A Corpus-based Study of Lexical Bundles in Discussion Section of Medical Research Articles


1 Alzahra University

2 university of Kashan


There has been increasing interest in utilizing corpora in linguistic research and pedagogy in recent years. Rhetorical organization of different sections of research articles may appear similar in various disciplines, but close examination may show subtle differences nonetheless. One of the features that has been at the center of attention especially in recent years is the idiomaticity of a discourse which can be examined from the perspective of multi-word units captured by the automatic retrieval of lexical bundles. This study takes a corpus-based approach for the identification of lexical bundles. A corpus of 801,894 words from 790 articles was collected. In order to fulfill the purposes of the present study, ABBYY FineReader 10 professional edition, Total Assistant, Antconc 3.2.3, and WordSmith Tools 5 were used to identify lexical bundles. Then these bundles were classified structurally and functionally based on the presented taxonomies in the literature. The results of the current study indicated that the writers of medical research articles mostly rely on text-oriented bundles in the discussion section of research articles to establish academic discourse.


Alipour, M., Jalilifar, A., & Zarea, M. (2013). A Corpus Study of Lexical Bundles across Different Disciplines. The Iranian EFL Journal, 9(6), 11-35.
Altenberg, B. (1998). On the phraseology of spoken English: The evidence of recurrent word-combinations. In A. P. Cowie (Ed.), Phraseology: Theory, analysis and applications (pp. 101–122). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Anthony, L. (2007). Antconc 3.2.3: A free text analysis software. Available on line at http://www.antlab.sci.waseda.ac.jp/.
Basturkmen, H. (2012). A genre-based investigation of discussion sections of research articles in Dentistry and disciplinary variation. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 11, 34–144.
Biber, D. (2006). University language: A corpus–based study of spoken and written registers. Amsterdam: Benjamin.
Biber, D., & Barbieri, F. (2007). Lexical bundles in university spoken and written registers. English for Specific Purposes, 26, 263–286.
Biber, D., & Finegan, E. (1994). Intra-textual variation within medical research articles. In N. Oostdiijk, & P. deHaan (Eds.), Corpus-based research into language (pp. 201–221). Amsterdam: Rodopi.
Biber, D., Conrad, S. & Cortes, V. (2003). Lexical bundles in speech and writing: an initial taxonomy. In A. Wilson, P. Rayson & T. McEnery. Corpus Linguistics by the Lune. (pp. 71-92). Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
Biber, D., Conrad, S. & Cortes, V. (2004). If you look at lexical bundles in university teaching and textbooks. Applied Linguistics 25 (3), 371– 405.
Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S., & Finegan, E. (1999). The Longman grammar of spoken and written English. London: Longman.
Breeze, R. (2013). Lexical bundles across four legal genres. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 18(2), 229-253.
Brett, P. (1994). A genre analysis of the Results section of sociology articles. English for Specific Purposes, 13 (1), 47–59.
Butler, C. S. (1990). Qualifications in science: Modal meanings in scientific texts. In W. Nash (Ed.), The writing scholar: Studies in academic discourse (pp. 137–170). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Bychkovska, T., & Lee, J. J. (2017). At the same time: Lexical bundles in L1 and L2 university student argumentative writing. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 30, 38-52.
Chang, C. F. & Kuo, C. H. (2011). A corpus-based approach to online materials development for writing research articles. English for Specific Purposes, 30, 222–234.
Cortes, V. (2002). Lexical bundles in freshman composition. In R. Reppen, S. M. Fitzmaurice & D. Biber (Eds.) Using corpora to explore linguistic variation (pp. 131–145). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Cortes, V. (2004). Lexical bundles in published and student disciplinary writing: examples from history and biology. English for Specific Purposes, 23, 397–423.
Cortes, V. (2006). Teaching lexical bundles in the disciplines: An example from a writing intensive history class. Linguistics and Education, 17, 391-406.
Cortes, V. (2013). The purpose of this study is to: Connecting lexical bundles and moves in research article introductions. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 12, 33–43.
Cowie, A. P. (1998). Introduction. In A. P.  Cowie (Ed.), Phraseology: Theory, analysis, and applications. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
De Cock, S. (1998). A recurrent word combination approach to the study of formulae in the speech of native and non-native speakers of English. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 3 (1), 59–80.
De Cock, S., Granger, S., Leech, G., & McEnery, T. (1998). An automated approach to the phrasicon of EFL learners. In S. Granger (Ed.), Learner English on computer (pp. 67–79). London: Longman.
Dubois, B. L. (1997). The biomedical discussion section in context. Greenwich, Connecticut: Ablex Publishing.
Dudley-Evans, T. (1997). Genre: how far can we should we go?. World Englishes, 16 (3), 351–358.
Gledhill, C. (2000). Collocations in science writing. Tu¨bingen, Germany: Gunter Narr Verlag Tu¨ bingen.
