Oscar Alberto Morales, Bexi Perdomo, Daniel Cassany, Rosa María Tovar, Élix Izarra
May 12, 2020
Titles play an important role in genre analysis. Cross-genre studies show that research paper and thesis titles have distinctive features. However, thesis and dissertation titles in the field of dentistry have thus far received little attention. Objective : To analyze the syntactic structures and their functions in English-language thesis and dissertation titles in dentistry. Methodology : We randomly chose 413 titles of English-language dentistry theses or dissertations presented at universities in 12 countries between January 2000 and June 2019. The resulting corpus of 5,540 running words was then analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively, the two complementary focuses being grammatical structures and their functions. Results : The average title length was 13.4 words. Over half of the titles did not include any punctuation marks. For compound titles, we found that colons, dashes, commas, and question marks were used to separate the different components, colons being the most frequent. Four syntactic structures (nominal phrase, gerund phrase, full-sentence, and prepositional phrase) were identified for single-unit titles. Single-unit nominal phrase titles constituted the most frequent structure in the corpus, followed by compound titles. Four particular rhetorical combinations of compound title components were found to be present throughout the corpus. Conclusions : Titles of dentistry theses and dissertation in English echo the content of the text body and make an important contribution to fulfilling the text’s communicative purposes. Thus, teaching research students about the linguistic features of thesis titles would be beneficial to help them write effective titles and also facilitate assessment by teachers.