Read between the lines: Evaluative patterns and paces in engineering research article introductions

Jianying Du, Hao Yuan, Qiong Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


Within the appraisal system and the metadiscourse model, we examine engineering writers' evaluative behavior imprinted in research article introductions. Using a combination of in-house script and manual annotation, we explore lexical frequencies, semantic prosodies, and rhetoric constructs in the introductory sections of 100 most cited research articles spreading evenly across ten engineering sub-disciplines. The findings show that engineering research writers tend to provide factual rather than factional evaluations. The evaluative patterns and paces, however, vary due to the writers’ step choices in each move. Despite the ubiquitous positivity bias suggested by the number of positive lexis and sentences, our study finds negative evaluations occur and oscillate between the three moves in the introductions, and often present with purposeful choices of technical details. Meanwhile, the use of attitudinal markers with strong negative values indicates that engineering writers express their criticality rather directly with little concessions and even less dramatization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalEnglish for Specific Purposes
Early online date3 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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