Towards a systemic functional model for comparing forms of discourse in academic writing

Meriel Bloor


This article reports on research into the variation of texts across disciplines and considers the implications of this work for the teaching of writing. The research was motivated by the need to improve students’ academic writing skills in English and the limitations of some current pedagogic advice. The analysis compares Methods sections of research articles across four disciplines, including applied and hard sciences, on a cline, or gradient, termed slow to fast. The analysis considers the characteristics the texts share, but more importantly identifies the variation between sets of linguistic
features. Working within a systemic functional framework, the texts are analysed for length, sentence length, lexical density, readability, grammatical metaphor, Thematic choice, as well as various rhetorical functions. Contextually relevant reasons for the differences are considered and the implications of the findings are related to models of text and discourse. Recommendations are made for developing domain models
that relate clusters of features to positions on a cline.


SFL; academic writing; domain-models


Copyright (c) 2004 Meriel Bloor

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