Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 11. Number2  June 2020                                             Pp. 114-141

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 A Functional Analysis of the Thematic Organization in Electrical Engineering Research
Article Introductions Written in English By Native and Saudi Scholars: A Comparative Study


Hesham Suleiman Alyousef
Department of English Language and Literature,
Faculty of Arts, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Alaa Ahmed Alzahrani
Department of English Language & Literature,
Faculty of Arts, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia




The study of the Research Article (RA) genre has been dominated by genre analysis and corpus linguistics focusing on rhetorical moves and, or lexicogrammar, with little attention to the level of the message and the realization of different types of Theme and progression patterns. To the best of our knowledge, there is a lack of comparative studies investigating similarities/differences in the use of theme in electrical engineering RA Introductions written by native English-speaking (NES) scholars and non-native English-speaking (NNES) Saudi scholars. We address this gap using Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) approach to analyze the texture of electrical engineering RA Introduction sections written by NES scholars and NNES Saudi scholars from a message perspective. The research questions aimed to quantitatively and qualitatively investigate (1) Theme types, (2) thematic markedness, and (3) thematic progression patterns in the two data sets. After reviewing comparative research on message structure, we analyzed 117 RA Introductions written by experienced NES/NNES authors. The results accord with research comparing thematic organization in native English scholars’ writings and those from cultural background other than Arabic. The findings showed that NESs’ and Saudi NNESs’ introductions overlap at a clause level, but they start to diverge beyond the clause. This study provides a good starting point for understanding NNES Saudi scholars’ use of underexplored linguistic items. The results of the current study offer insights for academic writing instruction and material developers.
Keywords: comparative study, engineering research articles, functional analysis, native and Saudi scholars, thematic organization.

Cite as: Alyousef , H. S., & Alzahrani, A. A. (2020). A Functional Analysis of the Thematic Organization in Electrical Engineering Research Article Introductions Written in English By Native and Saudi Scholars: A Comparative Study. Arab World English Journal11 (2) 114-141.


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Hesham Suleiman Alyousef is an associate professor at the Department of English and
Literature at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Currently, he teaches and supervises
several postgraduate students. He received his PhD in 2014 from the University of Adelaide,
Australia. Dr Hesham has published several book chapters and papers in refereed journals. Dr
Hesham has over 30 years of experience in teaching ESL/EFL. ORCID:

Alaa Ahmed Alzahrani is an academic researcher and a PhD candidate at King Saud
University. She has received her BA in English Translation and MA in Applied Linguistics in
2015 and 2018, respectively. She graduated with first-class honors from both programs. Her
recent publication appeared in The International Journal for Applied Linguistics and English
Literature. ORCID:

The authors are indebted to the two anonymous reviewers for their insightful and helpful
comments. The authors also wish to express their gratitude to both the Deanship of Scientific
Research and the RSSU at King Saud University for technical support, and to the Research
Centre at the Faculty of Arts for funding and support of the present study.