In research writing, one of the challenging questions is about the extent to which methods need to be succinctly summarised in introductory sections. To answer this intriguing question, Swales’ (2004) genre-based analytical framework was used to examine the frequencies of method summaries (MSs) in the research article introductions (RAIs) in two major social science disciplines, namely Ethnic Studies (ES) and Industrial Relations (IR), which have been overlooked in previous studies. Apart from examining expert writers’ recurrent lexico-grammatical resources, semi-structured interviews were conducted with six specialist informants in both disciplines. We have found that the MSs are characterised by the recurrent use of prepositional phrases expressing data sources, cardinal numerals accentuating subjects’ involvement, post-modifying structures describing samples, and verb-infinitive/preposition structures signalling facilitation. IR researchers exhibit a greater propensity to foreground MSs than ES researchers, and the difference is ascribable to the underlying philosophical assumptions behind the adoption of methodological approaches. In our concluding remarks, we (i) demonstrate how findings based on an analysis of salient language resources can help instructors make informed decisions while guiding learners to craft a cogent method summary, and (ii) argue that the information derived from our textual analysis and specialist informants’ inputs can further contribute to our understanding of expert writers’ rhetorical practices across different social science disciplines.
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