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English for Specific Purposes, Vol. 18, No.2, pp.

139--160, 1999
© 1998 The American University. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd
Pergamon All rights reserved. Printed in Great Britain
0889-4906/98 $19.00+0.00
PII: 80889-4906(98)0000 1-5

The Schematic Structure of Computer


Science Research Articles
Santiago Posteguillo

Abstract-This paper presents a linguistic description of the schematic organ-


isation of research articles in the field of computer science. Forty articles
from three different academic journals in computing research have been
analysed; the results indicate that the IMRD (introduction-methods-results-
discussion) pattern cannot be app}ied to research articles in computer science
systematically. Introductory and concluding sections, however, are used in
more instances. It is the central part of these articles which seems to depart
more from the IMRD pattern. Detailed analyses of the structure of intro-
ductions, results, and conclusions are included, and relevant comparisons with
previous studies are drawn. © 1998 The American University. Published by
Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved

Introduction
The aim of this paper is to describe the schematic organisation of academic
research articles (RAs) in the field of computer science. There have been
previous attempts (Cooper, 1985; Hughes, 1989) to analyse the models used
in introductory sections of computer science RAs, however, the appropriacy
of the IMRD (introduction, methods, results, discussion) pattern to computer
science RAs as a whole has not been tested in detail. I also present a
systematic description of those three sections (introduction, results, and
discussion/conclusion) which have been identified as the most frequently
applied in the field of computer science. The results described in this paper
are part of a wider research project on scientific and academic English which
is being carried out at Universitat Jaume I at Caste!l6, Spain.

Analysis
A corpus of 40 different RAs was selected from three different academic
journals in computing. These journals were recommended by subject tea-

Address correspondence to: Santiago Posteguillo, Departament de Filologia Anglesa i Romanica, Universitat
Jaume I, Campus ctra. de Borriol, Apartat 224, 12080, Castell<\, Spain. E-mail: postegui@fil.uji.es

139
140 S. Posteguillo

chers at the Computer Science Department at UniversitatJaume I, Castello,


Spain. In the appendix, a full reference list of the texts analysed is included.
In the analysis of the overall structure of computer science RAs, I have
taken the generally acknowledged (Swales, 1990) IMRD pattern as major
reference. Then, I have analysed those sections which appear more relevant
in computer science RAs:
(a) Introductions: In the survey of introductions, I compare a corpus of 40
introductions of computer science RAs with Swales' (1990) CARS (Cre-
ate A Research Space) model, and then, more specifically, the findings
are compared with Cooper's (1985) and Hughes' (1989) studies of intro-
ductions in computer technology.
(b) Results sections: 22 RAs in the sample include this section. Brett (1994)
proposes a series of moves for results sections in a study of sociology
papers. He classifies these moves into three main groups: metatextual
moves, presentation moves, and comment moves. Thompson (1993)
analyses comment moves in a sample of results sections from bio-
chemistry RAs. In this study, however, Brett's model has been taken as
a reference and consequently all moves have been considered.
(c) Discussion/conclusion sections: 34 RAs included this final section. Swales
(1990: 172-173) provides an exhaustive list of moves within a conclusion.
He describes a taxonomy with 8 moves which he adapted from Hopkins
and Dudley-Evans (1988): Move 1, background information; Move 2,
statement of results; Move 3 (un)expected outcome; Move 4, reference to
previous research; Move 5, explanation; Move 6, exemplification; Move
7, deduction and hypothesis; and Move 8, recommendation for further
research.

Findings

Overall Structure in Computer Science Research Articles


After analysing the sample of texts selected for this study, no structural
pattern has been identified as common to a majority of RAs. However, three
sections of the IMRD model appear systematically: introductions (100%),
results (55%) and discussion/conclusions (85%). The main problem is to ident-
ify the structural organisation of computer science papers between the
introduction and the results or conclusion. There is no structural model
applicable for all the RAs in the sample, beyond the acknowledgement that
almost all papers open with an introduction and close with a dis-
cussion/conclusion section, and that more than half add results. However, if
papers are analysed in three groups representing the three academic jour-
nals to which they belong, some more regular patterns of structural organ-
isation can be detected. Table 1 (a), (b) and (c) shows the most commonly
used sections in the journal ofParallel and Distributed Computing, The SIAM
journal on Computing, and Artificial Intelligence, respectively.
The Schematic Structure of Computer Science Research Articles 14 1

TABLE 1

Section Frequency of use %

(a) Structural Organisation in the Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing

Introduction 14 100.00%
Problem algorithm 4 28.57%
Model-implementation 6 42.86%
Other 4 28.57%
Results 9 64.28%
Discussion/conclusion 13 92.86%
(b) Structural Organisation in the SIAM Journal on Computing

Introduction 13 100.00%
Preliminaries 4 30.77%
Algorithm 5 38.46%
Other 8 61.54%
Results 4 30.77%
Discussion/ conclusion 8 61.54%
(c) Structural Organisation in Artilicial Intelligence

Introduction 13 100.00%
Preliminaries 4 30.77%
Analysis of a system or program 4 30.77%
Analysis of a problem 4 30.77%
Other 5 38.46%
Related work 3 23.08%
Results 9 69.23%
Discussion/conclusion 13 100.00%

The journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing presents two main


variations in the structural organisation of its academic papers:
(a) A problem-algorithm pattern, where a problem is introduced and an
algorithm is suggested as a possible solution; and,
(b) A model-implementation pattern; in this case, a model (a computing
design or architecture) is presented and the results of its implementation
are analysed.
In this journal, an independent section for results is used quite frequently
(64.28%).
Secondly, in The SIAM journal on Computing, several papers organise
their structure through the description and analysis of an algorithm. In this
case, the section preliminaries is also used at the beginning of the paper to
introduce relevant mathematical data. However, 8 RAs in this journal neither
follow this pattern nor any other systematic model. A section for results is
used in 4 papers (30. 77%).
Thirdly, RAs in Artificial Intelligence divide into two patterns similar to
those found in The journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing:
(a) On the one hand, several papers focus on the analysis of a problem for
which possible solutions are suggested;
142 S. Posteguillo

(b) The second group of RAs introduce and analyse the performance of a
new program or system.
However, in Artificial Intelligence, two specific sections appear: prelimi-
naries, where basic mathematical input, necessary for the development of
the RA, is presented; and related work, towards the end, where some authors
relate their investigation to other colleagues' research (see Table 1 (c)). The
results section is used in 69.23% of the papers.

