Year of Study in Programme: Fourth
Supervisor: Dr Sònia Oliver
Area/Topic of Research: Corpus linguistics, cross-cultural studies, academic writing
Title/Provisional Title of Thesis: Metadiscourse and Generic Variations in Academic Book Reviews
Short Abstract: Academic book reviews are unique in that they require reviewers to skillfully merge generic expectations and academic deference. Metadiscourse devices are essential to deal with the socio-pragmatic demands of academic evaluation in book reviews. In spite of this, novice writers are often unaware of the importance of these devices in academic genres. To remedy this limitation, this study has two objectives: 1) to describe cross-linguistic and cross-disciplinary variations in the use of hedges and boosters in academic evaluation; 2) to develop a pedagogic proposal which focuses on metadiscourse and socio-pragmatic phenomena. For this purpose, 24 well-known Spanish, Latin American, British, and American journals in the fields of Medicine, Sociology and Applied Linguistics have been used as the source for a corpus of 120 academic book reviews. After developing separate Spanish-language and English-language taxonomies, we have classified and analyzed the hedges and boosters in each book review. Thus far, our results suggest the following interpretations: 1) A comparable use of hedges to mitigate criticism across disciplines; 2) a lower use of hedged evaluations in Spanish, especially in Latin American journals; 3) cross-disciplinary differences in amplified evaluation, with the highest use of boosters in medicine and the lowest use in sociology. Drawing on these findings, we suggest a set of guidelines for the writing of academic book reviews and potential tasks which may be useful to teach pragmatic phenomena in academic evaluation both in English and Spanish.