viewpoints.


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