Acknowledging the limitations of one’s own research in empirical research article Discussion and/or other closing sections is rhetorically challenging, and especially for those aiming to publish in a foreign language. This paper hypothesizes that a part of the challenge may be due to cross-cultural differences in the rhetorical strategies used for presenting these potentially self-damaging statements. Adopting an intercultural rhetoric approach, two sub-samples of Limitations were drawn from two English/Spanish comparable corpora of such sections in the social sciences. The rhetorical purposes of their surrounding segments were compared from the lens of the “bad news” message. The results showed that most authors prepared the reader for the Limitations, although the preferred stylistic strategies for doing so varied across the two languages. Authors also tended to exploit a similar set of rhetorical purposes, but in different ways, to persuade readers about the acceptability of their own study limitations. Specifically, in English it was conventional to sandwich the Limitations with “good news”, including implications for future practice, to mitigate their possible negative effect. In Spanish it was conventional to surround them with explications to display the authors’ expertise, while the only salient mitigating strategy was their attribution to an external factor. These divergent rhetorical practices may be understood in terms of different cultural writing styles and authors’ understandings of impression management that were uncovered through email interviews.
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