Christopher Ankomah, Joseph B. Afful

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One key means of negotiating entry into a particular discourse in a research community is via the problem statement section in both research articles and dissertations/theses. Students are mostly confronted with the challenge of establishing a research space. This paper investigates the rhetorical strategies employed by Language students in the Department of English, University of Cape Coast, to establish a niche in their introduction sections. A total of fifty-two introductions were collected from both undergraduate dissertations and postgraduate theses. The data was subjected to a qualitative content analysis. The results of the analysis indicated that both undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG) students employed Indicating a Gap as their best choice to establish a niche, with the PGs using it more than the UGs. Both groups of students used Establishing Problem and Need as their next preferred option to create a research space. However, it was only the PGs who used Counter-claiming as the third strategy. These findings of this study have implications for the scholarship on students’ academic writing and pedagogy.


Dissertation/thesis, introduction, niche, rhetorical strategies

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