HomeFEU English and Literature Journalvol. 2 no. 1 (2008)

Hedging and Boosting in College Research Articles

Maurie Liza M. Nivales

Discipline: Psychology, Social Science, Genetic Engineering



Commitment and detachment in one’s claims are linguistically manifested in the use of hedging and boosting devices. How novice writers show their confidence in or detachment to their proposed ideas is the focus of analysis in this study that used Kaplan’s contrastive rhetoric theory to examine 144 pages of introduction and conclusion sections in the randomly selected research articles written by students from five different courses in the field of Arts and Sciences. Using Mojica’s (2005) and Hyland’s (2004) categorization, it was found out that hedges and boosters were almost equally used in the introduction and conclusion sections of the research articles (RAs) sampled. Writers across all disciplines investigated exhibit preference for type 3 hedging device. Differences in showing commitment and detachment were apparent between the two disciplines: Psychology majors appear to be more detached while those in Mass Communication seem more committed. The topics of the RAs apparently influenced the commitment and detachment of these writers. These findings suggest the need for awareness raising on the usefulness of hedging and boosting devices in mitigating claims despite the seeming sensitivity of the RA topics or its affect on the writers. In the end, these research articles are academic papers that must adhere strictly to writing conventions of impersonality and formality.