The Role of ‘Coupling’ in Biological Experimental Reports


  • Jing Hao University of Sydney
  • Sally Humphrey Australian Catholic University



Coupling, Appraisal, Ideation, Experimental Report, Undergraduate Biology


This paper reports on research profiling genres in the core courses of the Undergraduate biology program, conducted as part of the Scaffolding Literacy in Academic and Tertiary Environments (SLATE) project (Mahboob, Dreyfus, Humphrey & Martin, 2010). The research draws on the discourse semantic theories of Ideation (Martin & Rose 2007) and Appraisal (Martin & White 2005) to analyse evaluation in introductions to published biological research articles in order to make visible to students the rhetorical resources which allow researchers to describe and explain a biological phenomenon as well as to convince their audiences that this phenomenon is worthy of further investigation. Investigating the instantiation of these meanings in text has necessitated a consideration of combinations of interpersonal and ideational meanings – which has been termed ‘coupling’ (Martin 2010). Investigating couplings allows us to account for how the Research Warrant (Hood 2010) of research articles justifies a particular investigation and more broadly, how biologists align their readers into a research community. Findings of the particular couplings that have been identified in biological research warrants will be reported as well as extensions to the field sensitive categories of Appreciation which have been developed from this research. Based on the revealed patterning of couplings in biological Research Warrant, the patterning of couplings in undergraduate biology have been predicted.

Author Biographies

Jing Hao, University of Sydney

PhD candidate, Linguistic Department, University of Sydney, Australia.

Sally Humphrey, Australian Catholic University

Senior Lecturer, Literacy Education, School of Education


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How to Cite

Hao, J., & Humphrey, S. (2012). The Role of ‘Coupling’ in Biological Experimental Reports. Linguistics and the Human Sciences, 5(2), 169–194.