This study examined diachronic changes in the syntactic complexity of research article (RA) introductions produced by emerging and expert international publication (IP) writers over the past two decades. Our data consisted of 90 RA introductions published in an emerging international journal by Chinese applied linguists without prior IP experience and 90 RA introductions published in a leading international journal by applied linguists with multiple prior international publications. In each corpus, 30 RA introductions were collected from 1998, 2008, and 2018, respectively. These samples were analyzed using seven holistic indices covering multiple dimensions of syntactic complexity and annotated for rhetorical moves and steps. Our analysis revealed important differences between emerging and expert IP writers both in their levels of syntactic complexity at each time point and in the patterns of their diachronic change. Furthermore, our analysis also revealed differences in the rhetorical strategies used by the two groups as well as a close relationship between the changes in emerging Chinese IP writers' syntactic complexity and changes in their rhetorical strategies. These findings shed light on emerging IP writers’ rhetorical and linguistic practices in RA writing from a diachronic perspective, with useful implications for English for Research Publications Purposes pedagogy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language