Syntactic Structures and Rhetorical Functions of Electrical Engineering, Psychiatry, and Linguistics Research Article Titles in English and Persian: A Cross-linguistic and Cross-disciplinary Study

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

1 PhD Candidate, Applied Linguistics, Sheikhbahaee University, Isfahan, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Applied Linguistics, Department of Foreign Languages, Sheikhbahaee University, Isfahan, Iran

Abstract

A research article (RA) title is the first and foremost feature that attracts the reader's attention, the feature from which she/he may decide whether the whole article is worth reading. The present study attempted to investigate syntactic structures and rhetorical functions of RA titles written in English and Persian and published in journals in three disciplines of Electrical Engineering, Psychiatry, and Linguistics. To this end, 750 English and 750 Persian RAs were randomly selected from reputable English and Persian journals in these fields and syntactic structures of their titles were analyzed based on Dietz’s (1995) taxonomy. The results revealed that, despite some similarities, there were some cross-linguistic and cross-disciplinary differences in title structures. The differences were found in title components and title length and style. Generally, English titles were shorter in length than Persian ones. Psychiatry titles were the longest, whereas Linguistics ones were the shortest. Although the majority of titles were single-unit ones, English authors used multiple-unit titles more than Persian ones. Multiple-unit titles were also employed the most in Linguistics RAs. No significant difference was found regarding combinations of multiple-unit titles in the two languages; however, topic-description combinations were the most frequent in Electrical Engineering and Linguistics titles, whereas topic-method ones were the most popular in Psychiatry titles. Moreover, the post-modified nominal group construction was the most frequent syntactic structure across single-unit titles. Such findings can contribute to the developments of English for Specific Purposes and provide some information about Persian and English RA titles structures in different disciplines.

Keywords


Anthony, L. (2001). Characteristic features of research article titles incomputer science. IEEE Transactions on ProfessionalCommunication, 44(3), 187-194.
Bhatia, V. K. (1993). Analyzing genre: language use in professional settings. London: Longman
Bhatia, V. K. (2008). Genre analysis, ESP and professional practice. English for Specific Purposes, 27(2), 161-174.
Busch-Lauer, I. (2000). Titles in English and German research papers in medicine and linguistics. In A. Trosborg (Ed.), Analysing professional genres (pp.77-97). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.         
Buxton, A. B., & Meadows, A. J. (1977). The variation in the information content of titles of research papers with time and discipline. Journal of Documentation, 33(1), 46-52.
Cheng, S. W., Kuo, C. W., & Kuo, C. H. (2012). Research article titles in applied linguistics. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 6(1), A1-A14.
Day, R. A. (1994). How to write and publish scientific papers. Phoenix: Oryx Press.
Dudley-Evans, T. (1984). A preliminary investigation of the writing of dissertation titles. In G. James (Ed.), The ESP classroom: methodology, materials, expectations (pp. 40-46). Exeter: Exeter Linguistic Studies.
Dudley-Evans, T. (1994). Genre analysis: An approach to text analysis for ESP. In M. Coulthard (Ed.), Advances in written text analysis (pp. 219-228). London: Rutledge.
Goodman, N. W. (2000). Survey of active verbs in the titles of clinical trials reports. British Medical Journal, 320, 914-915.
Haggan, M. (2004). Research paper titles in literature, linguistics and science: Dimensions of attraction. Journal of Pragmatics, 36(2), 293-317.
Halliday, M. A. K. (1994). An introduction to functional grammar (2nd ed.), London: Edward Arnold.
Halliday, M. A. K. (1998). Things and relations: Regrammaticising experience as technical knowledge. In J. R. Martin & R. Veel (Eds.), Reading science: Critical and Functional Perspectives on Discourse of Science (pp. 185-235). London: Routledge.
Hamp-Lyons, L. (1987). Study writing: A course in written English for academic and professional purposes. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.
Hartley, J. (2007). Planning that title: Practices and preferences for titles with colons in academic articles. Library and Information Science Research, 29(4), 553–568.
Hyland, K. (2000). Disciplinary discourses: Social interactions in academic writing. London: Longman.
Jalilifar, A. R. (2010a). Research article introductions: Sub-disciplinary variations in applied linguistics. The Journal of Teaching Language Skills, 2(2), 29-55.
Jalilifar, A. R. (2010b).Writing titles in applied linguistics: A comparative study of theses and research articles. Taiwan International ESP Journal, 2(1), 27-52.
Jalilifar, A., Hayati, A., & Mayahi, N. (2010). An Exploration of Generic Tendencies in Applied Linguistics Titles. Journal of Faculty of Letters and Humanities, 5, 35-57.
Jalilifar, A. R., Hayati, A. M., & Namdari, N. (2012). A comparative study of research article discussion sections of local and international applied linguistic journals. The journal of Asia TEFL, 9(1), 1-29.
Jamali, H. R., & Nikzad, M. (2011). Article title type and its relation with the number of downloads and citations. Scientometrics, 88(2), 653-661.
Kane, T. S. (2000). Oxford Essential Guide to writing. Oxford: Berkley Publishing Group.
Kanoksilapatham, B. (2007). Writing scientific research articles in Thai and English: Similarities and differences. Sitpakorn University International Journal, 7, 172- 203.
Manten, A. A., & Greenhalgh J. F. D. (1977) Titles of scientific papers. Animal Feed Science and Technology, 2(1), 1-6.
Marefat, H., & Mohammadzadeh, S. (2013). Genre analysis of literature research article abstracts: A cross-linguistic, cross-cultural study. Applied Research on English Language, 2(2), 37-50.
Moattarian, A., & Alibabaee, A. (2015). Syntactic Structures in Research Article Titles from Three Different Disciplines: Applied Linguistics, Civil Engineering, and Dentistry. Journal of Teaching Language Skills, 7(1), 27-50.
Moore, A. (2010). ‘What’s in a title? A two-step approach to optimisation for man and machine’. BioEssays, 32, 183–184.
Nagano, L. R. (2015). Research article titles and disciplinary conventions: A corpus study of eight disciplines. Journal of Academic Writing, 5(1), 133-144.
Peacock, M. (2002). Communicative moves in the discussion section of research articles. System, 30(4), 479-497.
Salager-Meyer, F., & Ariza, M. A. A. (2013). Titles are "serious stuff": A historical study of academic titles. JAHR, 4(7), 257-271.
Soler, V. (2007). Writing titles in science: An exploratory study. English for Specific Purposes, 26(1), 90-102.
Swales, J. M. (1990). Genre analysis: English in academic and research setting. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Swales, J. M., & Feak, C. B. (1994). Academic writing for graduate students: Essential tasks and skills. Michigan: Michigan UniversityPress.
Talebinezhad, M., Arbabi, Z., Taki, S., & Akhlaghi, M. (2012). Rhetorical variation in medical article abstracts written in English and Persian. Journal of Teaching Language Skill, 3(4), 127-144.
Wang, Y., & Bai, Y. (2007). A corpus-based syntactic study of medical research article titles. System, 35(3), 388-399.
Yitzhaki, M. (1994). Relation of title length of journal articles to number of authors. Scientometrics, 30, 321-332.
Yitzhaki, M. (2002). Relation of the title length of a journal article to the length of the article. Scientometrics, 54 (3), 435-447.