A Keyword Analysis of Stance and Engagement in Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) Presentations

Wenhsien Yang


Due to the increasing influence of promotional culture on academic discourse, new marginal genre texts with informative and promotional purposes are emerging. In this study, we investigated a novel promotional but under-researched academic spoken genre, 3MT (three-minute thesis) presentations, which only allow the speakers 3 minutes to promote their research findings. We generated keywords of this genre using size effect metrics to identify the features of 3MT presentations delivered by PhD candidates and trained undergraduate ESP learners. The addressors were compared in their use of personal pronouns to present their stance and to interact with the audience. The results revealed that the PhD candidates tended to highlight the values and rationale of their research, whereas the ESP learners placed greater emphasis on their methodology. The PhD candidates were better at using rhetorical devices, i.e. reader pronouns and inclusive we, to invite the audience into their discourse community. Some similarities between the two groups were also identified. For example, ‘you’ was less deployed by both groups compared with its use in other academic spoken genre texts. Our study shows that genres are not only evolving and changing but are also heavily affected by technology advancements. Findings can also help ESP practitioners better prepare learners to make persuasive presentations in minimal time by employing personal pronouns.


three-minute thesis presentations; attendant genres; stance and engagement; personal pronouns; promotional academic discourse; keyword analysis

Full Text:



Alkhammash, R. (2020). Discursive representation of the EU in Brexit-related British Media. GEMA Online® Journal of Language Studies. 20(1), 77-91.

AWEC (Academic Writing Education Centre). (2018). 3MT Promo. Retrieved on 8 August, 2018 from http://www.awec.ntu.edu.tw/announcements.html?sn=64

Barrett, N. E. (2010). A corpus-based analysis of English articles in Taiwanese students’ EFL writing. Unpublished Master Thesis, Taiwan: National Cheng Kung University.

Bhatia, V. K. (2005). Generic patterns in promotional discourse. In H. Halmari & T. Virtanen (Eds.), Persuasion Across Genres: A Linguistic Approach (pp. 213-225). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Bondi, M. & Scott, M. (Eds.). (2010). Keyness in Texts. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Bunton, D. (2002). Generic moves in PhD thesis introductions. In J. Flowerdew (Ed.), Academic discourse (pp. 57-75). London: Longman.

Bunton, D. (1999). The use of higher level metatext in Ph.D theses. English for Specific Purposes. 18, S41-S56.

Campagna, S., Garzone, G., Ilie, C. & Rowley-Jolivet, E. (Eds.). (2012). Evolving genres in Web-mediated communication. Bern: Peter Lang.

Carter-Thomas, S. & Rowley-Jolivet, E. (2003). Analysing the scientific conference presentation (CP): A methodological overview of a multimodal genre. ASp. la revue du GERAS. 39-40, 59-72.

Charles, M. (2003). ‘This mystery…’: a corpus-based study of the use of nouns to construct stance in theses from two contrasting disciplines. Journal of English for Academic Purposes. 2(4), 313-326.

Elsevier. (2014). Research highlights. Retrieved on 28 July, 2014 from http://researchhighlights.elsevier.com/?


Elsevier. (2020). Highlights. Retrieved on 15 April, 2020 from https://www.elsevier.com/authors/journal-authors/highlights

Fairclough, N. (1995). Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Longman.

Feak, C. B. (2013). ESP and speaking. In B. Paltridge, & S. Starfield (Eds.), The Handbook of English for Specific Purposes (pp. 35-53). Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Feak, C. B. (2016). EAP support for postgraduate students. In K. Hyland, & P. Shaw (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of English for academic purposes (pp. 489-501). London: Routledge.

Flowerdew, J. & Forest, R. (2009). Schematic structure and lexico-grammatical realization in corpus-based genre analysis: The case of research in the PhD literature review. In M. Charles, S. Hunston & D.

Pecorari (Eds.), Academic Writing: At The Interface Of Corpus And Discourse (pp. 15-36). London: Continuum.

Gabrielatos, C. (2018). Keyness analysis: Nature, metrics and techniques. In C. Taylor & A. Marchi (Eds.), Corpus Approaches To Discourse: A Critical Review (pp. 225-258). Oxford: Routledge.

Gabrielatos, C. & Marchi, A. (2011). Keyness: Matching metrics to definitions. Corpus Linguistics in the South 1, University of Portsmouth, 5 November 2011. Accessed on 21 August, 2019 from


Groom, N. (2009). Phraseology and epistemology in academic book reviews: A corpus-driven analysis of two humanities disciplines. In K. Hyland, & G. Diani (Eds.), Academic Evaluation: Review Genres In

University Settings (pp. 122-139). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hardie, A. (2014). Log ratio: An informal introduction. Retrieved on 21 August, 2019 from http://cass.lancs.ac.uk/log-ratio-an-informal-introduction/

Huebner, T. (1983). A longitudinal analysis of the acquisition of English. Ann Arbour: Karoma Publisher.

Hu, G. & Liu, Y. (2018). Three minute thesis presentations as an academic genre: A cross-disciplinary study of genre moves. Journal of English for Academic Purposes. 35, 16-30.

Hyland, K. (2001). Bring in the reader: Addressee features in academic writing. Written Communication. 18(4), 549-574.

Hyland, K. (2004). Patterns of engagement: Dialogic features and L2 undergraduate writing. In L. Ravelli & R. A. Ellis (Eds.), Analysing Academic Writing: Contextualised Frameworks (pp. 5-23). London:


Hyland, K. (2005). Stance and engagement: A model of interaction in academic discourse. Discourse Studies. 7(2), 173-192.

