Smoothing the rough edges: Towards a typology of disclaimers in research articles

Reza Abdi


Disclaimers are generally defined as devices employed to ward off and defeat doubts and negative typifications which may result from intended conduct (Hewitt & Stokes 1975). In academic prose, writers also take advantage of disclaimers to remove any probable infelicities that could occur as a result of their research or language choices in an attempt to promote the precision and persuasive power of their text. In order to develop a clearer understanding of disclaiming in research articles (RAs), a sample of 120 RAs was selected to identify and discuss different types of disclaimers. The qualitative analysis of the corpus led to introduce six disjunctive types of disclaimers employed by writers of RAs: overt vs. covert, excluder vs. includer, internal vs. external, antecedent vs. subsequent, warning vs. clarification, and local vs. global. Each has been discussed with reference to authentic examples from various journals. Furthermore, a list of formal varieties is developed along with an opinion of what they typically target and where they tend to occur. The paper concludes with a definition of disclaimers in RAs.

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