Are we visible? An interdisciplinary data-based study of self-mention in research articles

Mohsen Khedri 1 , 2
  • 1 University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • 2 English Language University of Malaya Petaling Jaya Kuala Lumpur, 50603 Malaysia
Mohsen Khedri

Abstract

Research articles have often materialized through the use of impersonal objective strategies viz. abstract rhetors, passive constructions, and nominalizations. However, intrusive or subjective strategies, such as self-mentions, appear to integrate impersonal structures. As a rhetorical strategy to explicitly portray authorial selves, self-mentions help writers to project themselves into the discourse by marketing themselves and demarcating their original contribution to the field. Here, an interdisciplinary approach was adopted to examine explicit authorial presence in a comparable corpus of 40 research articles in applied linguistics, psychology, environmental engineering, and chemistry by taking into consideration: (i) the frequency of using exclusive first person plural pronouns (we, our, us, and ours); and (ii) the writers’ rhetorical functions of pronoun use. The results showed that there are interdisciplinary variations in the frequency and use of self-reference, particularly once the soft disciplines are set against the hard ones. The differing results across the datasets reflect the susceptibility of authorial presence to the rhetorical cultures conditioned by the discipline to which the writers belong. The current results are expected to broaden our understanding of disciplinary variations towards self-mentions usage in academic writings in the four communities, particularly in the under-researched disciplines of environmental engineering and chemistry.

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