Evaluation in Moves: An Integrated Analysis of Chinese MA Thesis Literature Reviews

  •  Jianping XIE    


The ultimate communicative purpose of literature reviews is to convince the reader of the worthiness of the writer’s research, which is realized stage by stage and evaluation plays an important role in achieving this end. However, concerns about evaluation demonstration in novice academic writers’ literature reviews have been repeatedly voiced in academia. This study examines how Chinese English-major MA students utilize evaluative resources in different rhetorical stages in thesis literature reviews and whether in a way that facilitates building a coherent argument for their own studies. To achieve this, an integrated appraisal analysis applying Martin and White’s (2005) appraisal framework with a move analysis based on Kwan’s (2006) model of the move structure of thesis literature reviews is undertaken. Results show that the Chinese students generally manipulate evaluative resources in a way that is beneficial for realizing the purposes of different rhetorical stages in thesis literature reviews. However, they also have problems in deploying generic structure and constructing evaluative stances, which hamper weaving a strong argument in the texts. Findings of this study provide implications for teaching English academic writing in China and in other L2 contexts as well.

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