Introductions in Computer Science RAs


Swales' (1990: 141) CARS model for introductions consists of three moves
each with several steps; each one of these steps or subsections are some-
times concurrent, sometimes optional. Table 2 below shows the results
obtained analysing each of the 40 introductions following the CARS model.
In the left column I include the name of each step and on the right column
one may read the number of introductions in which that step was used by
the author.

A. Move 1. According to Swales, Move 1 Step 1 (claiming centrality):


appeals to the discourse community whereby members are asked to
accept that the research about to be reported is part of a lively, sig-
nificant or well-established research area. (Swales, 1990: 144)
In a total corpus of 158 introductions, Swales (1990: 144) reports an average

TABLE2
The CARS Model in Computer Science RA Introductions

Moves Frequency of Use %

MOVE 1. Establishing a territory

Step 1. Claiming centrality 19 47.50


Step 2. Making topic generalisation 26 65.50
Step 3. Reviewing items of previous research 30 75.00

MOVE 2. Establishing a niche

Step lA. Counter-claiming 1 2.50


Step lB. Indicating a gap 23 57.50
Step lC. Question-raising 9 22.50
Step lD. Continuing a tradition 9 22.50

MOVE 3. Occupying the niche

Step lA. Outlining purposes 10 25.00


Step lB. Announcing present research 38 95.00
Step 2. Announcing principal findings 28 70.00
Step 3. Indicating RA structure 28 70.00
The Schematic Structure of Computer Science Research Articles 143

use of Step 1 of slightly less than 50%. In my sample this percentage is


corroborated (47.50%). Some examples in this corpus are:
(i) Pattern recognition is one of these important tasks that demands exten-
sive ... (RA 6)
(ii) The problem of augmenting a graph to reach a certain connectivity
requirement by adding edges has important applications in ... (RA 9)
(iii) Finding all instances of a string W in a large text A is an important
matching problem ... (RA 10)
(iv) Knowledge-based expert systems, such as XCON [1], are increasingly
used as ... (RA 14)

Step 2, within the same Move 1 (making topic generalisations), is frequently


used by authors of computer science RAs (65.00%), and frequently rep-
resents the opening remarks in these papers.

B. Move 2. Step lA, in Move 2 (counter-claiming), seems to be systematically


avoided by authors in this field (only 2.5%). Counter-claiming is not regarded
as a proper way to introduce the problem which motivates the research in
question. Instead, step 1B (indicating a gap), appears as the preferred means
of presenting the need for the work (57.00%). Steps 1C (question-raising),
and 1D (continuing a tradition), are also used, although less frequently
(22.50% in both cases). Although there are several ways of starting this
move, the use of however is by far the most common:
(i) However, the innovations are often constrained ... (RA 1)
(ii) However, this implementation of ... involves the realization of
only ... (RA 7)
(iii) However, constructing such expert systems often requires ... (RA 14)
(iv) However, the ways in which the problem may be structured are quite
different when ... (RA 13)
Other possible alternative openings for this second move are:
(i) The problem of finding a k-chain is ... (RA 11)
(ii) Currently, one of the most important open questions about checkability
is ... (RA 12)
(iii) Yet, the implementation of a passive optical star has some major syn-
chronization problems: ... (RA 8)

These are expressions which indicate a problem to be solved or a limitation


of previous research work which justifies the RA in question.
An important distinctive feature of Move 2 is its cyclical nature (Cooper,
1985; Crookes, 1986; Hopkins & Dudley-Evans, 1988); that is, it is normal
to find this move repeated in a series of instances throughout the same
introduction, usually alternating with steps in Move 1. As Swales puts it:
niche-establishment does not necessarily occur only at the end of a
144 S. Posteguillo

literature review, but may follow reviews of individual items, so that


cycles of Move 1/Step 3 and Move 2 recur. (Swales, 1990: 158)
This cyclical pattern of Move 2 is clearly typical of introductions in RAs
in computer science: 75% of introductions in the corpus show a cyclical
pattern for Move 2. Table 3 reproduces one example of this cyclicity.

C. Move 3. Step 1A (Outlining purposes) in Move 3 is used in 25% of these


introductions to begin this last section. Typical examples are:
(i) One goal of our research is ... (RA 18)
(ii) This motivates a second goal in our research: to develop ... (RA 20)
(iii) We are trying to find the simplest language that. .. (RA 16)
However, the most frequent opening of Move 3 (95%) is Step 1B (announcing
present research) of which there are many instances:
(i) This paper describes what could be termed as ... (RA 16)
(ii) This paper explores an alternative to ... (RA 14)
(iii) In this paper we present an efficient parallel algorithm for ... (RA 9)
(iv) Here, we characterize the degree of improvement that ... (RA 2)
Step 2 in Move 3 (announcing principal findings) is also quite widespread in
its use among academic writing in computer science (70% of introductions
include findings). Examples are:
(i) Our results carry over to a hybrid approach in a straight forward
manner, and ... (RA 2)
(ii) Figure 1 summarizes one result in how ... (RA 3)
(iii) We present an efficient algorithm making ... (RA 13)
Finally, with the lack of a well-defined macrostructure for RAs in this field,
it is only natural that an indication of RA organisation should be welcomed
by readers, even if they are specialists in the field. Some examples of Move
3-Step 3 in the sample are:

TABLE3
Example of Move 2 in a Cyclical Pattern (RA4)

