Structure of Research Article Abstracts in Political Science: A Genre-Based Study

Author : Hesham Suleiman Alyousef

The research article (RA) abstract is the first section researchers read to determine its relevance to their interests. Researchers need to possess an implicit knowledge of the rhetorical move structure and organization of this section. Unlike most scientific disciplines, political science RA abstracts are unstructured, that is, with no headings (or moves), which makes it more challenging.

To the best of our knowledge, the rhetorical move structure in high readership political science RA abstracts has not been researched. This study investigated (a) the rhetorical move structure in 120 political science RA abstracts from six high-impact journals, (b) the most common move patterns, and (c) the move(s) occupying most textual space. The findings indicated the lack of obligatory moves. A move structure model for writing a political science RA abstract is proposed, comprising four conventional moves (Introduction [I]–Purpose [P]–Methods [M]–Results [R]) and two optional step/move, namely, Research Gap step and Discussion [D] move. The results also showed that the first most frequent move pattern is I-P-M-R-D, followed by I-P-M-R and the I-P-R-D.

The fact that an RA abstract summarizes the whole RA results in move embedding, particularly in the four moves, I-P-M-R. The findings revealed the importance of the Results move as it occupied nearly one third of text space. The results may contribute to the fields of discourse and genre studies.

They may provide invaluable insights for novice political science researchers attempting to publish their work in high-ranking journals. The proposed move structure model can act as a guide for English for Academic Purposes (EAP)/English for Specific Purposes (ESP) tutors and political science authors.

URL : Structure of Research Article Abstracts in Political Science: A Genre-Based Study