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Academic reading: Genre and rhetorical functions

Genre and rhetorical functions

Improve your reading of academic texts by recognizing the function of the writing within an academic text. You can do this by recognizing typical language used to express these functions. The most frequently recurring sequences of words are known as lexical bundles, chunks or clusters. Two main sections which often contain these bundles are the introduction and conclusion sections. Here are some examples:

Evaluating other views

  i.   presenting views: X maintains / argues that
  ii.  commenting negatively: This is open to doubt / One of the main arguments against X is that..
  iii. commenting positively: One advantage of X's view is... / X correctly identifies Y as ....

Illustrating your ideas For example, / For instance / An example of this is …. / …. demonstrates this
Explaining your ideas This is due to.... / This can be explained by …. / One explanation of this may be ….
Taking a stance

 i.   using adverbs: clearly / perhaps / certainly / undoubtedly
 ii.  using verbs: I argue that / This paper argues/contends/claims that...

Comparing and contrasting X differed in.... / On the one hand.... on the other hand / However, …. / Both
Drawing conclusions In conclusion / To summarize / It may be concluded that / Altogether

These chunks depend on the applicable genre and discipline conventions and your knowledge of them will not only help to reduce your processing time when reading, but the apt use of them in your own academic writing will also prove useful.


Select an academic paper in your field. Find examples of language and chunks used to express functions like the ones in the table above.