Research Article Abstracts and introductions: A Comparative Genre-Based Study of Arabic and English in the Fields of Educational Psychology and Sociology

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


Literature and Languages

Date of Award

Summer 2013


The genre of the research article has attracted the attention of researchers, particularly after the research conducted by Swales (1981). In 1990, Swales introduced the Create a Research Space (CARS) model which consists of three rhetorical moves (i.e. units): Move 1: creating a research territory, Move 2: establishing a niche, and Move 3: occupying the niche. Several studies have applied the CARS model to examine the introduction of the research article (e.g., Anthony, 1999; Samraj, 2002) and others have used it to analyze the abstract (e.g., Lores, 2004; Martin, 2003). In addition to considering the CARS model as the analytical tool for the RA introductions, researchers (e.g. Kafes, 2012; Li, 2011) have used Hyland's (2000) model to capture the rhetorical structure of abstracts. Instead of examining these sections separately, Samraj (2005) argued that the genre of research article will be better understood if attention is switched to exploring the relation between sections. Thus, she examined the relation between abstracts and introductions in two related disciplines, conservation biology and wildlife behavior, and found that they were more related in the former discipline. This dissertation investigates the relationship between research article abstracts and introductions in two disciplines, educational psychology and sociology, and in two languages, Arabic and English. The two analytical tools used were Hyland's (2000) model for the abstracts, and the modified version of the CARS model (Swales, 2004) for the introductions as well as for the abstracts. The results revealed significant variations across languages and across disciplines. Concerning the abstracts, the most frequent moves in all texts were the purpose, method, and product moves. The introduction and conclusion moves were more frequent in the English language. Specifically, the conclusion move was in educational psychology and the introduction move was in sociology. Concerning the examination of the introductions, Arabic texts included fewer instances of Move 2 and Move 3. Also, Move 1 was found to be different across disciplines as it provided background information on the topic in sociology texts in both languages. Yet, in educational psychology, Move 1 presented centrality claims and topic generalizations, as traditionally prescribed in the CARS model. Finally, regarding the relation between abstracts and introductions, the results showed that the most shared move between the two sections in both disciplines and both languages was presenting the present work (Move 3) move. Establishing a territory (Move 1) and establishing a niche (Move 2) moves were more related in English compared to Arabic and concurrently was more shared in sociology as opposed to educational psychology. The pedagogical implications are relevant to textbook developers as well as to students, especially nonnative learners.


Lucy Pickering

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities