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32 Seiten, Note: 1,0
1. The Genre “Abstract”
1.2. Communicative Purposes
1.3. Discourse Community (Audience)
2. Mini Corpus
3. Teaching Situation
4. Linguistic Analysis
4.1. Steps Taken, Insights Gained and Problems Encountered
4.2. Linguistic Results
4.2.1. Austrian Abstracts
184.108.40.206. Move Structure
220.127.116.11. Lexico-Grammatical Features
18.104.22.168. Text Patterns
4.2.2. American Abstracts
22.214.171.124. Move Structure
126.96.36.199. Lexico-Grammatical Features
188.8.131.52. Text Patterns
5. Pedagogical Applications
7. Appendix: Detailed references of exemplary texts
An abstract is an important text type of academic and scientific discourse. Basically, it is a condensed version, i.e. a concise summary or description of the content of a longer document, in particular a report of a completed scientific research presented and published, for example, in the form of journal articles, research papers, scientific presentations, as well as MA or PhD theses. Usually following set textual patterns, an abstract briefly presents the major points covered in the paper (e.g. the field, content, purposes/objectives, methods, results and conclusions of the research project), without mentioning any details.
Abstracts can either form an independent text, especially when they appear in an online-database, or a dependent text, especially when they form part of the actual paper, immediately after the title page. An abstract usually consists of one to four or five paragraphs (200-350 words, depending on the length of the paper), and a list of 5-15 keywords listed in alphabetical order. If the article is in a language other than English, the abstract is written in that language and also in English, which is the international language of science.
The main communicative purposes of abstracts are…
- …informing the readers about the general content as well as the main aims, methods, results and conclusions of the study and/or paper.
- …convincing the readers to read or purchase the paper.
- …helping the readers to decide whether it is relevant for them to read or purchase the paper.
- …preparing the readers to understand the full text more easily and better by giving them an overview of the paper.
- …helping the readers to remember the key issues and findings of the respective research.
- …allowing documentalists to classify, categorize and find papers more easily through the use of key words and indexing.
The type of audience largely depends on the respective scientific field. In this paper, the focus is on abstracts of PhD theses in marketing, and therefore, the main audience are…
- …business or marketing researchers and professionals who are engaged in or interested in the respective topic;
- …documentalists, e.g. publishers of business papers databases, who need to decide which theses to include without having to read them in full;
- …marketing conference organizers, who have to compile a programme for a conference at which such theses are presented;
- …attendees of such conferences who may want to have some information of what is going to be dealt with;
- …on a more general level, any person interested in business or marketing may be included in the audience.
This paper focuses on two sets of business PhD theses abstracts dealing with different aspects of marketing. All of them are about ½-¾ of a page (one to four paragraphs) in length and written in English. 15 are taken from a German-speaking context with English as L2, namely from the Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien (Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration), while the other 15 are taken from different US universities, i.e. a context in which English is L1. For the Austrian abstracts I consulted the Österreichische Dissertationsdatenbank, and for the American ones the ProQuest database for digital dissertations and theses. For detailed references see appendix.
“Workshop: teaching marketing PhD candidates to write theses abstracts
in English as a foreign language”
An Austrian university of business and economics offers a voluntary workshop for marketing PhD candidates in which they acquire the necessary knowledge to write abstracts in English as a foreign language for their PhD theses. However, taking into account that the genre conventions of abstracts also largely apply to MA theses abstracts, the teaching situation and strategy (see chapter 5) do not necessarily have to be restricted to PhD students, but may also be used for the teaching of abstract writing to marketing MA students.
As a first step of my investigative procedure, I selected the genre (i.e. marketing abstracts) and came up with a possible teaching situation (cf. chapter 3) and the potential group of learners (PhD candidates). Moreover, I decided to focus on two sets of such abstracts in order to be able to compare them and find out if there are any significant differences (mainly in terms of move structure, lexico-grammatical features and textual patterns) between abstracts that were at first written in German and then translated into English and abstracts that were originally written in English. Moreover, I found it also worth considering in which way(s) any potential differences could have an impact on the teaching situation.
Then I compiled my mini-corpus by collecting 15 Austrian and 15 American abstracts. The texts were very easily available via the above-mentioned online databases. Following this, I defined the genre “abstract” with its communicative purposes and potential discourse community (see chapter 1).
The major work of my project paper consisted in the linguistic analysis, which was however, not too difficult or demanding because we had been given detailed instructions on how to do it effectively:
The first step of the analysis was to identify the typical moves of these texts, which was quite easy and quickly done because almost all abstracts had a very clear move structure. Interestingly, I immediately realized that there was a significant difference between the two sets of abstracts in terms move structure: in general, each of the sets followed a specific move pattern (for a close description see 184.108.40.206. for the Austrian abstracts and 220.127.116.11. for the American ones respectively). However, step 2 (lexico-grammatical features) and step 3 (text patterns) of the analysis did not confirm this difference between the Austrian and American abstracts – on the whole, both sets actually shared the same characteristics on these two levels.
For step 2 (analysis of lexico-grammatical features), I compared my mini-corpus with a reference corpus (BNC) by using the concordancing programme WordSmith Tools. For me, this step was actually the most complicated one because the programme did not always work properly. Nevertheless, the results of this analysis proved to be quite helpful and gave me a solid insight into the typical lexical and grammatical characteristics of marketing abstracts (see 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124. respectively), and showed that both sets of abstracts actually were very similar in this respect.
