Rhetorical structural patterns of postgraduate theses abstracts of related disciplines: A genre study

Discourse and Interaction 1 2024


The study of research abstracts has gained significant scholarly attention as part of genre studies due to the communicative importance of abstracts in constructing academic knowledge. This study contributes to the discussion by examining the structural organization and lexico-grammatical features of ninety (90) postgraduate theses abstracts in the disciplines of English Language studies, Literature studies, and Linguistics studies (Ghanaian Languages). The abstracts were purposively sampled from the graduate theses of departments of the School of Languages, the University of Ghana. The data was analyzed using Hyland’s (2000) genre model of research abstracts. The findings reveal that abstracts of English Language studies and Linguistics studies (Ghanaian Languages) are often informative while Literature studies abstracts are more indicative and possess distinct structuring of the moves. The Purpose move (M2) remains obligatory and the Conclusion move (M5) is optional across the disciplines. Also, some lexico-grammatical features in the linguistic choices of scholars in the three disciplines point to evidential differences that mark informative abstracts as varying from indicative abstracts. The study concludes that identifying the discipline-specific function of the abstracts may be the best means to account for variations in abstracts of varying disciplines and calls for the deliberate enculturation of academics into discipline-oriented research writing skills to improve the presentation of research ideas in abstracts.

abstracts; theses; genre; rhetorical moves; language study
Author biography

Kingsley Cyril Mintah

University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana

Kingsley Cyril Mintah, a fellow of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s BECHS-AFRICA project, lectures at the Department of English, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana. His research interests include genre studies, discourse analysis, academic literacies, grammar, and pragmatics.

Address: Kingsley Cyril Mintah, Department of English, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana. [e-mail: kcmintah@ug.edu.gh]


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