Relationship between persuasive metadiscoursal devices in research article abstracts and their attention on social media

Cindy Sing Bik Ngai, Rita Gill Singh

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Research article abstracts often convince readers that the article is worth reading. Therefore, they rely not only on the quality of arguments or novelty of findings to persuade readers but also linguistic markers in the form of metadiscourse to assert a position on an issue, increase readability of a text, engage readers, and avoid objection to the writer's interpretations, thereby enhancing the credibility of the text. Given that research article abstracts are often published online and their newsworthiness would affect whether they would be ultimately read,, which emerged in 2010, can help quantify the popularity of research article abstracts by counting views on social media and other platforms such as news and policy documents. Yet a study on how metadiscoursal devices are used to persuade readers, and how they are correlated with Altmetric Attention Score (AAS) provided by Altmetric. com, merits attention. In our study, we examined 241 abstracts from 50 top journals in 12 disciplines with the highest AAS from 2014-2018 and performed a quantitative analysis of the interactive and interactional metadiscourse markers exhibited in the abstracts. Overall, we found a positive correlation between the use of metadiscourse and AAS. Furthermore, we noticed that each discipline used distinct metadiscourse markers in abstracts with high AAS, which contributed to its respective discipline-specific conventions. It has been previously shown that the use of an array of interactive and interactional metadiscourse renders the abstract more worthy of attention. Being knowledgeable of rhetorical choices in relation to metadiscoursal devices will enable writers to construct more persuasive abstracts by making informed judgments about the appropriate use of metadiscourse to draw the attention of readers in their respective disciplines.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0231305
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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