Developing research report writing skills using corpora

Eric Friginal

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


This exploratory study investigates the use of corpora to develop the research report writing skills of college-level students enrolled in a professional forestry program. Specifically, the study identifies the contribution of a concordance program in highlighting the characteristics of effective writing in the field of forestry by focusing on a set of selected linguistic features: (a) linking adverbials, (b) reporting verbs, (c) verb tenses (past and present), and (d) passive sentence structures. These features were selected for the study based on a comparison of a corpus of published forestry articles vis-à-vis a corpus of students' research reports. Initial analysis showed interesting differences in the distributions of these linguistic features between professional and student texts. Two groups of forestry students (N=28, with 14 students per group) were randomly assigned, one receiving six hours of instruction over a two-week period using corpus tools and materials, while the other group was given traditional research report writing instruction. The reports written by the students in the two groups before and after the treatment were compared with the distributional data from the corpus of published articles (i.e., professional corpus). Overall, results show that corpus instruction contributed positively to the patterning of the frequencies and distributional data of linking adverbials, reporting verbs, and verb tenses in the students' research reports relative to the professional corpus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-220
Number of pages13
JournalEnglish for Specific Purposes
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • Corpora and research report writing
  • Corpus analysis
  • Genre-specific corpus
  • Local learner corpora

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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