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Genres in academic writing


Students are asked to write many different kinds of texts. Depending on your subject, these could be essays, laboratory reports, case-studies, book reviews, reflective diaries, posters, research proposals, and so on and are normally referred to as genres. These different genres, though, can be constructed from a small range of different text types.

If, for example, you are asked to write an essay to answer the following question:

Discuss possible solutions to the problem of international credit control.

You could answer it in the following way:

  1. Define credit control, say what it is and give an example;
  2. Explain why international credit control is a problem in business today, and support your explanation by evidence from your reading;
  3. Describe some possible solutions to the problem of credit control in an international context. Again support your suggestions with evidence from your reading;
  4. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of each of the possible solutions;
  5. Decide which solution you would prefer and give reasons.

So in order to answer the question you need to be able to write texts to do the following:

Bruce (2008) calls these various texts cognitive genres, but I have called them Rhetorical Functions: see Functions.

Here, we will pull together these different functional text types to show how the larger genres (or part genres) you are expected to write can be constructed from these shorter functional texts.

But, first you need to decide which genre you are expected to write. Which genre am I expected to write?

  1. Essays
  2. Reports
  3. Case Studies
  4. Research proposals
  5. Book reviews
  6. Brief research reports
  7. Literature reviews
  8. Reflective writing
  9. Introductions
  10. Research methods
  11. Research results
  12. Research discussions
  13. Writing conclusions
  14. Research abstracts
  15. Research Dissertations & Theses