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Home Journal Index 2022-1

A Corpus-Based Approach to Teaching Reporting Verbs and Linking Adverbs in Undergraduate Literature Reviews

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Mark Brooke
National University of Singapore, Singapore 


The research applies a corpus linguistics approach to analyse and then teach language specific to the IMRAD (Introduction-Method-Results-Discussion) genre in the Social Sciences, and in particular the literature review section in the field of the Sociology of Sport. Using NVivo 12, corpus analyses of the module’s twelve published articles from ranked journals (13, 777 words), as well as analyses of student drafts (13, 949 words), were conducted and comparisons made. Students’ texts differed considerably in their use of reporting verbs whereas for linking adverbs, students’ range and frequency was relatively similar. With these findings, a teacher-fronted text deconstruction was implemented to raise students’ awareness of the differences. The paper provides evidence from the intervention. Following students’ redrafting of their literature reviews, a second corpus analysis of students’ texts was conducted, and the post-intervention texts (corpus size of 16, 334) compared with the students’ originals and the published articles. Students’ range and coverage ratio of reporting verbs developed considerably to be more similar to the journal articles from the input session. This improvement demonstrates that presenting students with corpus findings, and comparing their texts with published ones, can be effective for student learning of academic writing. 

Corpus linguistics, Introduction-Method-Results-Discussion (IMRAD) genre, linking adverbs, reporting verbs, action research