A Genre Analysis of English and Chinese Legal Research Article Abstracts: A Corpus-based Approach


  • Jing Duan Southwest University of Political Science and Law
  • Jing Wei Southwest University




legal RA abstracts, genre, move analysis, move structure


Research article (RA) abstracts are generally viewed as the gateway to know the gist and major findings of a study. They also function as a “promotional” genre to attract readers’ interest and increase readership so as to better engage the authors in the academic communities. Although RA abstracts as a genre have been gaining more attention over the years, there is still a lack of study on RA abstracts in the field of law, let alone cross-linguistic study concerning them. Therefore, this study investigates English and Chinese legal RA abstracts from the perspective of genre, analyzes their move structures, frequency and features, and then compares the similarities and differences of them in two different languages. To this end, a corpus consisting of 60 RA abstracts was compiled, 30 randomly selected from three prestigious English law journals and 30 from three Chinese law journals. The move analysis was conducted based on an adjusted model of four moves. The results reveal that the moves of Introduction, Gap-filling and Contribution are obligatory while that of Methodology is optional in both languages. However, English abstracts, with more complicated move structures than Chinese ones, tend to state explicitly the purposes of study while Chinese abstracts show a preference for pointing out the “Gap” first.

Author Biographies

Jing Duan, Southwest University of Political Science and Law

School of Foreign Languages

Jing Wei, Southwest University

College of International Studies


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