About the features of Estonian academic writing

Keywords: academic writing, coherence, stance, authorial presence, rhetorical structure, argument

This paper aims to present a comprehensive overview about studies describing Estonian academic writing. Academic writing inherently belong to the everyday life of an academic community. While aspects of the Anglo-American writing tradition have been extensively described, not much is known about writing traditions of smaller languages, such as Estonian. This paper takes the first step towards understanding the essence of an Estonian academic writing tradition. This paper first presents a summary of our novel model that combines five features of academic writing: coherence, stance, authorial presence, rhetorical structure, and argument (Leijen et al., accepted for publication). Each feature is briefly explained. Next, the paper presents an extended literature overview of Estonian academic writing. Not all the literature specifically investigates the aspects that fall under the features in the model. However, this more general body of knowledge forms the background and creates research context to the literature overview. More specifically, summaries are provided about studies reporting on 1) linguistic features and readability of text types, 2) terminological accuracy and vitality of academic Estonian, and 3) pedagogical studies aimed at teaching and improving the quality of Estonian academic writing. The last part of the paper takes a more specific look at the studies that actually provide relevant knowledge to capture a writing tradition based on the model. The literature overview concludes with a summary stating that until now, empirical descriptions of Estonian academic writing are rather scattered and there seems to be no clear understanding or consensus about what is an Estonian academic writing tradition. We claim that it is now important to move on towards a comprehensive empirical study that includes specific detailed knowledge about academic writing and uses it for a general description to make conclusions about the overall structure and nature of Estonian academic writing.


Helen Hint (b. 1987), PhD, University of Tartu, Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics, Research Fellow in Academic Writing and Rhetoric (Jakobi 2-430, 51005 Tartu); Tallinn University, Lecturer in Linguistics,

Djuddah A. J. Leijen (b. 1974), PhD, University of Tartu, Head of Centre for Academic Writing and Communication; Department of English Studies, Lecturer in English Language (J. Liivi 4-310, 50409 Tartu),

Anni Jürine (1985–2021), PhD, University of Tartu, Research Fellow in Academic Writing and Rhetoric