Introductory chapter

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The expression of personal opinions and assessments is a ubiquitous feature ofhuman interaction and, despite its apparently impersonal facade, also centralto academic writing. In scholarly genres argument involves presenting a positionon things that matter to a discipline in ways that disciplinary members arelikely to find familiar and persuasive. Beneath its frozen surface, an academictext is seeking to build an appropriate relationship between the writer and thereader by anticipating the audience’s likely interests, knowledge, reactions andprocessing needs. We can, then, see academic writing as essentially dialogic aswriters seek to engage and persuade their readers. In this introductory chapterI explore some of the ways that this is achieved. Based on an analysis of 240published research papers I show how features of stance and engagement, suchas hedges, self-mention, directives and reader pronouns, are not simply drytextualisations but elements of persuasive craftsmanship which help constructa disciplinary view of the world while simultaneously negotiating a crediblepersona for writers.


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