MOVEl The current trend in local area networks is toward higher communications
bandwidth as we progress from Ethernet networks that operate at 10 Mbit/s to
higher speed optical networks ...
MOVE2 The design of such high speed optical networks will eventually be limited by ...
MOVEl Currently, intensive research is focused on removing the 0/E and E/0 con-
version bottleneck by proposing design alternatives to achieve transmission as
well as switching in optical technology.
MOVE2 Optical technology is still in its infancy and its capability to perform complex
routing and switching functions lags behind what can be done ...
MOVEl Other optics networks use time-division and wavelength-division multiplexing to
design ...
MOVE2 The former approach suffers from ...
The Schematic Structure of Computer Science Research Articles 145

(i) The paper is organized as follows .... (RA 10)


(ii) This paper is organized as follows .... (RA 11)
(iii) The remainder of this paper is organized as follows .... (RA 13)
The extreme example of this tendency is in a paper in the Artificial
Intelligence journal, in which Move 3-Step 3 has an independent sub-section
within the introduction headed as "1.2. Structure of this paper", with three
paragraphs dedicated to the sole purpose of giving a full account of the
contents of each section in the RA.

Results in Computer Science RAs


Table 4 shows the different moves used in the 22 results sections identified
in the sample of computer science RAs, taking Brett's (1994) model as a
reference.

A. Move 1. (Pointer) refers to those shifts in the RA to indicate which data


are being discussed, usually by means of signalling figures or tables to be
found interspersed in the text. Examples of this move in the RAs in the
sample are:
(i) The measured mean errors are given in Figs 3-5. (RA 39)
(ii) Figure 2 gives a pictorial representation of ... (RA 38)
(iii) After the second phase, the recognition part had basically the structure
shown in Fig. 4. (RA 34)
Pointers such as the ones above may appear in other sections in the RA,
but since most figures, tables and other graphical input are concentrated on
results, this move becomes a characteristic rhetorical feature of this RA
section.

TABLE4
Moves in Results in Computing RAs. Classification Based on Brett (1994: 52-54)

Move Frequency of use %

1. Metatextual categories
1.1. Pointer 17 77.27%
1.2. Structure of section 8 36.36%
2. Presentation categories
2.1. Procedural 16 72.73%
2.2. Hypothesis restated 7 31.82%
2.3. Statement of data 17 77.27%
3. Comment categories
3.1. Comparison of finding with Literature 11 50.00%
3.2. Evaluation 14 63.63%
3.3. Further research suggested 1 4.54%
3.4. Implications 3 13.64%
3.5. Summarising 2 9.09%
146 S. Posteguillo

B. Move 1.2. (structure of section) " indicates the order and content of the
text which follows" (Brett, 1994: 52). This move is related to indicating RA
structure in introductions. RAs in computing use this rhetorical shift in results
frequently (36.36%), though not systematically. If the results section is close
to an introductory indicating RA structure move, the use of another similar
move is redundant. But, if there are a number of sections between intro-
duction and results, the writer may feel that a structural clarification of the
organisation of the paper is needed. An example reads as follows:
In this section, we formally define b-suffix trees and introduce several
parameters of these trees that are widely used in the complexity analy-
sis of algorithms on words and data compression schemes. Next, we
present all of our main results. We delay most of the proof to the next
section. Finally, we discuss some consequences of our findings. (RA
28)

C. Move 2.1. (procedural) explains how the data analysed have been
produced. This move appears systematically in results in computer science
RAs (72. 73%). Computer scientists explain the way in which they have
gathered their data with sentences like the following:
(i) Some tradeoff studies were performed using the example in Section 4.1.
We studied the role-of intersubtask communication in synthesis of the
systems. The study was performed by varying the ratio between com-
munication times and execution times. (RA 24)
(ii) We have compared the running time of A2 and KT experimentally.
Casting the scenario sketched above in terms of the algorithms we
consider as inputs bipartite graphs with ... (RA 24)

D. Move 2.2. (hypothesis restated) re-establishes the hypothesis and/ or objec-


tives of the research work in progress. This move appears more selectively
than the previous ones illustrated above, in 31.82% of the results sections
analysed. However, its appearance seems to be linked to the length of the
RA, as in the case of Move 1.2 (structure of section): if a number of sections
are interspersed between the introduction, where the hypotheses and objec-
tives of the research are outlined, and results, the writer may feel that it is
necessary to restate these objectives before presenting the data obtained in
the investigation. It has been noticed that RAs in the journal of Parallel
and Distributed Computing do not use this move, while RAs in Artificial
Intelligence and The SIAM journal on Computing, which are longer, use
Move 2.1 in 63.63% of their papers. An example of hypothesis restated reads
as follows:
11. Results
The major hypothesis advanced in this paper is that in a significant
number of inductive proofs the ripple tactic alone will successfully
The Schematic Structure of Computer Science Research Articles 14 7

guide the step case between the application of the inductive rule to the
use of the induction hypothesis. We predict that we can use ...
To test this prediction we have used ... (RA 31)

E. Move 2.3. (statement of data) "extracts meaning from the numerical data
with a written statement about it" (Brett, 1994: 53). It should be noted that
if not all results sections analyses include a statement of data move as one
could expect, it is because computer scientists frequently do not limit their
comments on the data to simple statements; instead, many researchers in
computing prefer to evaluate their results and not just give a neutral account
of them, as it is shown below (see Move 3.2). Examples of statement of data
are:
(i) In 72 percent (18 times out 25) of the cases, the learned operator has
an equivalent or more general LHS and RHS than the corresponding
hand coded operator. (RA 40)
(ii) In particular, VBL learned 20 distinct operators from the 25 examples
described in the above experiment ... When VBL is given an instance
of one of these operators, it learns an operator that states that any
boolean function F can be implemented by a circuit comprised of a
module computing-Fin series with an inverter. (RA 14)

