On the use of interactive metadiscourse in Spanish academic writing: Factors of nativeness and expertise

Jul 13, 2021 12:15 PM — 1:15 PM
Limerick, Ireland


Metadiscourse, which is defined as the ways in which writers/speakers use reflexive language to interact with readers/listeners, has gained increasing scholarly interests over the past few decades (Hyland, 2017; Flowerdew, 2015). In written academic discourse specifically, metadiscourse is considered crucial as its use i) helps writers organize information flow to guide readers through the text (interactive dimension: e.g., firstly, as noted above, therefore); ii) allows writers to express their stance on propositional information and engage readers in the co-construction of the text (interactional dimension: e.g., in our opinion, importantly, you) (Hyland, 2005).

Despite the widespread popularity of this research topic, most previous studies are centred around English whereas other languages are rather under-researched. Additionally, in comparison with interactional metadiscourse, interactive metadiscourse generally has gained fewer scholarly interests. Lastly, much prior research has focused either on one single factor or on multiple factors but without considering the potential interaction between the factors.

This study aims to plug the gap by investigating the effects of nativeness and expertise on the use of interactive metadiscourse in Spanish academic writing. And to this end, four corpora were compiled to represent different nativeness (native and non-native) and expertise (expert and novice). Drawing on the work by Cao & Hu (2014), Lee & Casal (2014) and Carrió-Pastor (2016), we adopted a fine-grained taxonomy as the analytical framework. We used MAXQDA 2020 (VERBI Software, 2019) for corpus management and data annotation.

After running a two-way MANOVA, we found that the interaction effect between nativeness and expertise was not statistically significant whereas the main effects of both factors were significant. Moreover, a key item analysis showed that some interactive markers were specific to certain writer groups, probably due to the register awareness, genre difference, and L1 transfer. Finally, we conclude the study by discussing the implications of the research.


Cao, F., & Hu, G. (2014). Interactive metadiscourse in research articles: A comparative study of paradigmatic and disciplinary influences. Journal of Pragmatics, 66, 15–31. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2014.02.007

Carrió-Pastor, M. L. (2016). A contrastive study of interactive metadiscourse in academic papers written in English and in Spanish. In F. A. Almeida, L. C. García, & V. González-Ruiz (Eds.), Corpus-based studies on language varieties. Peter Lang. https://doi.org/10.3726/978-3-0351-0901-6

Flowerdew, J. (2015). Revisiting metadiscourse: Conceptual and methodological issues concerning signalling nouns. Ibérica, 29, 15–34. https://bit.ly/3rcIjyf

Hyland, K. (2005). Metadiscourse: Exploring Interaction in Writing. Continuum.

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

Lee, J. J., & Casal, J. E. (2014). Metadiscourse in results and discussion chapters: A cross-linguistic analysis of English and Spanish thesis writers in engineering. System, 46, 39–54. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2014.07.009

VERBI Software. (2019). MAXQDA 2020. VERBI Software. www.maxqda.com

Gang Yao
Gang Yao
PhD student

My research interests include corpus linguistics, Spanish as a Foreign Language, and academic writing.