Hyland, K. (2011). Projecting an academic identity in some reflective genres. Ibérica 21, 9-30.

Hyland, K. (2012a). Disciplinary Identities: Individuality and Community in Academic Discourse. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Hyland, K. (2015). Genre, discipline and identity. Journal of English for Academic Purposes. 19, 32-43.

Hyland, K. & Guinda, C. S. (Eds.). (2012). Stance and Voice in Written Academic Genres. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hyland, K. & Tse, P. (2012). ‘She has received many honours’: Identity construction in article bio statements. Journal of English for Academic Purposes. 11(2), 155-165.

Ionin, T., Ko, H. & Wexler, K. (2004). Article semantics in L2 acquisition: The role of specificity. Language Acquisition. 12(1), 3-69.

Kärkkäinen, E. (2006). Stance taking in conversation: From subjectivity to intersubjectivity. Text & Talk- An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse Communication Studies. 26(6), 699-731.

Kwan, B. S. C. (2006). The schematic structure of literature reviews in doctoral thesis of applied linguistics. English for Specific Purposes. 25, 30-55.

Martin, J. R. & White, P. (2005). The language of evaluation: Appraisal in English. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

McGrath, L. & Kuteeva, M. (2012). Stance and engagement in pure mathematics research articles: Linking discourse features to disciplinary practices. English for Specific Purposes. 31(3), 161-173.

Mežek, Š. & Swales, J. M. (2016). PhD defences and vivas. In K. Hyland, & P. Shaw (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of English for Academic Purposes (pp. 361-375). London: Routledge.

Okamura, A. & Shaw, P. (2014). Development of academic journal abstracts in relation to the demands of stakeholders. In M. Bondi, & R. Lores Sanz (Eds.), Abstracts In Academic Discourse: Variation And

Change (pp. 287-318). Bern: Peter Lang.

Pérez-Llantada, C. (2016). How is the digital medium shaping research genres? Some cross-disciplinary trends. ESP Today. 4, 22–42

Pojanapunya, P. & Todd, R. W. (2018). Log-likelihood and odds ratio: Keyness statistics for different purposes of keyword analysis. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory. 14(1), 133-167.

Rossette-Crake, F. (2019). TED Talks. Public Speaking and the New Oratory. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Rowley-Jolivet, E. (2002a). Science in the making: Scientific conference presentations and the construction of facts. In E. Ventola, C. Shalom, & S. Thompson (Eds.), The Language of Conferencing (pp. 95-125).

Frankfurt, Germany: Peter Lang.

Rowley-Jolivet, E. (2002b). Visual discourse in scientific conference papers: A genre-based study. English for Specific Purposes. 21(1), 19-40.

Rowley-Jolivet, E. & Carter-Thomas, S. (2005). The rhetoric of conference presentation introductions: Context, argument and interaction. International Journal of Applied Linguistics. 15(1), 45-71.

Samraj, B. (2008). A discourse analysis of master's theses across disciplines with a focus on introductions. Journal of English for Academic Purposes. 7(1), 55-67.

Scott, M. (2016). Wordsmith Tools version 7. Stroud: Lexical Analysis Software.

Scott, M. & Tribble, C. (2006). Textual Patterns: Keywords And Corpus Analysis In Language Education. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Stubbs, M. (2010). Three concepts of keywords. In M. Bondi & M. Scott (Eds.), Keyness in Texts (pp. 21-42). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Swales J. (1984). Research into the structure of introductions to journal articles and its application to the teaching of academic writing. In R. William, J. Swales & J. Kirkman (Eds.), Common Ground: Shared

Interests in ESP and Communication Studies (pp. 77-86). Oxford: Pergamon.

Swales, J. (1990). Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Swales, J. M. (2004). Research Genres: Explorations and Applications. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Swales, J. M. & Feak, C. (2011). Navigating academia: Writing supporting genres. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Taki, S. & Jafarpour, F. (2012). Engagement and stance in academic writing: A study of English and Persian research articles. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences. 3(1), 157-168.

Thomas, M. (1989). The acquisition of English articles by first-and second-language learners. Applied Psycholinguistics. 10(3), 335-355.

Thompson, P. (2005). Points of focus and position: Intertextual reference in PhD theses. Journal of English for Academic Purposes. 4(4), 307-323.

Tribble, C. (2013). Corpora and corpus analysis: New windows on academic writing. In J. Flowerdew (Ed.), Academic Discourse (pp. 131-149). Oxon: Routledge.

UQ (The University of Queensland). (2018). About Three Minute Thesis. Retrieved on 8 August, 2018 from https://threeminutethesis.uq.edu.au/about

Vassileva, I. (1998). Who am I/who are we in academic writing? A contrastive analysis of authorial presence in English, German, French, Russian and Bulgarian. International Journal of Applied Linguistics. 8(2),


WordSmith Tools Manual. (2019). How key words are calculated. Retrieved on 21 August, 2019 from https://lexically.net/downloads/version7/HTML/keywords_calculate_info. html?anchor=log_ratio

Yang, W. H. (2013b). Keyness in academic textbook blurbs: Lexical variations across disciplines. In The proceedings of 2012 English Learning and Teaching (pp. 63-72). Ping-tung, Taiwan: National Ping-tung

University of Science and Technology.

Yang, W. (2016). Evaluative language and interactive discourse in journal article highlights. English for Specific Purposes. 42, 89-103.

Yang, W. (2017). Audioslide presentations as an attendant genre: Key words, personal pronouns, stance and engagement. ESP Today. 5(1), 24-45.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17576/gema-2020-2002-01


  • There are currently no refbacks.




eISSN : 2550-2131

ISSN : 1675-8021