I used the 2nd edition of this book to teach Academic Writing in a Continuing ed. ESL program to mostly Phd. candidates at the University of Massachusetts, as well as to Phd. students and professors at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. I found this to be an outstanding book for graduate students needing to learn the organizational patterns of IMRD research papers as well as rhetorical strategies commonly employed in such papers. Since these conventions are not typically taught in the ESL courses in the countries my students came from, they typically found the text quite informative. Having revised the English of over 1,000 research papers written by non-native speakers of English, I find this book to be highly relevant for anyone learning the basics of writing research papers. For example, the three moves of the introduction: 1. Begin by defining the larger general territory or context from which the topic of your study develops. 2. Point out a gap or lack of knowledge that exists in the literature about the topic of your study. 3. Indicate how your study fills this gap. Feaks and Swales elaborate on these 3 moves, and illustrate how to structure the introduction according to these three moves. The authors provide a lucid and simple set of points for students, which are quite reassuring to junior authors writing their first paper.
While there are countless guidebooks on writing research papers, the authors address the unique needs of English Language Learners. It is a fine book to use alone, in small groups, or with large classes. One interesting feature of this book is that it does not simply prescribe rules. It is a far more nuanced approach to the topic. The authors cite various studies of applied linguistics that report not on what they think authors should be doing in their writing but instead on what actual authors do in various fields. This book relies heavily on the research of the field of Applied Linguistics, specifically genre analysis. One of the main ideas is develop students awareness of how researchers in their particular field write papers, considering their particular word choice, phrases, and strategies. The idea is to empower students and help them present themselves as knowledgeable and competent members of their particular research discourse community. This is a book that challenges students to think about how they wish to present their research; it does not provide a simplistic lists of dos and don'ts; it encourages thoughtful self-reflection. This feature sets it apart from common writing guidebooks.
The the detailed review of issues related to writing the title, abstract, introduction, material and methods, results, and discussion, the lesson on hedging, citation patterns, the formulaic language used in various parts of a paper, the mixing of complex grammar with certain rhetorical strategies of research papers, all make this book a brilliant one-of-a-kind approach to the genre. The third edition, which covers more examples from natural and physical sciences, seems to have only greatly improved this superb book. Personally, after teaching ELL for 8 years in public schools, I was inspired by this book to delve deeper into English for Academic Purposes in higher education and research. I would highly recommend this book for any ELL graduate student aiming to improve their ability to write research papers.