The difficult balance between author's and academic community's power over research articles in applied linguistics.

  • Francisca Suau-Jiménez University of Valencia


Precision and objectivity through impersonalization, together with non-assertive language, have been the main conventions that writers of academic articles have had to strictly follow, if they wanted their texts to be accepted by the scientific or academic community and thus, be published. The rationale behind these principles is that what counts in scientific research is not who investigates but the results of the investigation. The academic community imposes these discourse constraints as a means for researchers to attain membership and authority, negating any individual impulse for self-description of subjective convictions. From a Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) perspective, one can see this phenomenon as a power imposition and the way in which the western, mostly Anglo-Saxon, scientific community manages to exert control over its members nowadays. As van Dijk (1993) puts it, “…genres typically have conventional schemas consisting of various categories. Access to some of these may be prohibited or obligatory.” The convention of impersonal reporting remains a hallowed concept for many and therefore best presented as if human agency was not part of the process” (Hyland, 2001). A recent trend has been developing which assumes that scientific texts entail a high degree of persuasion, and this is achieved through tentative language, generally in the form of hedging, but also through a certain degree of egoinvolvement (Chafe, 1985). This paper attempts to explore this difficult balance between objectivity and authorial power as a means to achieve authority, persuade and be accepted by the academic community, from a cross-cultural viewpoint. A corpus of English and Spanish research articles of Linguistics have been examined, analyzing impersonal and personal traits, as well as rhetorical functions with illocutionary force, as tools that make the academic community and authors strive for authority in these two languages. Conclusions have been drawn, with the aim of shedding some light on this controversial issue and to look for differences in how the English and the Spanish scientific or academic communities exert control over their members by means of discourse.