Genre analysis of research grant proposals.

  • Haiying Feng City University of Hong Kong
  • Ling Shi University of British Colombia


This paper examines nine successful SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) standard research grant proposals written by nine professors in the field of education at a Canadian university. The study follows the tradition of move analysis developed by Swales (1990) and Bhatia (1993) to describe the generic structures of the summary (one page) and main text (six pages) of the sample proposals. Findings suggest a three-move scheme of the summary and a ten-move scheme of the main text. Compared with a comparatively sequential move structure in the summary, the rhetorical structure of the main text with move recurrences and move mixing appears to be quite complex. The study addresses the issues of move recurrence and move mixing by revealing the grant writers’ rationale behind their discursive act. Based on the analyses of both textual and interview data, the study also describes and explains the rhetorical strategies the writers employed in achieving the promotional purposes and addressing the reviewer committee. Implications for move analysts and suggestions for grant proposal learner writers are also included.