Succinct summaries of research methods


English for academic purposes, genre-based analysis, research article introductions, summarising methods, social sciences

How to Cite

Luo, X., & Lim, J. M.-H. (2022). Succinct summaries of research methods: A genre analysis of expert writers’ communicative resources in social sciences. Ibérica, (44), 75–100.


In research writing, one of the challenging questions is about the extent to which methods need to be succinctly summarised in introductory sections. To answer this intriguing question, Swales’ (2004) genre-based analytical framework was used to examine the frequencies of method summaries (MSs) in the research article introductions (RAIs) in two major social science disciplines, namely Ethnic Studies (ES) and Industrial Relations (IR), which have been overlooked in previous studies. Apart from examining expert writers’ recurrent lexico-grammatical resources, semi-structured interviews were conducted with six specialist informants in both disciplines. We have found that the MSs are characterised by the recurrent use of prepositional phrases expressing data sources, cardinal numerals accentuating subjects’ involvement, post-modifying structures describing samples, and verb-infinitive/preposition structures signalling facilitation. IR researchers exhibit a greater propensity to foreground MSs than ES researchers, and the difference is ascribable to the underlying philosophical assumptions behind the adoption of methodological approaches. In our concluding remarks, we (i) demonstrate how findings based on an analysis of salient language resources can help instructors make informed decisions while guiding learners to craft a cogent method summary, and (ii) argue that the information derived from our textual analysis and specialist informants’ inputs can further contribute to our understanding of expert writers’ rhetorical practices across different social science disciplines.


Basturkmen, H. (2012). A genre-based investigation of discussion sections of research articles in dentistry and disciplinary variation. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 11(2), 134-144.

Berkenkotter, C. (2009). A case for historical “wide-angle” genre analysis: A personal retrospective”. Iberica, 18, 10-21.

Bhatia, V. K. (1993). Analysing genre: Language use in professional setting. Longman Publishing.

Biber, D., Connor, U. & Upton, T. A. (2007). Discourse on the move: Using corpus analysis to describe discourse structure. John Benjamins.

Breeze, R. & Dafouz, E. (2017). Constructing complex cognitive discourse functions in higher education: An exploratory study of exam answers in Spanish- and English-medium instruction settings. System, 70, 81-91.

Bryman, A. (2008). Social research methods (3rd ed.) Oxford University Press.

Chahal, D. (2014). Research article introductions in Cultural Studies: A genre analysis exploration of rhetorical structure. The Journal of Teaching English for Specific and Academic Purposes, 2(1), 1-20. file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/54-304-1-PB%20(1).pdf

Cheng, A. (2019). Examining the “applied aspirations” in the ESP genre analysis of published journal articles. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 38, 36-47.

Del Saz-Rubio, M. M. (2011). A pragmatic approach to the macro-structure and metadiscoursal features of research article introductions in the field of Agricultural Sciences. English for Specific Purposes, 30(4), 258-271.

Hornby, A. S. (2015). Oxford advanced learner’s dictionary of current English (9th ed.) Oxford University Press.

Feak, C. B. & J. M. Swales. (2011). Creating contexts: Writing introductions across genres. University of Michigan Press.

Filippin, A. & J. C. van Ours. (2015). “Positive assortative matching: evidence from sports data”. Industrial Relations 54(3): 401-421.

Harwood, N. (2005). “What do we want EAP teaching materials for?” Journal of English for Academic Purposes 4: 149-161.

Hesse-Biber, S. N. & P. Leavy. (2011). The practice of qualitative research (2nd ed.) Sage.

Hirano, E. (2009). Research article introductions in English for Specific Purposes: A comparison between Brazilian Portuguese and English. English for Specific Purposes, 28, 240-250.

Hyland, K. (2002). Authority and invisibility: Authorial identity in academic writing. Journal of Pragmatics, 34, 1091–1112.

Hyland, K. (2006). English for academic purposes: An advanced resource book. Routledge.

Hyland, K. (2019). Metadiscourse: Exploring interaction in writing (2nd ed.). Bloomsbury Academic.

