Hedges and Boosters in Academic Writing - A Study of Gender Differences in Essays Written by Swedish Advanced Learners of English.
The primary aim of this study was to investigate the overall frequency in which Swedish advanced learners of English use epistemic modality to express doubt (hedges) and certainty (boosters) in their academic writing; and if there seem to be gender-related differences. The secondary aim was to study how these modifiers were structurally distributed in the essays according to the IMRAD model. A comparative analysis of 20 randomly selected C-essays written by Swedish students of English at several universities was therefore conducted. Slight indications were found suggesting that females were more inclined than males to offer stronger commitments to the propositional information they supplied, but both males and females displayed a substantially higher use of hedges than boosters. Also, both hedges and boosters appeared more frequently in the Introduction and Discussion than the remaining sections of the academic essays.