The use of metadiscourse for knowledge construction in Chinese and English research articles

Congjun Mu*, Lawrence Jun Zhang, John Ehrich, Huaqing Hong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study is to compare the usage of metadiscourse in English and in Chinese research articles (RAs) published in applied linguistics journals and to investigate how metadiscourse may contribute to knowledge construction in RAs. A small corpus in each language was built consisting of 20 journal articles in English and another 20 in Chinese. In order to highlight metadiscourse features, an established model of metadiscourse was adopted to annotate both Chinese and English articles. It was found that there are generally more metadiscourse features in the English sub-corpus than in the Chinese sub-corpus. While both English sub-corpus and Chinese sub-corpus were found to use statistically significantly more interactive metadiscourse resources (organising discourse) than interactional metadiscourse resources (indicating writers' attitude and stance to themselves, text and audience), the English sub-corpus employed statistically significantly more interactional metadiscourse features than the Chinese sub-corpus. Implications of this study are discussed for both English and Chinese academic writing, including the teaching of English writing as a second language (L2).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-148
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of English for Academic Purposes
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Metadiscourse
  • Knowledge construction
  • EAP
  • English research articles
  • Chinese research articles

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