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English for Specific Purposes xxx (2010) xxx–xxx


A contrastive study of the rhetorical organisation of English and Spanish PhD thesis introductions
´ Carmen Soler-Monreal *, Marıa Carbonell-Olivares, Luz Gil-Salom
´ ´ ´ ´ Departamento de Linguıstica Aplicada, EscuelaTecnica Superior de Ingenierıa Informatica, Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, ¨´ Camino de Vera s/n, 46022 Valencia, Spain

Abstract This paper presents an analysis of the introductory sections of a corpus of 20 doctoral theses on computing written in Spanish and in English. Our aim was to ascertain whether the theses, produced within the same scientific-technological area but by authors fromdifferent cultural and linguistic backgrounds, employed the same rhetorical strategies to introduce the work presented. The analysis follows the Swalesian approach and is based on a move/step/sub-step model proposed for PhD introductions in Spanish (Carbonell-Olivares, Gil-Salom, & Soler-Monreal, 2009). The Spanish academic conventions appear to be that move 1 (M1-Establishing the Territory) and move 3(M3-Occupying the Niche) are obligatory moves in PhD thesis introductions in Spanish, while move 2 (M2-Establishing the Niche) is optional. The structure of English thesis introductions reveals that they conform more closely to the M1–M2–M3 arrangement. Moreover, combinations of moves and patterns, cyclicity and embedding make their organisation more complex. The step analysis suggests thatintroductions in both languages rely mainly on the presentation of background information and the work carried out. However, the English introductions tend to stress the writer’s own work, its originality and its contribution to the field of study. They also present more embedding and overlapping of steps and sub-steps than the Spanish texts. Ó 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords:Contrastive rhetoric; Intercultural rhetoric; Genre analysis; Doctoral thesis; Introduction; Academic writing; Computing

1. Introduction Contrastive rhetoric (CR) started as linguistic text analysis which aimed to identify problems in essays written by English as a Second Language (ESL) students in university classes due to the interference caused by cultural and linguistic conventions of the writer’sfirst language (Connor, 1996; Kaplan, 1966). The approach was both theoretically-based and pedagogically-oriented. More recently, CR has been re-framed as intercultural rhetoric (Connor, 2004) and refocused on writing for specific purposes (Connor, 2008, p. 303). The analysis of specific purpose genres, such as research articles, research reports, grant proposals, texts for professional purposes andtheses, is a growing area of research and pedagogical endeavour. In addition,

Corresponding author. Tel.: +34 963877530; fax: +34 963877219. E-mail addresses: csoler@upv.es (C. Soler-Monreal), mscarbon@upvnet.upv.es (M. Carbonell-Olivares), mlgil@upv.es (L. Gil-Salom).

0889-4906/$- see front matter Ó 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.esp.2010.04.005 Please cite thisarticle in press as: Soler-Monreal, C. et al., A contrastive study of the rhetorical organisation of English and Spanish PhD thesis introductions, English for Specific Purposes (2010), doi:10.1016/j.esp.2010.04.005

2 C. Soler-Monreal et al. / English for Specific Purposes xxx (2010) xxx–xxx

the field has also begun to include the analysis of the social situation of writing(Connor, 2008, p. 3) and has benefited from a variety of approaches, particularly those from discourse-based, socio-cognitive and ethnographic fields. New directions in CR focus on the processes that lead to the final written products and describe the complexities of the cultural, social, situational and contextual factors affecting writing (Connor, 2004, p. 292; Connor, 2008, p. 304). Although much...