International Journal of Applied Linguistics

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Volume 13 Issue 1 (June 2003), Pages 1-157

Academic criticism in Spanish medical discourse: a cross‐generic approach (pages 96-114)

The purpose of this paper is to determine whether the frequency of academic criticism (AC) varies in the four most frequent written genres of medical Spanish discourse – editorials (ED), review articles (RV), research papers (RP) and case reports (CR) – and whether the frequency has changed over time. The corpus consisted of 76 medical articles published between 1930 and 1999, divided into Block A (1930–1969) and Block B (1970–1999). The results show that: the frequency of AC is significantly greater in ED than in the remaining genres for both blocks, followed by RV, RP and CR; the frequency of AC is significantly higher in Block B than in Block A; and AC has increased over time in all the genres except CR. It is argued that the overall increase in AC frequency can be accounted for by the growth in the number of scientific publications over the last decades, by the scientists’ need to publish, and by the paradigmatic shift from science being assertive to becoming skeptical and probabilistic, based on claim refutability, i.e. on criticism. Cross‐generic differences are explained in terms of the communicative function of each genre and of the rank/status power relations that exist between the social role assumed by the authors of the different genres and their audience.

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