F. Move 3.1. (comparison of finding with literature) relates the results


obtained with other researchers' findings. This comparison in computer
science RAs can take three forms:
(i) The results are simply related to other scientists' work, as in the fol-
lowing example:
The pignistic probability distribution was first presented by Williams (7)
and Dubois and Prade (2). Because of the results of Smets, I shall use a
measure of distance between the pignistic probability distributions
of... (RA39)
(ii) The findings are considered better than the previous research:
Recent results of Impagliazzo, Levin, and Luby (ILL) and Hastad (H),
inspired by the current work, has resolved the problem of equivalence of
existence of one-way functions and pseudorandom generators, in the
affirmative. However, in the light of the inefficiency of their construction,
some of the ideas presented in the current work may be useful in future
attempts to construct more efficient pseudorandom generators from one-
way functions. (RA 18)
(iii) The comparison may also be established with a similar product in the
market, and not necessarily to equivalent academic work. In this case,
the comparison offinding move may read as follows:
6.2. Comparison of PHOEBUS with Electronic Database Machines.
148 S. Posteguillo

In order to better appreciate the potential of PHOEBUS, a comparison


with other database machines is attempted in this section. Two parallel
electronic database computers are chosen for this purpose: the Teradata
computer DBC/1012 and the Gamma machine. (RA 5)

G. Move 3.2. (evaluation), as its name indicates, evaluates the findings of


the research. This evaluation can be presented in two ways:
(i) To confirm the hypothesis of the investigation, as in the following
examples:
This work has confirmed that our approach provides results that are
superior to the Kf algorithm for the situations studied. (RA 24)
(ii) To indicate that the findings are unexpected and, sometimes, contrary
to the initial hypothesis of the investigations, as in the following example:
Contrary to our expectation, the BF strategy seems to perform slightly
worse than the FF strategy. This is probably because ... (RA 35)

H. Move 3.3. (further research suggested) appears very rarely in results in


computer science RAs (only in 1 instance out of the 22 sections considered).
This may be because computer scientists prefer to use this move in the
conclusion of their paper (where it is used in 78.5% of concluding sections).
The example found in results is the following one:
Of course, further research is needed to overcome the technology
problems and make the first optoelectronic database machine a reality.
(RA40)

I. Move 3.4. (implications) suggests what the main consequences of the


findings are. It is only used occasionally (13.64%). An example of this move
3.4, as used in results, is:
Theorems 1 and 2 find several applications in combinatorial problems
on words, data compression, and molecular biology. In general, our
findings can be used widely in problems dealing with repeated patterns
and other regularities on strings. (RA 13)

J Move 3.5. (summarising) is also only occasionally used (9.09%). An exam-


ple of a summarising move in results is:
In summary, the simulation results demonstrate the following: ... (RA
19)

K Cyclical Patterns. As in the case of introductions, cycles of moves are


common in results. In this section, the most characteristic cyclical patterns
consist of the following combinations of moves: procedural-pointer-statement
ofdata or procedural-pointer-evaluation ofdata. These two models constitute
The Schematic Structure of Computer Science Research Articles 149

the axis around which the results section is generally structured in computer
science papers.

Conclusions in Computer Science RAs


Taking Swales' list of moves within a conclusion as reference, I have
analysed the conclusions in the sample of computer science RAs in order to
see how frequently each move is used by writers in this field. Table 5 shows
the results of this analysis.

A. Move 1. (background information) is described by Swales as:


employed by authors when they wish to strengthen their discussion
by recapitulating main points, by highlighting theoretical information,
or by reminding the reader of technical information. (Swales, 1990:
172)
He considers this move to be optional, and the frequency of appearance
in the corpus (38.23%) seems to corroborate this tendency also in computer
science. Some examples of this move found in the sample read as follows:
(i) To summarize the convergence mechanism and the consequent deri-
vation of ... (RA 6)
(ii) This paper has presented a pragmatically-motivated simple logic for-
mulation that includes ... (RA 16)

B. Move 2. This move (statement of results) is the most frequently used


(79.41%), which confirms Swales' description of it as a "quasi-obligatory"
move. Some examples of this move, as found in the corpus of computer
science RAs, read as follows:
(i) This is supported by the demonstration that probabilistic Horn abduc-
tion forms ... This paper also demonstrates the correspondence
between ... (RA 16)

TABLES
Moves in Computer Science RA Conclusions

Moves Frequency of Use Percentages*

1. Background information 13 13.23


2. Statement of results 27 79.41
3. (Un)expected outcome 12 30.00
4. Reference to previous research 11 32.35
5. Explanation 7 20.58
6. Exemplification 10 29.41
7. Deduction and hypothesis 12 30.00
8. Recommendation for further research 20 58.82

*These are relative percentages indicating the frequency of use.


150 S. Posteguillo

(ii) We report on the influence of reconfigurable optical interconnects


at. .. (RA 2)
(iii) We have determined that in practical terms ... (RA 3)
(iv) We have shown that optical techniques can be applied to
database ... (RA 5)
(v) In particular, we have shown how a fully polynomial randomized
approximation scheme can be used to ... (RA 13)
Usually, move 2 appears at the beginning of a cyclical pattern in which
this move alternates with other moves.
C. Move 3. This move (expected or unexpected outcome) is used in a lower
percentage than Move 2 (only in 30% of the cases analysed). This confirms
Swales' appreciation of this move as being quite rare. Some instances of this
Move 3 in the sample are:
(i) Although the parallel algorithm follows the overall structure of our
sequential algorithm, the parallelization of some of the steps required
new insights into the problem. (RA 9)
(ii) Although the fully polynomial randomized approximation scheme for
approximating the number of extensions of a partial order is a poly-
nomial-time algorithm, the exponent on n is somewhat large and the
algorithm is quite complicated. Thus an interesting problem is ... (RA
13)
The use of although, or similar concessive expressions, seem to be the
general trend to introduce comments on unexpected outcomes.
D. Move 4. Swales (1990: 173) considers Move 4 (reference to previous
research) as one of the most commonly used; however, in my corpus this
move appears only in 32.35% of the RAs analysed. This lack of reference to
previous research would be directly related to the fact that we are dealing
with a relatively new science in which it is still common to find areas of
research where not much previous investigation has been carried out and,
consequently, there is not much previous research work which may be
referred to.
E. Moves 5 and 6. Move 5 (explanation) is closely related to Move 3,
especially in the case of unexpected outcome. It is only natural that when a
surprising result is obtained the authorIs of the research will put forward a
possible explanation for such unexpected outcome (example in Table 6).

