Analyzing Verbs in the Discussion Section of Master's Theses Written by Iranian Foreign Language Learners


Department of English Language and Literature, Payameh Noor University, Iran


This study reports on the way nonnative Iranian writers make use of verbs in the discussion section/chapter of their master theses in the field of English Language Teaching. Although verbs have been studied extensively in academic writing, there has been little attention given to the verbs in the discussion of theses written by English Foreign Language (EFL) students. To fill this gap, sixty M.A. theses were purposively selected and analyzed. These theses were first categorized based on the research approach they had employed. There were three broad categories of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed method theses. The verbs in these theses were analyzed with reference to their reporting and nonreporting status. Then, other linguistic features; namely, tense, aspect, and voice were examined. Descriptive statistics was exploited to reveal differences among the theses representing each research approach. The findings indicated that there are no differences between the theses written within the three research approaches regarding the verbs used, except for the use of progressive aspect for the reporting verbs in the qualitative theses and the use of passive voice for the nonreporting verbs in the mixed methods theses. Suggestions for further studies on the issue and a number of implications are given at the end of this study.