A Genre Analysis of Masters and Doctoral Dissertation Introductions in the Sciences and Social Sciences
Arulandu, Mosharakini (2006) A Genre Analysis of Masters and Doctoral Dissertation Introductions in the Sciences and Social Sciences. Masters thesis, Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Introductory chapters are an integral part of dissertations. However, many postgraduates find it difficult to write them because they only implicitly understand and unconsciously follow the rules, conventions and norms placed by their respective disciplines and institutions. Therefore, comprehension of how to frame and structure the introduction is vital and is made possible by studying the generic structure of Dissertation Introductions (DIs) from various disciplines. This study presents an analysis of 30 Masters and Doctoral DIs from the Science and Social Science disciplines written in English by Malaysian University postgraduates. The study uses a descriptive, non-experimental research that involves a purposive random sampling of 15 Masters and 15 Doctoral theses from public universities. The rhetorical characteristics and linguistic features of fifteen Masters and fifteen Doctoral theses are examined using Bunton’s (2002) Modified Version of Create A Research Space (CARS) model. The results show that the pattern of the studied DIs generally supports Bunton’s macro framework but the specific steps in the introduction are less consistent with the model. Some steps were totally absent from the DIs. Different from Bunton’s samples, none of the Malaysian postgraduates set their research parameters early in the introduction and none evaluated their research products. Findings highlight the feasibility and need for merging some steps and demarcating other steps. Analyses also show that utilisation of Move 1 Step 4, that is, reviewing previous research, appears in all the three moves and is its use was not limited only to Move 1. The functions of Move 1 Step 4 vary according to its placement in a text, that is, it functions differently in different situations according to the writer’s communicative purposes and needs. Comparison of DIs in the Masters and Doctorate degrees revealed the use of similar rhetorical and linguistic strategies and similar registers were evident. However, a comparison of DIs in the Science and Social Sciences revealed that choices of steps and linguistic features are discipline dependent whereby variances such as choice of move, steps and vocabulary are attributed to disciplinary influences, conventional structure of institutional conventions, communicative needs of particular discourse communities, and discipline-dependency of Introductions. A separate model for analysing Science DIs and Social Science DIs is therefore suggested. The results gained from this study can be used to design tasks and materials for teaching writing that focus not only on grammar but also on rhetorical structures and various genres of Introductions.
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