TABLE6
An Example of Unexpected Outcome (RA2)

MOVE3 A practical problem is in how to implement the reconfiguration technology.


MOVES We can imagine using electronic PIAs that can be reconfigured on demand, but
we are then limited by the interconnection patterns that connect the PIAs since
fabricated wires cannot be moved on demand.
The Schematic Structure of Computer Science Research Articles 15 1

The use of Move 5 appears to be related to Move 3, but its frequency is


different: from 30.00% in Move 3 to 20.58% in Move 5. Swales has already
commented on the controversial relationship between these two moves:
At present the relationship between Moves 3 and 5 is somewhat
obscure, particularly as to whether it is subsequent to 3 or an alter-
native to it. (Swales, 1990: 173)
I have found instances, as in the example above, where Move 5 is sub-
sequent to 3, but no clear example of Move 5 used as an alternative to 3 has
been found. What I have discovered, however, is that some writers prefer to
resort to examples instead of explanations in order to clarify an unexpected
outcome. These exemplifications are what Swales listed as a possible Move
6 in a conclusion. Move 6 appears with a higher frequency (29.41%) than
Move 5. Some instances of Move 6 are:
(i) As an illustration, we implemented ... (RA 7)
(ii) For example, the process of verification in VBL could be made inter-
active, with ... (RA 14)
Undoubtedly, for example is the phrase most frequently used to introduce
Move 6.

F. Move 7. (deduction and hypothesis) is used in 30.00% of RAs. The aim of


this move is to put forward logical conclusions drawn out of the results
obtained in the study. Some examples read as follows:
(i) From Figs 3b and 5b, it is evident that the correlation output plane can
be divided into ... (RA 7)
(ii) In conclusion, we believe that an improved algorithm for ( ... )
needs ... (RA 11)
(iii) Thus we believe that our Bayesian model is significantly better ... (RA
15)
(iv) The paper attempts to establish the following three hypotheses ... (RA
14)
Such openings as consequently, we believe, in conclusion or a combination
of them, seem to be typical phrases used in Move 7, besides the listing of a
series of hypotheses as in the last example above.

G. Move 8. The recommendation for further research is the second most


frequent move in the sample; it is used in 58.82% of the RAs analysed. This
would not confirm Berkenkotter and Huckin's suggestion (1995: 41) that
there was a general trend among scientists to eliminate this move in order
to avoid scientific competition. This tendency could be expected to be even
more important in a field such as computer technology, in which there is a
serious commercial struggle between companies of software and hardware
for control of the market. Instead, I have found the opposite: most papers
end with suggestions for further research. For instance:
152 S. Posteguillo

(i) The techniques presented in this paper to design OITIMP can also be
applied to design ... (RA 4)
(ii) Before we proceed to the next phase of building a prototype, we will
also study issues regarding ... (RA 5)
(iii) The adaptive thresholding scheme proposed here may be extended
to ... (RA 6)
The relative absence of conventions in academic journals in computer
science results in Move 8 becoming an independent section at the end of
the RA. For instance, in The SIAM journal on Computing, there is a section
named Open Problems, which in some cases functions as a substitute for the
conclusion itself.

H. Cyclical Patterns: Moves 2-7, 2-8. Finally, there is the issue of cyclicity
of moves. This was a common feature in introductions and results. I found
similar cyclical patterns in conclusions, where a set of Move 2 alternate with
Moves 7 or 8; that is, after each result the author adds a comment in the
form of either a hypothesis or a suggestion for further research. Swales
refers to this tendency to build a conclusion in a cyclical pattern:
If there is a quasi-obligatory move in Discussion sections it is this one.
Evidence suggests, as we might expect, that it is the starting point of
cycle ( ... ) Many Discussion sections will have several cycles begin-
ning with a move 2; (Swales, 1990: 172)
Tables 7 and 8 show some of the evidence I have found in the sample. Table

TABLE7
Cyclical Pattern in a Conclusion (RA 7)

MOVE2 Experimentation shows that when the number of reference images exceeds 20,
the autocorrelation peak height becomes relatively small. Also,
autocorrelation ... As reported in Ref. [7), it was possible to store only four
minterms, thus requiring a two-channel MJTC.
MOVE7 In the present implementation, since a total of seven minterms is required for
the full adder, it is not necessary to use a multichannel MJTC. From Figs 3b and
Sb, it is evident that the correlation output plane can be divided into three distinct
regions-Rl, R2, and R3.
MOVE2 The correlation outputs can be obtained either from region R1 or from region R3
while the rest of the correlation plane information either may be suppressed or
may be used for error checking.
MOVE7 Assume that the system will generate an output 1 for the S or C output if the
autocorrelation peak intensity is at least three times higher than any of the cross
correlation peak intensity. That means ... Consequently, ...
MOVE2 Finally, a recently reported technique [13] where the crosscorrelation terms
among the different objects (i.e. the reference or stored minterms) in the input
joint image can be eliminated in the output plane may be used.
MOVE7 This implies that only the autocorrelation/ crosscorrelation terms between the
target and the reference minterms will appear in the output plane while the rest
of the crosscorrelation terms between the different reference minterms may be
suppressed.
The Schematic Structure of Computer Science Research Articles 153

TABLES
Cyclical Pattern: Rhetorical Shifts

FACT/RESULT Experimentation shows ...


DEDUCTION ... since ... it is not necessary ...
FACT/RESULT The ... can be obtained ...
DEDUCTION Assume that ... that means ... Consequently ...
FACT/RESULT a ... may be used.
DEDUCTION This implies ...

