Linguistics and Literature Studies Vol. 6(1), pp. 17 - 26
DOI: 10.13189/lls.2018.060103
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The Use of Relative Clauses in Humanities and Social Sciences Research Articles: A Case Study

Tanju Deveci 1,*, Roger Nunn 2
1 College of Arts & Sciences, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, the UAE
2 Department of Writing Studies, The American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, the UAE


For authors to publish their research papers in peer-reviewed journals, it is important to provide a clear rationale for their study, have a strong methodology, interpret their findings effectively, and highlight the contribution of their study to existing literature. However strong these aspects of content may be, it is nonetheless authors' language and communication competence that influence whether or not the message is conveyed to readers successfully. To this end, authors need to be meticulous in sentence construction. Varying sentence complexity is one important consideration in this respect. Although relative clauses play a significant role in sentence complexity, they have received relatively limited attention from researchers investigating academic writing. This case study is an attempt to identify how authors in humanities and social sciences use relative clauses in their research articles. To this end, we investigated their use in research papers in five journals. Our corpus was comprised of 22,801 running words. Data revealed that relative clauses accounted for 40% of the total number of sentences in the corpus. They were more commonly used in the introduction and discussion & conclusion sections. Reduced relative clauses were also generally more common than full relative clauses, with comparatively frequent use in the results section. We also found that the active voice was more dominant than the passive voice in relative clauses in all sections except the methodology, discussion and conclusion sections. We discuss the results from the perspective of transitivity, and offer some recommendations.

Relative Clauses, Sentence Complexity, Academic Writing, Scientific Writing, Sentence Length

Cite this paper
Tanju Deveci , Roger Nunn (2018). The Use of Relative Clauses in Humanities and Social Sciences Research Articles: A Case Study. Linguistics and Literature Studies, 6 , 17 - 26. doi: 10.13189/lls.2018.060103.