An Investigation of Abstract and Discussion Sections in Master’s Dissertations

Muhammad Afzaal, Kanglong Liu, Baoqin Wu, Rahiba Sayyida, Swaleha Bano Naqvi

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


This study analyzes the differences between the academic writing of undergraduate students belonging to two Pakistani universities, one located in an urban setting and the other in a rural locale, in an attempt not only to identify why these differences may arise but also how such learners may be encouraged to more readily adopt academic writing techniques in their theses. Data comprises the abstract and discussion sections of undergraduate students’ dissertations. The study uses Swales’ CARS model to analyze the academic writing proficiency demonstrated in the selected data. The study finds that the occurrences of a particular move were more frequent in the dissertations of the rural area students. In contrast, the instantiation of hedges was
significant in the dissertations of learners from the urban area university. These observed differences confirm the perception that in terms of academic writing “quality”, the universities in rural settings in Pakistan are not sufficiently competitive with peer institutions in urban settings. The study further reveals that dissertations from rural setting universities reflect poor use of rhetorical moves associated with good academic writing, while in line with Swales’ CARS model, students from the urban university show significant linear patterns and accuracy in their academic writing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-229
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of English Linguistics
Issue number1
Early online date28 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • ESP
  • hedges
  • CARS model
  • academic dissertations
  • moves structure


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