7 shows a cyclical pattern where Move 2 alternates with Move 7 (results-


hypotheses and/or deductions):
Though I have tried to eliminate any technical information that is not
necessary to follow the text, I have added in Table 8, above, a skeleton of
the opening phrases which helps identify the transitions between Moves 2
and 7, from a fact/result to a deduction, and again back to a fact, and so
forth:
Another possible cyclical pattern is the combination of Moves 2 and 8;
that is, the author states results, and from them, proposes possible lines for
further research.

Discussion
This investigation into the structural organisation of computer science
RAs indicates that these academic papers open with an introduction which
is then followed by either the explanation of an algorithm or the process of
implementing a system, program, or application. These explanatory sections
can be framed into what is generally termed as methods, but computer
engineers avoid this term, and make subdivisions in their explanations or
add comments comparing their applications and algorithms with those of
other fellow researchers to the point of making a clear definition of this
section quite difficult. Next, results are presented in the form of the descrip-
tion of architectures, designs, or models which are the consequence of the
algorithms or applications explained in the previous sections. Results may
also appear included in the introduction, in the form of a preview, or in the
conclusion of the RA in the form of a summary. Finally, most papers close
with a conclusion section.
Cooper (1985: 28) already commented on the problems of applying the
IMRD pattern to articles in electronic engineering. She found that the com-
puter science papers in her sample only included an abstract, an introduction,
and a reference section systematically. Only two-thirds had an independent
conclusion section. However, these blurred structural patterns which are to
be found in computer science RAs should not be considered a surprising
feature if one considers the practical orientation or the relative newness of
this academic discipline. In fact, my results corroborate Dudley-Evans and
Henderson's (1990) view on the matter. These authors argue that a sub-
154 S. Posteguillo

stantial period of time is required for a schematic structural pattern to


be systematically reproduced. To illustrate this opinion, Dudley-Evans and
Henderson analysed the evolution of article introductions in economic RAs
throughout the twentieth century and suggested the existence of three
distinct introduction patterns in the lapse of 100 years. These patterns were
sequential and illustrated the continuous process of transformation of RAs
in economics. Something similar is happening with computer science RAs
as a whole. It is very likely that further research into the structure of RAs
in computer science will produce more systematic patterns in the future.
Atkinson's (1993) analysis of the evolution of RAs from 1675 to 1975, pub-
lished by the Royal Society, also supports this view of the constant evolution
of RAs as a genre.
Taking into account this lack of systematicity in the overall structure of
computer science papers, I have focused on the analysis of those sections
which appear more frequently: introductions, results, and conclusions.
Introductions in RAs in general are the most widely studied section in this
genre. I have selected Swales' CARS model of introductions (1990: 141) as
the most exhaustive description of all the possible rhetorical shifts which
may be found in this section. In Swales' model, introductions have three
main moves, each one divided into various steps (see Table 2). I have also
compared results with the work of Cooper (1985) and Hughes (1989),
since both studies focused on the analyses of computing technology RA
introductions.
In contrast with the findings about the IMRD pattern for the whole of the
RA, the CARS model does seem applicable to introductions in computer
science RAs. Nevertheless, relevant variations have been detected which
require further consideration.
The first of these substantial differences is the application of the review of
previous research move (Move 1, Step 3 in the CARS model). Swales con-
siders the first two other steps in Move 1 (claiming centrality and making
topic generalisation) as optional, but the third step, review ofprevious research,
he defines as obligatory: all authors in all areas of investigation have to
comment on past research work before describing their own. Computer RA
introductions do use the claiming centrality and the making topic gen-
eralisation steps on an optional basis. But the review of previous research
step is not always used, as Swales contends it should be. Cooper (1985), in
her survey of introductions on computer science, quotes as many as 4
introductions out of 15 without this step. Hughes (1989) reports that only 10
out of the 20 articles in her sample make use of it. This suggests that 5 years
later this is still taking place in this discipline, with 10 out of 40 introductions
omitting the review of previous research. Cooper (1985) suggests possible
reasons for this omission: the relative newness of this discipline and-in her
opinion-the commercial orientation of these papers.
One last relevant piece of information in relation to the review of previous
research, is that the less frequent appearance of this rhetorical shift implies
a proportional reduction in the use of the counter-claiming move. This in
The Schematic Structure of Computer Science Research Articles 155

tum has effects at sentence level; for example, it has been noted (Posteguillo,
1996c) that there is a substantial decrease in the use of contrast-concession
connectors in computing RAs in comparison with other sciences (Gosden,
1992).
There is a frequent application (70%) in computer science RAs of the
announcing principal findings move (Move 3, Step 2). This tendency of
including results within the introduction produces papers whose first section
is named Introduction and results. Berkenkotter & Huckin (1995: 31-33)
suggest that RAs are increasingly read like newspaper articles, that is, they
are read quickly and later sections are skipped. This could explain the trend
detected in computer science RAs to incorporate the main findings at the
beginning of the article.
Swales (1990: 161), however, found that most RA introductions ended
with a Move 3-Step 1A (outlining purposes) or 1B (announcing present
research) instead of the Move 3-Step 2 (announcing principal findings). The
70% frequency of use of Move 3-Step 2 in computer science is reduced to
45% in physics RAs and to only 7% in educational psychology RAs (as reported
by Swales & Najjar, 1987).
Finally, computer science, a discipline without well-established con-
ventions in the written presentation of its research, accepts comments by
RA writers on the organisational pattern of their papers. Thus, Move 3, Step
3 (indicating RA structure) becomes particularly relevant in this discipline.
The use of Move 3-Step 3 seems to be more occasional in academic writing,
and its frequent use in computer science RAs represents an exception.
Cooper (1985) reports that 10 out of the 15 articles (66.66%) in her study
resorted to indicating RA structure at the end of the introduction; Hughes
(1989) found this in 11 out of 20 articles (55%), while I have found this move
in 28 out of 40 articles (70%). It seems that computer engineers have become
aware of the ambiguity in the structural organisation of their RAs and make
an effort to guide their readers.
In relation to results sections, Brett's (1994) study represents the most
detailed analysis of the moves to be found in this section of the RA. He
highlights two principal findings in his research: the cyclical organisation of
moves in results, and the relevance of procedural moves. The analysis of
results sections in computer science RAs corroborates Brett's findings. Brett
suggests that in his sample of sociology RA results sections, the two most
commonly used cyclical patterns are:

(a) pointer-statement offinding-substantiation offinding; and


(b) pointer-statement offinding-substantiation offinding-comment.

