Edited by Ute Römer, Viviana Cortes and Eric Friginal
[Studies in Corpus Linguistics 95] 2020
► pp. 255–278
This exploratory study investigates modal verbs as stance features in the Physical Sciences sub-corpus of the Michigan Corpus of Upper-Level Student Papers (MICUSP). The study adopts Biber’s (2006) stance framework, including modal verbs in three categories: possibility, necessity, and prediction. Focusing on one feature within one sub-corpus afforded closer consideration of the units of analysis (discipline, level of study, nativeness, and register) that could contribute to variation in the use of modals as stance features. The findings show that possibility and prediction modals are the most common in the Physical Sciences sub-corpus. The study provides a description of student academic writing and considers future research directions and pedagogical implications of stance in Physical Science disciplines, student levels, nativeness, and registers.