Research Articles as a Means of Communicating Science: Polish and Global Conventions

  • Aleksandra Makowska
Part of the Multilingual Education book series (MULT, volume 29)


Results of scientific research are incomplete without communicating them to the public in a permanent written form (Fathalla, A Practical Guide for Health Researchers. World Health Organization Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, Cairo, 2004, p. 119). New technological advances have enabled the exchange of information on a scale that has previously never been possible (Cabre 1998, pp. 4–5). In the era of globalization, it is advisable to share knowledge on an international scale as the institutions, such as the EU or the World Bank, encourage the exchange of knowledge and close collaboration between industry and research centers in order to remain competitiveness, strengthen the country’s economic position, and improve the quality of people’s lives (European Commission, Improving knowledge transfer between research institutions and industry across Europe: embracing open innovation. Implementing the Lisbon agenda. EUR 22836 EN, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg, 2007; Simavi et al., Art of knowledge exchange. A primer for government officials and development practitioners. The World Bank Institute, Washington, DC, 2013). On the other hand, scientists, constituting a discourse community, need a high degree of appreciation and understanding of their work in society (a scientific or technological culture) to carry out successful research (Swales, Genre analysis. English in academic and research settings. CUP, Cambridge, 1990; Godin and Gingras, Public Underst Sci 9:43–44, 2000; Fathalla, A practical guide for health researchers. World Health Organization Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, Cairo, 2004, p. 120; Wenger and Snyder, Harv Bus Rev 139–145, 2000).

Scientific articles are a form of communication because they transfer information to the readers, engaging cognitive processes on the way, involving both the sender and the receiver to a different degree and serving informational purposes (Losee, J Inf Commun Libr Sci 5:7, 1999). According to Losee (J Inf Commun Libr Sci 5:1–15, 1999), the author of the article encodes the message from their thoughts directly into the written form and the readers decode the message through the visual processes back into their thoughts; however, not all of the author’s intentions are fulfilled due to imperfections in the acquiring of the message, which are referred to as noise or errors (Losee, J Inf Commun Libr Sci 5:14, 1999). They can be caused by external or internal factors, such as the reader’s experience, because the reconceptualization process filters what they read (Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk in Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk and Thelen (eds.), Meaning in translation. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Mein, p. 108, 2010).

In order to serve communicative purposes, research articles need to follow a well-established standard, i.e., IMRAD (introduction, methods, results, and discussion); however there are no strict rules, and according to Hyland (Taiwan Int ESP J 1:5–22, 2009), compliance with the pattern depends on the discipline: The harder the science, the more compliant to the official standard the article is. Moreover, Hyland’s (Taiwan Int ESP J 1:5–22, 2009) study into scientific articles reveals that in humanities, authors present results in the form of case studies or narratives, whereas the sciences rely on “experimental proof” (Hyland, Taiwan Int ESP J 1:9, 2009), and the works are organized into the following sequence: “highlighting a gap in knowledge, presenting a hypothesis related to this gap, and then reporting experimental findings to support this” (Hyland, Taiwan Int ESP J 1:9, 2009).

Abstracts and article introductions are also subject to extensive studies. Swales (Genre analysis. English in academic and research settings. CUP, Cambridge, 1990) identifies patterns in these sections and produced the Create a Research Space (CARS) model of research introductions, which names three stages in academic writing that he called moves: establishing the territory, establishing a niche, and occupying a niche (Swales, Genre analysis. English in academic and research settings. CUP, Cambridge, 1990, pp. 150–161). However, as Maferat and Mohammadzadeh’s (Appl Res Engl Lang 2:37–49, 2013) study into literature research article abstracts in English and Persian reveals, the decisive factor in whether to follow the CARS model and the IMRD standard “is not the native language but rather the norms of the community for which the scholars write” (Maferat and Mohammadzadeh, Appl Res Engl Lang 2:47, 2013).

The purpose of this study was to analyze a bilingual corpus of 401 research articles consisting of 1,600,000 words in Polish and English. One hundred and eighty-four articles (640,000 words) were in Polish and were gathered from three sources, and 217 articles (960,000 words) were in English and came from four sources. The articles, which concern the subject field of microelectronics and computer science, were gathered from 2007 to 2014 and were written to serve informational and referential purposes. This study investigated whether the articles both followed the formal text pattern IMRAD and the CARS model and shared the linguistic characteristics provided by other scholars. It remains to be seen whether Polish cultural specificity affects Polish scientists’ writing in Polish and English or whether they succumb to the international conventions. Another query is whether the discipline of microelectronics shares the text characteristics of other hard sciences.


Research article Communication Scientific translation Specialized communication CARS model IMRAD 


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Aleksandra Makowska
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Translation StudiesInstitute of English Studies, University of LodzŁódźPoland

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