There has been an increasing and widespread scholarly interest in the topic of metadiscourse over the past few decades. This burgeoning area of research has witnessed a diversification of theoretical models (Ädel, 2006; Ädel & Mauranen, 2010; Flowerdew, 2015; Hyland, 2017) and a boom of research themes and directions (Hyland, 2017; Ädel, 2012, 2018). However, how to methodologically approach metadiscourse seems to have never been the main topic in the literature on metadiscourse, although all pertinent studies, without exception, apply a specific method to approach it. Very few previous studies, perhaps with the notable exception of Ädel (2012), talk about methodologies that have been employed to research metadiscourse. In order to systematically understand metadiscourse, as well as to help metadiscourse researchers choose the most appropriate method for their research design, we believe there is a compelling need to review the main research methods that have been or can potentially be applied to metadiscourse studies. In this work, we identified five approaches in total: the corpus linguistics approach, the ethnographic approach, the mixed methods approach, the experimental approach, and the computer-assisted content analysis. We will cover the general ideas and techniques of each approach, briefly review the studies in which each approach was adopted, list their strengths and weaknesses, as well as introduce some tools or software packages where necessary. We will focus in particular on the last methodological approach and the analytical tool associated with it, i.e., computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS).
Ädel, A. (2006). Metadiscourse in L1 and L2 English. John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/scl.24
Ädel, A. (2012). Metadiscourse. In C. Chapelle (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics (pp. 1–7). Wiley Blackwell.https://doi.org/10.1002/9781405198431.wbeal0763
Ädel, A. (2018). Variation in Metadiscursive “You” Across Genres: From Research Articles to Teacher Feedback. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 18(4), 777–796. https://doi.org/10.12738/estp.2018.4.0037
Ädel, A., & Mauranen, A. (2010). Metadiscourse: Diverse and Divided Perspectives. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 9(2), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.35360/njes.215
Flowerdew, J. (2015). Revisiting metadiscourse: Conceptual and methodological issues concerning signalling nouns. Ibérica, 29, 15–34.
Hyland, K. (2017). Metadiscourse: What is it and where is it going? Journal of Pragmatics, 113, 16–29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2017.03.007