Evaluative that constructions: Signalling stance in research abstracts

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The study of interpersonal features of academic texts, through which writers evaluate their material and engage their readers, has been one of the most productive areas of discourse studies of the past decade. Scholarly writing involves adopting a position and persuading readers of claims, and the linguistic resources used to achieve these goals have been described in terms of evaluation, stance and metadiscourse. A relatively overlooked interpersonal feature however is what we shall call evaluative that constructions, a structure which allows a writer to thematize attitudinal meanings and present an explicit statement of evaluation by presenting a complement clause within a super-ordinate clause. In this paper we explore the disciplinary variations in the frequencies, forms and functions of evaluative that structures in 240 research article abstracts from six disciplines. We find that this structure is widely employed in these abstracts, about once every five sentences, and is an important means of providing author comment and evaluation. Evaluative that therefore helps writers to manage their discourse in various ways and to signal a clear stance towards the information they present.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-63
Number of pages25
JournalFunctions of Language
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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