Topical themes and thematic progression: the “picture” of research articles
Leong, Ping Alvin
Date of Issue2015-04-24
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Language and Communication Centre
Although much has been written about the features of academic writing, there is a lack of research attention on macro issues related to the development of ideas, particularly in the writing of research articles. A concept that is useful in investigating such issues is the Hallidayan notion of theme. However, the thematic structure of research articles has received only modest attention over the years. It is also rare for thematic diagrams to be used even though they can be helpful in clarifying the thematic structure of the text. In this exploratory study, the patterning of topical themes in research articles was investigated using a diagrammatic approach. Twenty biology-related research articles were divided into t-units and analyzed for topical themes. Thematic diagrams were generated for all the articles. The diagrams revealed a progressive thematic pattern in the introduction sections of all the articles. At the whole-text level, an anchored-development pattern was observed in the majority of the articles. These findings suggest that research articles at the macro level share similarities in their thematic structure. They also shed light on how authors achieve focus in the writing through the systematic use of clause-initial elements.
Text & Talk
© 2015 De Gruyter. This paper was published in Text & Talk and is made available as an electronic reprint (preprint) with permission of De Gruyter. The paper can be found at the following official DOI: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/text-2015-0001]. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.