Xiaomei Huang

Xiaomei Huang

Department of English Language and Linguistics
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: Academic Writing Development at the University Level: The Treatment of Shell Nouns Across Discipline, Level of Study, and Genre. 
Supervisors: Dr Paul Thompson and Dr Garry Plappert
PhD English Language and Applied Linguistics


  • BA Linguistics/English, Anqing Normal University, China
  • MA TESOL, University of Pennsylvania, USA.


This diachronic study analyses the treatment of shell nouns in undergraduate level texts written by first language (L1) English writers to demonstrate knowledge and perform other specialized tasks required of advanced academic writers.  Using the British Academic Written English corpus (BAWE), the study focus on the writing development from first-year undergraduate to the final-year undergraduate students, and interactions with discipline and genre. Findings indicate signs of epistemological  differences and suggest that the development of academic writing  is an organic, dynamic process. Overall the study points to the value of taking an approach to treating student academic writing in its own right, the study further contributes to a small but growing body of research based on an empowering ideology and to the empirical literature on EAP writing instruction and assessment.