Grabowski, L. (2015). Keywords and lexical bundles within English pharmaceutical discourse: A corpus-driven description. English for Specific Purposes, 38, 23–33.
Güngör, F., & Uysal, H. H. (2016). A Comparative Analysis of Lexical Bundles Used by Native and Non-native Scholars. English Language Teaching, 9 (6), 176-188.
Holmes, R. (1997). Genre analysis, and the social sciences: An investigation of the structure of research article discussion sections in three disciplines. English for Specific Purposes, 16 (4),321–337.
Hong, A. L., & Hua, T. K., (2018). Specificity in English for Academic Purposes (EAP): A Corpus Analysis of Lexical Bundles in Academic Writing. 3L: The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies, 24 (2), 82 – 94.
Hyland, K. (1998). Hedging in scientific research articles. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Hyland, K. (2004). Disciplinary discourses: Social interactions in academic writing. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Hyland, K. (2008a). Academic clusters: Text patterning in published and postgraduate writing. International Journal of Applied Linguistics. 18 (1), 1-9.
Hyland, K. (2008b). As can be seen: Lexical bundles and disciplinary variation. English for Specific Purposes, 27, 4-21.
Jalali, H. (2009). Lexical bundles in applied linguistics: Variations within a single discipline (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Isfahan.
Jalali, H. (2014). Examining novices’ selection of lexical bundles: The case of EFL postgraduate students in applied linguistics. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research, 1(2), 1-11.
Kjellmer, G. (1990). A mint of phrases. In K. Aijmer & B. Altenberg (Eds.), English corpus linguistics: Studies in honor of Jan Svartvik (pp. 111–127). London: Longman.
Kuo, C. H. (1999). The use of personal pronouns: Role relationships in scientific journal articles. English for Specific Purposes, 18(2), 121–138.
Lewin, B. A. (2001). Expository discourse: A genre-based approach to social science research texts. London: Continuum.
Lindeberg, A. (1994). Rhetorical conventions in the discussion/conclusion sections of research articles in finance, management and marketing. In M. Brekke, O. Anderson, T. Dahl, & J. Myking (Eds.), Applications and implications of current LSP research. Proceedings of the 9th European LSP Symposium, Bergen, Norway, August 1993 (pp. 761–779). Bergen, Norway: Fagbokforlaget.
Martinez, I. (2003). Aspects of theme in the method and discussion sections of biology journal articles in English. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 2 (2), 103–123.
 Pan, F., Reppen, R., & Biber, D. (2016). Comparing patterns of L1 versus L2 English academic professionals: Lexical bundles in Telecommunications research journals. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 21, 60-71.
Pang, W. (2010). Lexical Bundles and the Construction of an Academic Voice: A Pedagogical Perspective. Asian EFL Journal. Professional Teaching Articles, 47, 1-13.
Parvizi, N. (2011). Identification of discipline-specific lexical bundles in education (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Kashan.
Peng, J. F. (1987). An investigation of rhetorical and organizational features of the discussion sections of Chemical Engineers’ papers (Master’s thesis). University of Birmingham.
Safarzadeh, M. M., Monfared, A., & Sarfeju, M. (2013). Native and non-native use of lexical bundles in discussion section of political science articles. Iranian Journal of Applied Language Studies, 5 (2), 138-166.
Schmitt, N., & Carter R. (2004). Formulaic sequences in action: An introduction. In: N. Schmitt (Ed.), Formulaic sequences: Acquisition, processing and use (pp.1–22). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Schmitt, N., Grandage, S., & Adolphs, S. (2004). Are corpus-derived recurrent clusters psychologically valid? In Norbert Schmitt (Ed.). Formulaic Sequences (pp. 127-151). Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Scott, M. (2008). WordSmith Tools version 5. Liverpool: Lexical Analysis Software.
Shin, Y. K., Cortes, V., & Yoo, I. W. (2018). Using lexical bundles as a tool to analyze definite article use in L2 academic writing: An exploratory study. Journal of Second Language Writing, 39, 29–41.
Stubbs, M. (2007a). An example of frequent English phraseology: Distribution, structures and functions. In R. Facchinetti (Ed.), Corpus Linguistics 25 years on (pp. 89–105). Amsterdam: Radopi.
Stubbs, M. (2007b). Quantitative data on multi-word sequences in English: The case of word ‘world’. In M. Hoey, M. Mahlberg, M. Stubbs & W. Teubert (Eds.), Text, discourse and corpora: Theory and analysis (pp. 163–189). London: Continuum.
Swales, J. M. (1990). Genre analysis: English in academic and research settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tarone, E., Dwyer, S., Gillette, S., & Icke, V. (1998). On the use of the passive and active voice in astrophysics journal papers: With extensions to other languages and other fields. English for Specific Purposes, 17( 1), 113–132.
Thompson, G., & Ye, Y. (1991). Evaluation of the reporting verbs used in academic papers. Applied Linguistics, 12, 365–382.
Valipoor, L. (2010). A corpus-based study of words and bundles in chemistry research articles (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Kashan.
Wang, J., Liang, Sh. & Ge, G. (2008). Establishment of a medical academic word list. English for Specific Purposes, 27, 442–458.