Modals in the construction of research articles : A cross-disciplinary perspective

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

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Author(s)

  • Matthew Peacock

Related Research Unit(s)

Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-164
Number of pages22
Journal / PublicationIberica
Issue number27
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Abstract

This paper describes a corpus-based analysis of variation in the distribution and function of modals and their role in the expression of "stance" in a corpus of 600 research articles (RAs) across twelve disciplines. Stance is an expression of attitudes, judgments, or assessments towards the truth of propositions (Biber et al., 1999), and part of the important function of claiming and confirming membership of discourse communities and therefore in constructing identity. Three functional categories of modals perform a valuable role in the construction of stance: Possibility/Ability, Obligation/Necessity, and Prediction (Biber et al., 1999). However, very little research seems to have investigated variation across disciplines or their use in the RA. The corpus was analysed using Word Smith Tools (Scott, 2004), followed by manual checking of the function of every occurrence. Inter-and intra-rater agreement was also checked. Many statistically significant disciplinary differences were found, along with numerous marked differences with individual modals. Further examination of the corpus revealed considerable disciplinary variation in the patterns and verbs associated with the target modals, and a number of sub-functions of the topics covered by the modals Conclusions are that modals perform an important role in the construction of stance.

Research Area(s)

  • modals, corpus analysis, English for Specific Purposes, genre analysis, research articles, STANCE

Citation Format(s)

Modals in the construction of research articles : A cross-disciplinary perspective. / Peacock, Matthew.

In: Iberica, No. 27, 2014, p. 143-164.

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