A cyclical organisation is also the most common form in which moves


are organised in RA results sections in computer science. However, some
variation on Brett's models are detected in relation to the most frequent
combination of moves. The most characteristic patterns in computer science
papers are:
156 S. Posteguillo

(a) procedural-pointer-statement offinding; and


(b) procedural-pointer-evaluation of data.
These variations to Brett's patterns, however, incorporate his second
significant finding: the relevance of procedural moves in results. This frequent
application of procedural moves, which indicate the method or process
through which the data have been obtained, can be explained by the lack of
a specific methods section in computing RAs. If there is no clearly identifiable
methods section, which the reader can refer to if there is any doubt con-
cerning the process of analysis, procedural moves in results sections act as
a substitute for an independent RA methods section.
Computer science RA concluding sections appear to be built on two
moves: the statement of results and the recommendation for further research
moves. The rest of the moves, suggested by Swales (1990) for this section,
appear less frequently, which is in line with Swales' opinion about their
optional nature. There is again the controversial exception of Move 4 (ref
erence to previous research), which Swales considers to be the most fre-
quently used. This is not so in computer science RA concluding sections,
with only 32.33% of the RA conclusions making use of it. This less frequent
reference to previous work, thus, appears as a specific characteristic of the
computer science RA; a feature which was already noticed when analysing
introductions, in line with Cooper's (1985) and Hughes' (1989) results which
indicated a tendency to omit this move in some computer science RAs.
To conclude, RAs in computer science still lack a systematic pattern.
Computer engineers seem to be aware of this fact and endeavour to some-
how offset this limitation. Some computer scientists resort to comments in
order to guide their readership through RAs with no clearly recognisable
structural model, while others try to follow more closely well-established
models common in other disciplines, or at least to use some of the sections
in these patterns (especially introductory and concluding sections).

Acknowledgements-The author of this paper is particularly grateful to Jordi


Pique (Universitat de Valencia), Alan Waters (IELE, Lancaster University),
Tony Dudley-Evans (University of Birmingham), and Greg Myers (Lanc-
aster University) for their assistance in the development of this research
and their advice when revising previous drafts of this paper.

1. An overall description of this research project on scientific and academic


English is to be found in Palmer and Posteguillo (1997). This project
also includes linguistic analyses on other significant genres in computer
science such as abstracts (Posteguillo, 1996a), popularisations (Poste-
guillo, 1996b), or textbooks (Posteguillo, 1997); additionally, com-
parative genre analyses of academic texts in business, computer science,
linguistics, psychology and chemistry have also been carried out within
the same framework (Fortanet et al., 1996, 1997).
The Schematic Structure of Computer Science Research Articles 15 7

2. Swales (1990), when discussing the IMRD pattern for research articles,
refers to the last section of academic papers as discussion. We use the
term conclusion to define these sections in computer science papers
because computer engineers systematically use this term instead of the
other.
3. This has also been noted by Swales and Feak (1995).
4. This term is used as a name for a specific move in RA conclusions, and
does not refer to the same term used in schema theory or pragmatics, to
mean shared or mutual knowledge, as used, among others, by Carrell
(1983).
5. Swales quotes Peng's (1987) study which reports the use of this move as
being very unusual (8%).
6. Both Cooper (1985) and Hughes (1989) compare their results with
Swales' (1981) earlier version of his CARS model for introductions.
This version included four main moves which Swales (1990) then
grouped into three. But the rhetorical shifts considered remain the
same, no matter the slight differences between the two classifications.
7. For instance, RA no. 18: Blass, A and Gurevich, Y. (1993) Randomizing
reductions of search problems. The SIAM journal on Computing, 22/5:
949-975.

