HUMBLE SERVANTS OF THE DISCIPLINE? SELF-MENTION IN RESEARCH ARTICLES
In this paper, I examine the view that research writing is a modest, self-effacing task which involves authors eradicating themselves from their texts to gain acceptance for their work. Conflicting advice in textbooks and style guides, and the apparently diverse conventions of different disciplines, mean that the extent to which writers can explicitly intrude into their discourse is highly problematic for students, teachers, and experienced writers alike. However, the choices which express writer presence are also closely associated with authorial identity and authority and these not only affect the ideational meaning that writers convey, but also influence the impression they make on their readers. Self-mention is therefore a powerful rhetorical strategy for emphasising a writer’s contribution. Here I focus on the use of self-citation and exclusive first person pronouns in a corpus of 240 research articles in eight disciplines. Through an analysis of these texts and interviews with expert informants I seek to reveal something of how self-mention is used and perceived as a way of understanding more about writing in the disciplines and about the kinds of options available to students.