Writer's positioning in literature reviews in English and Spanish computing doctoral theses

Autores UPV
Revista Journal of English for Academic Purposes


Making appropriate reference to other texts is an essential feature of successful academic writing (Hyland, 2000; Myers, 1990). Writers are expected to integrate others' ideas into their arguments to indicate what is already known about the area of study of the discipline, or to point out weaknesses, aligning themselves with a particular disciplinary framework (Thompson & Tribble, 2001). Literature reviews (LRs) of PhD theses provide support for the writer's position and show the novelty of her/his work. This study analysed the resources of evaluation at both rhetorical and linguistic levels used by the writers of 20 PhD LRs in computing in English and Spanish. The data reveal that the Spanish and the English PhD LRs have a similar rhetorical structure. However, the English writers use more strategies for the development of each move than the Spanish writers. Attitude markers are the most usual devices doctoral writers use to express opinion in both sets. Epistemic modality and a variety of discourse-based markers are typically found in the English LRs while the Spanish LRs seem to rely mainly on adversatives and certainty markers. Differences respond partly to individual writing styles, but also reflect rhetorical variation in the relationship with the audience.