Lim, J. M. H. (2011). Delineating sampling procedures: Pedagogical significance of analysing sampling descriptions and their justifications in TesL experimental research reports. Ibérica, Journal of the European Association of Languages for Specific Purposes, 21, 71-92.

Lim, J, M. H. (2012). elucidating data analysis procedures in research reports on language education: An inquiry into writers’ communicative resources. International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, 2(3), 260-269.

Lim, J. M. H. (2014). expert writers’ descriptions and justifications of research instruments and materials: Using communicative resources to generate promotional effects. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, 11(2), 154-176. <>

Lim, J. M. H. (2017). Writing descriptions of experimental procedures in language education: implications for the teaching of english for academic purposes. English for Specific Purposes, 47, 61-80. <>

Lim, J. M. H. (2019). explicit and implicit justifications of experimental procedures in language education: Pedagogical implications of studying expert writers’ communicative resources. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 37, 34-51. <>

Lim, J. M. H, Loi, C. K., & Hashim, A. (2014). Postulating hypotheses in experimental doctoral dissertations on applied linguistics: A qualitative investigation into rhetorical shifts and linguistic mechanisms, Ibérica, Journal of the European Association of Languages for Specific Purposes, 27, 121-142.

Loi, C. K. & Evans, M. S. (2010). Cultural differences in the organization of research article introductions from the field of educational psychology: English and Chinese. Journal of Pragmatics, 42(10), 2814-2825.

Martin, J. (2017). Studying persons in context: Taking social psychological reality seriously. New ideas in psychology, 44, 28-33.

Martin, P. & Pérez, I. K. L. (2014). Convincing peers of the value of one’s research: A genre analysis of rhetorical promotion in academic texts. English for Specific Purposes, 34, 1-13.

Medina, D. & Menjívar, C. (2015). The context of return migration: Challenges of mixed-status families in Mexico's schools. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 38(12), 2123–2139.

Miles, M. B., A. M. Huberman & J. Saldana. (2014). Qualitative data analysis: A methods sourcebook (3rd ed.). Sage.

Moghaddasi, S. & Graves, H. A. B. (2017). “Since Hadwiger's conjection…is still open”: Establishing a niche for research in discrete mathematics research article introductions. English for Specific Purposes, 45, 69-85.

Moreno, A. I. & Swales, J. M. (2018). Strengthening move analysis methodology towards bridging the function-form gap. English for Specific Purposes, 50, 40-63.

Neuman, W. L. (2013). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches (7th ed.). Pearson Education.

Ozturk, I. (2007). The textual organisation of research article introductions in Applied Linguistics: Variability within a single discipline. English for Specific Purposes, 26, 25-38.

Reich, M. & West, R. (2015). The effects of minimum wages on food stamp enrollment and expenditures. Industrial Relations, 54(4), 668-694.

Shehzad, W. (2010). Announcement of the principal findings and value addition in Computer Science research papers. Ibérica, 19, 97-118. file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/Announcement_of_the_principal_findings_a.pdf

Swales, J. M. (1990). Genre analysis: English in academic and research settings. Cambridge University Press.

Swales, J. M. (2004). Research genres: Exploration and applications. Cambridge University Press.

Takahashi, R. (2014). An analysis of ELF-oriented features in ELT coursebooks: Are attitudes towards non-native varieties changing in English language teaching policy and practice in Japan? English Today, 30(1), 28-34.

Tessuto, G. (2015). Generic structure and rhetorical moves in English-language empirical law research articles: Sites of interdisciplinary and interdiscursive cross-over. English for Specific Purposes, 37, 13-26.

Thomson Reuters. (2015). ISI Web of Knowledge Journal Citation Reports: 2015 JCR Social Science Edition. (Accessed on 25/09/15)

Whitfield, K. & Strauss, G. (2000). Methods matter: Changes in industrial relations research and their implications. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 38(1), 141-151.

Copyright (c) 2022 Jason Miin-Hwa Lim, Xianqing Luo

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.


Download data is not yet available.