Macquarie University
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Japanese materials scientists’ English for research publication purposes: an elaborated error analysis

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posted on 2024-01-29, 01:34 authored by Leigh Andrew McDowell

For scientists in the twenty-first century, the mastery of a sophisticated form of written English for publication in international journals is fundamental to professional success. For many Japanese scientists, this can be a source of frustration, as they are often aware that when writing in English, they may use language that can be perceived by editors, reviewers, or readers as errors, which may detract from the impact of their research and authority of their work. This PhD thesis-by-publication addresses this issue with an in-depth investigation of language errors in the research writing of Japanese materials scientists.

Within the broad field of Applied Linguistics, this investigation draws on and contributes to five relevant fields of study. Firstly, in the field of English for Research Publication Purposes (ERPP), the research examines the target population’s experiences in the publication of their research in English-language journals, subsequently illuminating the socially situated, complex picture of ERPP in the Japanese context. In the field of Corpus Linguistics (CL), the research documents the development of a specialised corpus of research writing and demonstrates its application in facilitating direct empirical insight into the frequency of language errors. In the fields of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) and Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL), the research explores an elaborated framework for error analysis informed by the functional descriptions of SFL, and in the process uncovers the dominance of two major error patterns involving articles, plural-s, and the preposition-of. In the field of Error Analysis (EA), the research details a simple but robust procedure for error analysis that can be applied by language teaching professionals to reliably quantify language errors and induce errors patterning. Finally and ultimately, this error analysis procedure is employed with a corpus-assisted approach to derive an empirical profile of the most frequent language errors in the research writing Japanese materials scientists.

Combined, this work aims to help Japanese scientists, who as one of the largest producers of scientific publications worldwide, wrestle daily with the challenges of employing English as a professional language. Addressing these challenges through a detailed investigation of their language errors, this thesis-by-publication offers valuable insight towards better understanding and supporting this community in their research writing practices. 


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction to the Thesis -- Chapter 2. Background -- Chapter 3. Methodology -- Chapter 4. Findings -- Chapter 5. Conclusion to the Thesis -- Appendix


Thesis by publication

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Doctor of Philosophy

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Cassandra Liardet

Additional Supervisor 1

Stephen Moore


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




191 pages

Former Identifiers

AMIS ID: 277271