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Rhetorical Moves in English Abstracts of Chinese Master’s Students: Analysis of Pre- and Post-test Performance in an Academic Writing Course

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DOI: 10.25236/isaete.2020.057


Xia Jiang, Qing Wang

Corresponding Author

Xia Jiang


While more Chinese master’s students are encouraged to write research articles in English, the teaching of English abstracts writing becomes popular in Chinese universities. This paper aims to explore the English abstract writing capabilities of the Chinese non-English major master’s students in terms of rhetorical moves and the effectiveness of abstracts writing course. The pre- and the post- test of the same task were conducted in a university in China involving 334 students. Their abstracts were tagged and analyzed in terms of moves occurrence based on Santos’ five moves model. By the comparison between the pre- and post-test moves, the research demonstrates that the occurrence of most moves increased after the writing courses, particularly the methods and results moves with remarkable increase. But a proportion of post-test abstracts still don’t include the three indispensable moves: purpose, methods, and results. The result indicates that the academic writing course helped students better write the rhetorical moves in an abstract, but the purpose and conclusion moves, which presents as difficulties, should be given special training.


English abstract, rhetorical moves, Chinese students, academic writing course