The appliance of science: The challenges of undergraduate science students writing popular science
The Asian Journal of Applied Linguistics. Volume 5, Issue 1. March 2018


popular science
undergraduate writing
academic writing
undergraduate science
Hong Kong

How to Cite

Boynton, S. (2018). The appliance of science: The challenges of undergraduate science students writing popular science. The Asian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 5(1), 4–18. Retrieved from


Popular science writing is rarely referred to in the literature yet could be used as a writing task for undergraduate science students. Since 2013-14, a popular science article writing task has been used as the main writing task in an English-in-the-Discipline course for second year undergraduate science students from multiple scientific disciplines at a university in Hong Kong. In this course students were formally taught the genre features of popular science articles and research articles using the concept of reader-writer proximity (Hyland, 2010) in which the fixed rhetorical features are used to “construct both the reader and writer as people with similar understandings and goals” (Hyland, 2010, p. 116). Samples of students’ writing were analysed for genre features through Hyland’s concept of proximity, and individual interviews conducted with their authors. The objectives of the study were to determine (1) to what extent students can incorporate and successfully use features of popular science in their writing, (2) what factors affect students’ ability to incorporate and successfully use these features, and (3) the pedagogical implications for helping students to write successful popular science articles in future courses.

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