Nominalization in the Writing of Novice vs. Experienced Members of Academic Communities: A Comparative Discourse Analysis


Univeristy of Sistan and Baluchestan


The language register used in academic communities has the special features of density, complexity, and abstractness which are associated with nominalization with which new members of the communities might not be familiar. To explore the possible distance between novice and established members regarding their awareness of this grammatical feature, the present study investigated the employment of nominalization in the writings of Iranian graduate students (both MA and PhD students) and experienced figures in applied linguistics. Forty five research articles in the discipline by the three groups of writers served as the corpus of the study. A rigorous analysis began by identifying and outlining nominalization instances manually through and per all rhetorical sections of the articles. The occurrences of the two types of nominal expressions was counted and normalized. So as to detect the possible significant differences between the samples, chi-square tests were run. The results revealed that the experienced writers used significantly more nominalization in their writings. However, although the total nominal expressions used in MA texts were more than those used in PhD texts, the difference turned out not to be significant. There were also similarities and variations in the ranking patterns of the two types of nominalization in four rhetorical sections of the three groups of the articles. It can be concluded that the differences might reflect the distance between the novice and the established authors regarding their awareness of the importance of nominalization in academic writing. The implications of the study for EAP courses were also discussed.