Lastly, I tried to apply my results to the conceived teaching situation. Before starting to work on my project, I had actually thought that it was easy to find a vast array of teaching materials which I could use as points of reference or of critical comparison for my own teaching procedure. However, this turned out to be an illusion: of course, both in the library as well as on the internet, there are many papers about linguistic analyses of abstracts available. Moreover, there are innumerable online guides on how to write an abstract, but unfortunately, I could not find any useful teaching material. Thus, I came up with my own teaching strategy (see chapter 5), which is based on the following linguistic analysis.
The typical move structure of the Austrian abstracts basically mirrors Bhatia’s (1993) four-move structure for abstracts, which consists of the following moves and their respective communicative purposes:
1. Obligatory move 1: “Introducing purpose”
- Announcing the present research project and outlining its main aims and objectives.
2. Obligatory move 2: “Describing methodology”
- Explaining the approach, theoretical model, procedure, materials etc. used for carrying out research or a particular study.
3. Obligatory move 3: “Summarizing results”
- Outlining the main findings of the research project or study.
4. Obligatory move 4: “Presenting conclusion”
- Discussing the results and their relevance or implications for the general field or further research.
However, in contrast to Bhatia’s model, about 75% of the Austrian abstracts include an additional core move either before or directly after the obligatory move 1, namely “Setting the context” This move is realized by at least one of the following sub-moves:
- Introducing the particular field or branch of marketing this research belongs to;
- Summarizing previous research which this one continues or extends (e.g. by filling a gap).
The following results and their possible functions or implications are the overall tendencies of the lexico-grammatical features of the abstracts under investigation. In general, they indicate that the majority of the abstracts meet the requirements of academic writing in terms of grammar, and that their lexis is typical for the fields of “business” and “marketing.”
For the lexical analysis I only worked with the positive keywords because there was only one negative one, namely numbers. Thus, I concluded that abstracts generally do not contain numbers because concrete figures are probably too detailed for a summary, and therefore only appear in the actual paper. After having had a close look at both the word list and the positive keywords, I came up with the following general lexical features of the marketing abstracts:
- Dominance of technical terms (also used in typical collocations or phrases) from the lexical fields “business” in general and “marketing” in particular, which illustrates the possible topics of marketing abstracts:
- ingredient/product brand
- brand strength/evaluation/research/preference/image/equity
- business technology/contexts/forms/model/objectives/transactions/results
- company profits/policy/internal data
- innovative/leading European consulting/European/industry leading companies
- consumer value/panel/data/behavior/perspective/wants and needs/analysis
- consumers’ quality judgments/attitudes towards/perceptions of
- customers’ willingness
- customer satisfaction/complaints
- ingredient brand research/marketing industry
- wealth/music/pharmaceutical management
- financial/online auction/saturated/coffee store/pharmacy/health-care market
- market differentiation/analysis/segmentation
- free market economy
- marketing mix/instruments/tool/industry/decisions/perspective/strategies/implications/
- service/target group marketing
- final/retail price
- price building/acceptance
- end product
- product quality/design/features/category/customization/expertise/involvement/brand
- purchase decision (-making) process/phenomenon/intention(s)
- car purchase
- Specific “synonymous” semi-technical nouns and verbs (also used in collocations or phrases) appearing in the four different obligatory moves:
Move 1: “Introducing purpose”
- purpose, aim, objective, goal, focus
- dissertation, thesis, paper, work. research, study
- to aim to, to intend to, to deal with, to focus on
- to examine, to investigate, to study, to analyze, to measure
- to assess, to evaluate, to test
- to explore, to address, to identify, to explain, to discuss, to compare
Move 2: “Describing methodology”
- method, methodology
- to be used, to be utilized, to be employed, to be applied
- [empirical/consumer/company internal] data
- to be gathered, to be collected, to be obtained
- to be analyzed, to be evaluated, to be interpreted
- [conceptual/benchmark/theoretical/quality/business/strategic] model
- to be set up, to be devised, to be designed, to be developed, to be established
- to be used, to be utilized, to be employed, to be applied, to be tested
- scientific/theoretical/descriptive/empirical/quantitative/qualitative study etc.
- market(ing)/brand/consumer behavior
- thorough/underlying study etc.
- to be conducted, to be carried out
- analysis method/scheme
- research methods/agenda/area/conception/project/questions/activities
- past/previous/prior/future/further/limited/advertising/operations research
Move 3: “Summarizing results”
- [empirical] results/findings
- to show, to indicate, to demonstrate, to illustrate
- to reveal, to uncover
- to explain, to propose
- to prove, to confirm, to support, to provide evidence, to emphasize
Move 4: “Presenting conclusion”
- conclusion(s), consequences, implications, recommendations
- practical/concrete consequences etc.
- to provide conclusion(s) etc.
- to have consequences/implications for
- to be/provide a contribution to
- to contribute to
- Frequent use of the demonstratives “this” or “these” to refer directly to the paper or research at hand and its components (e.g. “this dissertation” or “these results”).
- No use of 1st and 2nd person personal pronouns in order not to refer to the author or researcher or to address the reader directly and thus, to emphasize the objective, impersonal and factual character of the research project as well as of the academic writing style.
 Internet address of the Österreichische Dissertationsdatenbank: http://media.obvsg.at/dissdb
 Internet address of the ProQuest database: http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?RQT=302&COPT=REJTPUcyOD
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