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Academic Writing in Science: Iraqi EFL Postgraduates’ Difficulties in Writing Abstracts of Theses and Dissertations in Physical Disciplines

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Academic writing has been a crucial area of research development in a various number of scientific disciplines and the need to this process increases and become more significant and complicated as the students shift to a higher level of education. Although many studies have been devoted to investigate the textual features of the thesis and dissertation as academic genres, few have been concerned with actual problems of EFL postgraduate students when writing these genres particularly in scientific disciplines. The abstract of thesis/dissertation represent one of the important forms of scientific discourse and scientific communication so, it is a crucial compulsory genre that has an important role in scientific academic writing especially for foreign learners of English language. This paper sheds light on the language of the abstract as a scientific academic genre and discusses its importance in thesis/dissertation. The types of the abstract as well as the common structures are also highlighted in the paper. It tackles and examines the difficulties faced by Iraqi EFL postgraduate students in physical disciplines during writing the abstracts of their theses/dissertations in English language and reasons that cause these difficulties. To achieve this purpose, the researcher uses a semi-structured interviews that were answered by the participants who were 20 M.A. and Ph.D. postgraduate students from five physical disciplines at five Iraqi universities. The data were gathered depending on two parts of the questionnaire: part1 closed questions and part2 open-ended questions. The results showed that the Iraqi EFL postgraduate students in all physical disciplines as novice writers face similar difficulties in writing the abstracts of their theses/dissertations in English language. Some of these difficulties are related to language use and linguistic realizations like grammar, vocabulary, and words. Others are related to the structural organization of abstract. These difficulties are contributed to the lack of previous experience and knowledge about the academic writing and abstract writing models, in addition the lack of integration between language development and academic development.
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Keywords: Abstract Genre; Academic Writing; EFL

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Languages, Literacies and Translation, Universiti Sains Malaysia,11800 Minden, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

Publication date: April 1, 2017

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  • ADVANCED SCIENCE LETTERS is an international peer-reviewed journal with a very wide-ranging coverage, consolidates research activities in all areas of (1) Physical Sciences, (2) Biological Sciences, (3) Mathematical Sciences, (4) Engineering, (5) Computer and Information Sciences, and (6) Geosciences to publish original short communications, full research papers and timely brief (mini) reviews with authors photo and biography encompassing the basic and applied research and current developments in educational aspects of these scientific areas.
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