Should I use I? : A corpus-based study of first-person pronouns in scientific journals of different rankings
Abstract: According to earlier research, first-person pronouns are used in academic writing for a multitude of reasons. In this paper, the aim is to investigate if first-person pronouns are used to different extents or with different functions in articles from highly ranked scientific journals and articles from less highly ranked scientific journals. The investigation is based on a corpus study of 20 highly ranked sociological articles and 20 less highly ranked sociological articles. The corpus data provide statistics for frequencies of first-person pronouns and frequencies of so-called genre roles, in accordance with Tang and John’s (1999) model. The results reveal that the recounter genre role and first-person pronouns of all types combined are significantly more frequent in highly ranked articles in comparison to less highly ranked articles.
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