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158 S. Posteguillo

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Posteguillo, S. (1996a). A genre-based approach to the teaching of reading
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& D.]. Viera (Eds.), English in specific settings (pp. 47-58). Valencia: Nau
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Appendix
Corpus of computer science research articles studied (the number given in brackets is used
for referencing purposes to identify the examples given in this paper):
The Schematic Structure of Computer Science Research Articles 159
(RA 1) Tewksbury, S. K, Hornak, L. A, Nariman, H. E., Langsjoen, S. M., Hall, N. ]., Hall, J.
]., & McGinnis S. P. (1993). Toward cointegration of optical interconnections within silicon
microelectronic systems. journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, 17, 188-199.
(RA 2) Murdocca, M., & Gupta, V. (1993). Architectural implications of reconfigurable optical
interconnects. journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, 17, 200-211.
(RA 3) Guha, A, & Bristow, ]. (1993). Designing optical networks from simple switching
elements. journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, 17, 212-221.
(RA 4) Wang Song, Q., Hariri, S., & Choudhary, A (1993). Design and analysis of an optical
communications processor. journal ofParallel and Distributed Computing, 17, 222-229.
(RA 5) Mitkas, P. A (1993). PHEOBUS: An optoelectronic database machine based on parallel
optical disks. journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, 17, 230-244.
(RA 6) Ahmed, F., & Awwal, A A S. (1993). An adaptive opto-electronic neural network for
associative pattern retrieval. journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, 17, 245-250.
(RA 7) Alam, M. S. & Karim, M. A (1993). Real-time optical arithmetic/logical processing.
journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, 17, 251-258.
(RA 8) Ofek, Y., & Sidi, M. (1993). Design and analysis of a hybrid access control to an optical
star using WD M. journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, 17, 259-265.
(RA 9) Hsu, T., & Ramachandran, V. (1993). Finding a smallest augmentation to biconnect a
graph. SIAM journal on Computing, 22, 889-912.
(RA 10) Mamber, U., & Myers, G. (1993). Suffix arrays: a new method for on-line string
searches. SIAM journal on Computing, 22, 935-948.
(RA 11) Ruey-Der, L., & Sarrafzadeh, M. (1993). An optical algorithm for the maximum three-
chain problem. SIAM journal on Computing, 22, 976-993.
(RA 12) Feigenbaum,]., & Fortnow, L. (1993). Random-self-reducibility of complete sets. SIAM
journal on Computing, 22, 994-1005.
(RA 13) Goldman, S. A, Rivest, R. L., & Schapire, R. E. (1993). Learning binary relations and
total orders. SIAM journal on Computing, 22, 1006-1034.
(RA 14) Mahadevan, S., Mitchell, T. M., Mostow,]., Steinberg, L., & Tadepalli, P. V. (1993).
An apprentice-based approach to knowledge acquisition. Artificial Intelligence, 64, 1-52.
(RA 15) Charniak, E., & Goldman, R. P. (1993). A bayesian model of plan recognition. Artificial
Intelligence, 64, 53-79.
(RA 16) Poole, D. (1993). Probabilistic horn abduction and bayesian networks. Artificial Intel-
ligence, 64, 81-129.
(RA 17) Halstenberg, B., & Reischuk, R. (1993). Different modes of communication. SIAM
journal on Computing, 22, 913-934.
(RA 18) Blass, A, & Gurevich, Y. (1993). Randomizing reductions of search problems. SIAM
journal on Computing, 22, 949-975.
(RA 19) Bultan, T., & Aykanat, C. (1992). A new mapping heuristic based on mean field
annealing. journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, 16, 292-305.
(RA 20) Feitelson, D. G., & Rudolph, L. (1992). Gang scheduling performance benefits for fine-
grain synchronization. journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, 16, 306-318.
(RA 21) Atallah, M. ]., Black, C. L., & Marinescu, D. C. (1992). Models and algorithms for
coscheduling compute-intensive tasks on a network of workstations. journal of Parallel and
Distributed Computing, 16, 319-327.
(RA 22) Zhu, Y. (1992). Efficient processor allocation strategies for mesh-connected parallel
computers. journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, 16, 328-337.
(RA 23) Prakash, S., & Parker, A C. (1992). SOO: Synthesis of application-specific het-
erogeneous multiprocessor systems. journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, 16, 338-
351.
(RA 24) Jain, R., Somalwar, K, Werth, J., & Browne, ]. C. (1992). Scheduling parallel I/0
operators in multiple bus systems. journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing, 16, 352-362.
(RA 25) Jiang, T. (1993). Minimal NFA problems are hard. SIAM journal on Computing, 22,
1117-1141.
(RA 26) Cai,]., Han, X., & Tarjan, R. E. (1993). An O(m log n)-time algorithm for the maximal
planar subgraph problem. SIAM journal on Computing, 22, 1142-1162.
(RA 27) Goldreich, 0., Krawezyk, H., & Luby, M. (1993). On the existence of pseudorandom
generators. SIAM journal on Computing, 22, 1163-1175.
(RA 28) Szpankowski, W. (1993). A generalized suffix tree and its (un)expected asymptotic
behaviors. SIAM journal on Computing, 22, 1176-1198.
(RA 29) Karger, D. K, Koller, D., & Phillips, S.]. (1993). Finding the hidden path: Time bounds
for all-pairs shortest paths. SIAM journal on Computing, 22, 1199-1217.
160 S. Posteguillo

(RA 30) He, X. (1993). On finding the rectangular duals of planar triangular graphs. SIAM
journal on Computing, 22, 1218--1226.
(RA 31) Bundy, A, Stevens, A., van Harmelan, F., Ireland, A, & Smail, A (1993). Rippling: A
heuristic for guiding inductive proofs. Artificial Intelligence, 62, 185-253.
(RA 32) Etzioni, 0. (1993). Acquiring search-control knowledge via static analysis. Artificial
Intelligence, 62, 255-301.
(RA 33) Selman, B. (1993). The complexity of path-based defeasible inheritance. Artificial
Intelligence, 62, 303-339.
(RA 34) Sucar, L. E., Gillies, D. F., & Gillies, D. A (1993). Objective probabilities in expert
systems. Artificial Intelligence, 61, 187-208.
(RA 35) Lindsay, R. K., Buchanan, B. G., Feigenbaum, E. A, & Lederberg,]. (1993). DENDRAL:
A case study of the first expert system for scientific hypothesis formation. Artificial Intelligence,
61, 209-261.
(RA 36) Gottlob, G., & Fermiiller, C. G. (1993). Removing redundancy from a clause. Artificial
Intelligence, 61, 263-289.
(RA 37) Ammon, K. (1993). An automatic proof of Giidel's incompleteness theorem. Artificial
Intelligence, 61, 291-306.
(RA 38) Bertoni, A, & Dorigo, M. (1993). Implicit parallelism in genetic algorithms. Artificial
Intelligence, 61, 307-314.
(RA 39) Tessem, B. (1993). Approximations for efficient computation in the theory of evidence.
Artificial Intelligence, 61, 315-329.
(RA 40) Jacobs, P. S., & Rau, L. F. (1993). Innovations in text interpretation. Artificiallntelligence,
63, 143-191.

Santiago Posteguillo teaches ESP at Universitat]aume I, Castello (Spain).


His PhD dissertation was on "Genre Analysis in English for Computer
Science". His publications are in genre studies and academic English. He is
the author of Network English. English in the World of Computers, 1997
(Castello Spain: Servei de Publications de Ia Universitat Jaume I) and he is
now coordinating English language courses on the Internet (see English for
Foreign Business (http./ /www.fue.wji.es/campus)).