本期範文賞析(SPOTLIGHT)，邀請臺科大語言中心的蔡玫馨老師撰文，介紹論文摘要的結構，進而分析每一個步驟的核心要訣，提供讀者未來撰寫論文摘要的必備知識。本期人員專訪(STAR OF THE MONTH)為寫作教學中心的研究助理賴姿妤女士，分享她豐富的旅遊經驗以及深刻的幾個旅遊景點，銜接即將到來的暑假，供讀者參考旅遊計畫。讀者園地(PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS)節錄中心演講「文案功力的日常練習」的精華摘要，帶領讀者從日常社群媒體的發文做起，從中提煉出未來撰寫專業文案的功力。
"We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives."
蔡玫馨老師 撰文 (Dr. Mei-Hsing Tsai, Assistant Professor of Language Center, NTUST)
What is an abstract? An abstract is basically a summary of a study. A research paper usually includes several sections, such as an introduction, literature review, methodology, data analysis, and conclusion. In the field of social sciences, a journal article is typically around 20-25 pages. Therefore, it is very important for a writer to offer a good abstract so that readers can get an overall idea of what the study is about. In this essay, you will learn about the major features of an abstract and related language issues.
There are different types of abstracts. Many graduate students need to prepare an English abstract for their master's thesis or doctoral dissertation. Some students also need to come up with a conference abstract in advance of presenting their study at a conference. Additionally, doctoral students generally need to write an abstract to accompany a journal article. Therefore, an abstract is really an important writing genre.
In order to write a good abstract, the first step is to understand what a good abstract looks like. As noted above, an abstract is a summary of a study and contains its background information, methodology, and main arguments. According to Swales and Feak (2009), when working on an abstract, a writer should answer the following five questions: (1) What is the background information about the topic? (2) What is this research project about? (3) How was this project conducted? (4) What are the main findings? (5) What implications do the results present?
These questions are very crucial since they correspond to the moves listed in Table 1 below. The first move is the introduction to a study. The second move is the purpose of the study. The third move is associated with its methodology. The fourth and fifth moves are related to findings and implications of the results. While there are five moves, this does not mean that each abstract must contain all five moves. It really depends on the writers themselves in terms of what moves they wish to emphasize in the abstract. Most abstracts consist of at least 3 to 4 moves.
The following is an example of a journal abstract published in the field of applied linguistics. The abstract has been analyzed regarding the moves for you.
(Move 1)Many synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC) studies have been conducted on the nature of online interaction across a range of pragmatic issues. However, the detailed analyses of advice resistance have received less attention. (Move 2; Move 3) Using the methodology of conversation analysis (CA), the present study focuses on L2 peer review activities in a synchronous online context: that of giving and receiving advice based on participants' writing drafts. (Move 4)In L2 peer review activities, advice givers are momentarily positioned as the more knowledgeable party on the issue being discussed, while advice recipients can be viewed as having a subordinate status. I show that advice recipients invoke authority, provide an account, or initiate inquiries to indicate resistance in a delicate manner. (Move 5) I argue that these resistance strategies cooperate to establish the recipients' identities as competent, independent participants and to assert their primary rights over their manuscripts. The study reveals that L2 SCMC peer response is not only a means of developing rhetorical knowledge, but also for negotiating advice and managing interactional practices for participants.
In Move 1, it is helpful to point out the research gap to the readers (i.e., Sentence 2). In this way, the writer can then highlight the importance of the research topic and prepare the reason for the current study. Sentence 3 includes two moves: the first clause indicates what method has been employed, while the second clause addresses the purpose of the present study. In Move 4, a presumption in Sentence 4 is given before the major findings in Sentence 5 in order to emphasize the importance of the findings. Finally, Move 5 focuses on the significance of the study.
Attention should also be drawn to the use of verb tense in an abstract. Generally speaking, a writer can use present tense or past tense to discuss his/her own study. For example, we may see the following structures in journal papers: the purpose of this article is to investigate…or the goal of this experiment was to examine in Move 2. However, past tense and passive verb usage are more likely in Move 3 in order to discuss information about methods, participants, etc. As for Move 4, the writer can use either present tense or past tense, depending on his/her interpretation of the findings. If the writer believes that the phenomena could possibly be universally found, he/she may use the present tense. On the other hand, if the writer wants to emphasize that the findings mainly occur in the present study, then the past tense can be utilized. Moreover, that clauses are frequently employed in Moves 4 and 5.
Having discussed the main features of the abstract and related language issues, I have a final suggestion that may help you write a strong abstract. Every disciplinary field has its own distinctive abstract structure. Conducting linguistic or rhetorical analysis by comparing the features you learn here with the abstracts in your field certainly can assist in preparing an abstract for your own disciplinary community. A good idea is to collect 15-20 abstracts from different journal articles in your own field and then analyze what moves are included in abstracts. By doing so, I believe that everyone has the capability to write an effective abstract for their own study.
Swales, J. M., & Feak, C. B. (2009). Abstracts and the writing of abstract. Michigan: Michigan University Press.
Tsai, M-H. (2017). Negotiating power in L2 online peer response groups. L2 Journal, 9, 21–37.
賴姿妤助理 受訪 (Interviewee: Emily Lai, Research Assistant of AWEC)
Having been to around 30 countries, Emily Lai recently acquires her certificate of Tourist Leader out of her strong interest in arranging and recording the tour itinerary. For her, each trip is meant to taste the unknown, overcome the fear, and experience the sense of awe.
Photo 1 is taken from the driver's angle, on a race track, the well-known green hell, in Nürburgring. Right over there Emily is first able to put herself in professional car racers' pedals to fully taste/test the speed. Photo 2 then brings Emily off the ground, literally diving into the sky in Queenstown, New Zealand. It is more than a conquest of acrophobia, but a breakthrough onto the sky. Photo 3 sets the scene to the Reinebringen hiking trail in Norway. After three hours of uphill climbing, Emily is all of a sweat and fatigue; nevertheless, she is captured in awe by the panorama atop the mountain. "It all becomes worthy," Emily recalls, "after each journey is well-planned and well-accomplished."