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Academic style and format of doctoral theses: The case of the disappearing discussion chapter

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Author(s): Elaine Hewitt | Ángel Felices Lago

Journal: Ibérica
ISSN 1139-7241

Volume: 19;
Start page: 119;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: genre analysis | discussion chapter | thesis writing | intervening variables | advanced academic literacy

ABSTRACT
This article describes work carried out within the sphere of analysis of university academic discourse that possibly contains an intercultural comparative element. A hypothesis was put forward that when Spanish doctoral students crafted their theses, they would pass over the Discussion chapter and progress directly on to the Conclusions. The propensity for Spanish doctoral students to miss out discussion of the results in their doctoral theses was noticed by the first author, while supervising her own doctoral students’ empirical Ph.D. theses in the field of English Studies in Spain. It was thought that this oversight may indicate intercultural variation in the preferences of format for different writing cultures. The initial corpus consisted of sixteen theses from the field of English Studies. At a second stage, an additional corpus of thirty-nine theses in the field of Spanish Studies was included. Both corpora had been defended in these two areas in Spanish universities over the last 10 years and were full-text theses from a Spanish national data base: Dialnet. The results confirmed the hypothesis in both corpora with students in Spanish universities. Nevertheless, curiously, a number of further intervening variables were also found to be essential. For the theses from the area of Spanish Studies less divergence was encountered but, on the other hand, evidence was found that may even point to a lingering influence of national or educational rhetoric.
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