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Analyzing Professional Rhetoric

 

 


 IMRAD Format - The IMRAD format is often used to structure scientific and technical articles.  As the descriptions of these sections indicate, the IMRAD format consists of two sections in which the new study is actually described (Methods and Reporting Results), framed by two sections that place the new work in the context of previous knowledge (Introduction and Discussion).  Both of these framing sections describe the current state knowledge in the field that created the need for the study - and the discussion describes the new state of the fields knowledge now that the new results have been added to the knowledge pool.

            The distinction between framing sections and describing sections is often signaled by verb tense: framing sections usually use present tense, while describing sections typically use past tense in order to describe actions already taken and data already recorded.  One of the effects, and thus uses, of past tense, then, is to localize and limit findings to particular researchers or labs, while present tense identifies a claim or conclusion as part of the fields current understanding.

 

A. Introduction:

Common Rhetorical Moves in Research Article Introductions

 

Move 1            Announce the topic

Move 2            Summarize previous knowledge and research

Move 3            Prepare for present research by indicating a gap in previous research and/or by raising a questions about previous research.

Move 4            Introduce the present research by stating the purpose and/or By outlining the research.

 

 

B. Methods Section: The contents of the methods section will vary according to the type of research being done.  There are some basic organizational similarities however.  Methods descriptions begin by identifying the subjects of the study, whether they are viruses, forests, or human beings.  Once the subjects of study have been identified, the materials and procedures used to study them can be described.  This description should be detailed and complete enough to enable knowledgeable colleagues to repeat the experiment, observation, or calculations successfully.  Standard procedures that will be familiar to your in-field readers can be identified quickly without citations, further explanation or justification.  Procedures established in previous studies may appear with citations.  New procedures or substantial modifications will be explained and justified.  The degree of justification needed for a procedure depends on the status of these procedures in the research community.

 

C. Reporting Results:  This section consists of summarized data and is intended to point out trends or patterns in the data which suggest conclusions.  The relationship between the data and the conclusions is usually presented in the form of graphics, i.e. tables or graphs.  Tables are less visual than graphs but are helpful when it is important to show exact values of the data.  Graphs work very well for presenting trends and patterns.  It is important that any graphics used in the article are explained as clearly and concisely as possible and are clearly labeled..

 

D. Discussion Section: The purpose of the discussion section of the article is to explain how the research question has been answered.  It may be looked at as the mirror image of the introduction.  In the introduction, the writer starts from outside the data with  information about the general topic and existing research in order to justify the need for the research described in the article.  In the discussion section, the writer begins with the results of his/her research and then locates this work in relation to the work that has been done previously.  The discussion section contains comments on:

 

-The magnitude and direction of the effects observed (compared with what others found or compared with what might be expected)

-The advantages and limitations of the methods used in the research (and how these features may have influenced the observed effects)

-The implications of the findings for current practice or theory

-The research questions that remain

 

References: This section provides the sources of documents relevant to the study.

 

 


                                                                                                           

NON-IMRAD FORMAT

 


 

1.               What was the writers purpose in writing the article?

 

2.               Who is the writers audience?

 

3.               What is the writers main point?

 

4.               How does the writer prove or verify this point?  What evidence is used?

 

5.               How does the writer deal with previous information on this topic?