Differences in engagement : A comparison of the strategies used by British and Chinese research article writers

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-134
Journal / PublicationJournal of English for Academic Purposes
Online published11 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


This paper explores the way academics from two different cultural backgrounds engage with their discourse community in published international research articles. The Introduction and Conclusion sections of 30 research articles in the field of applied linguistics were analysed in terms of the Engagement system within Appraisal Theory (Martin & White, 2005), using the UAM Corpus Tool (O’Donnell, 2011). Half of these articles were written by authors who had been educated and were working in the UK, while the other half were by Chinese authors who had been educated and were working in Mainland China or Taiwan. Engagement items in the articles were examined individually (e.g., may) and in combination (e.g., although + may + not). Although the authors shared comparable disciplinary expertise, and all the articles were taken as expert performances, the analyses revealed that the Chinese and British academics used somewhat different engagement strategies, to differing extents, and that the different combinations of engagement items that they used resulted in different interactive effects. The findings are of potential interest to novice research writers and those who support them, and to journal editors and reviewers considering article submissions from around the world.

Research Area(s)

  • Academic discourse, Engagement, Argument, Cultural differences, Chinese writers