Conference: Participation at 3rd Metadiscourse Across Genres (MAG2021). Universitat Jaume I de Castelló (Spain). 27-28 May 2021

Public dissemination of science through Twitter: an analysis of metadiscourse in the Twitter of scientific organisations. Luzón, María José


Social media such as Twitter enable scientists and science organisations to reach audiences beyond the scientific community and convey content in a way that is engaging for these audiences. Twitter has therefore become a powerful tool for scientific organisations to disseminate scientific knowledge and engage the public in societal action. However, there is little research on how various semiotic resources are combined in this space-constrained genre to achieve these purposes. This study contributes to filling this gap by applying Hyland’s (2005) interpersonal model of metadiscourse to analyse tweets by scientific organisations. However, Hyland’s model is expanded to include not only text but also other semiotic devices (e.g. pictures, emojis, animations) which enable the producers to guide the readers through the text, signal their attitude towards the content, engage the readers and persuade them. The data consists of a corpus of 150 Tweets from the Twitter of three scientific organisations which seek to disseminate knowledge about scientific issues such as climate change or wildlife and to engage the public in the conservation of nature and life diversity (The National Center for Science Education, World Wildlife Federation, and NASA Climate). The results show that visual and verbal metadiscourse are strategically combined in these tweets to link to content on other sites, influence readers’ understanding of and attitude towards content and prompt the readers to take specific actions. They also show that the purpose of these tweets and the affordances and conventions of the genre (e.g. hypermodality, limited number of characters) determine the choice of metadiscourse resources.


Hyland, K. (2005). Metadiscourse: Exploring interaction in writing. London: Continuum.

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