In this paper, we examine the lexical profile of literary academic articles with a view to determining how they differ from research articles in other disciplines and how the vocabulary level and complexity affect reading comprehension, particularly for non-native speakers of English. For this purpose, a corpus of 110 literary articles from reputable journals was compiled and compared against two corpora featuring the same number of articles: one consisting of research articles from Science, Technology and Medicine (STM), and the other comprising research articles from social sciences and other humanities. The results reveal that the lexical profile of literary academic papers is, as expected, more similar to social sciences and other humanities than to the STM field when it comes to the coverage of general-purpose vocabulary, vocabulary level and vocabulary diversity. Despite the lexical similarities to social sciences and other humanities, the vocabulary of literary academic papers is somewhat more complex and diverse than that found in them. The largest differences were noted with respect to the level of academic vocabulary, whose use is much sparser in literary studies than in all other fields. The pedagogical implications include advocating for refraining from reading literary academic articles earlier than postgraduate studies for non-native-speakers of English (with some exceptions), as their vocabulary level will generally be insufficient for those purposes. We also point to the limited value of teaching academic vocabulary to students of literary studies.
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