COPING WITH DISCIPLINARY VARIATION IN THE ADVANCED ACADEMIC WRITING CLASSROOM
Recent developments in corpus technology have enabled both researchers and practitioners to acquire an ever more sophisticated understanding of the nature of academic text. Amongst the outcomes has been an outpouring of research analyzing how academic writing differs between disciplines and leading to calls for the teaching of academic writing to adopt a more fundamentally disciplinary specific orientation.
For many practitioners however, such a prescription presents a number of problems. The increasingly interdisciplinary nature of much academic study and the hybrid composition of many language classes do not seem to represent an environment that is naturally attuned to the new approach. This is particularly true in the specialized world of postgraduate writing in which students may be engaged in highly individualized research projects. Questions remain also about the precise ways and the extent to which particular disciplines vary from each other, and the extent also to which identifiable generic commonalities between disciplines might still justify a broader ranging approach.
In this presentation, we will present the results of our in-depth analysis of a variety of thesis abstracts from different disciplines, and, from multiple perspectives, and pinpoint both the differences and the commonalities that might be of significance to academic writing instructors. We will conclude by discussing the pedagogical implications of the results.