An Exploration of the Generic Structures of Problem Statements in Research Article Abstracts

Kazeem K. Olaniyan


Studies on research article abstracts have examined the abstracts in their entirety. Besides, while some of these works concentrate on conference abstracts, most of them analyse a combination of research abstracts from a variety of disciplines outside arts-based disciplines. Problem statement segments of the abstracts are yet to be exclusively studied. Motivated by the paucity of work of this kind, this article therefore explores the generic structures of problem statements in arts-based research article abstracts. The study got its data from purposively selected three hundred arts-based research article abstracts published in learned journals in the inner circle between 2001 and 2010. The data were analysed using insights from the generic structure potential, mood and modality aspects of SFG. Out of the five generic structural features that were found to characterise the abstracts, only two namely; Picking Out Inexistent Works(PIW) and Picking Out Inadequacy of Existing Works(PIEW) were found to be obligatory while the rest are optional. Variants of gap identification mood categories ( e.g. gap identification moods that pick out inexistent work and those that pick out inadequacy of existing works etc.) and modality categories (possibility modals) were also found in the  data. These enhance effective statement of the communicative goals of research problems in the abstracts.  The article concludes that studying the generic structure of problem statements in the abstracts has potency of providing useful insights into how, in what form and where the research problems are stated in the abstracts.

Keywords: Research Article Abstracts, Problem Statements, Generic Structural Potential(GSP), Mood,  Modality

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