John Swales

John Malcolm Swales (born 1938) is a linguist best known for his work on genre analysis, particularly with regard to its application to the fields of rhetoric, discourse analysis, English for Academic Purposes and, more recently, information science.

He was born in 1938 in Surrey, UK and attended various private schools before going up to Cambridge University in 1957, graduating with a degree in psychology. He first taught in southern Italy for two years, both in a high school and at the local university, and then went to Sweden for a year as an English language teacher. His next move was as an Assistant Lecturer at the University of Libya from 1963-65. After a year studying for an advanced diploma in linguistics and English language teaching at the University of Leeds, UK he returned to Libya as Head of the English Section at the College of Engineering in Tripoli. After three more years at the Leeds Institute of Education, he returned to the Middle East, this time to the prestigious University of Khartoum, Sudan, where he was Director of the English Language Servicing Unit from 1973-1978. He returned to the UK in 1978 as a senior lecturer (later reader) in the Language Studies Unit at the University of Aston, where he jointly developed the first master’s course in the teaching of ESP.

In 1985 he moved to the University of Michigan on a visiting position and in 1987 was appointed Professor of Linguistics and Director of the English Language Institute from 1985 to 2001. He retired in 2007, but remains Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and an active scholar. His writing on topics such as the concept of discourse community, the relating of descriptive linguistic research to pedagogical uptake, and the design of materials for advanced learners of English, has been influential in many countries around the world. In particular, his analysis of research article introductions (known as The CARS Model) has been widely adopted and extended. In more recent years, John Swales has been closely involved with two corpus projects at the English Language Institute at the University of Michigan: MICASE (The Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English) and MICUSP (The Michigan Corpus of Upper Level Student Papers).

Overall, he has written or co-written fifteen books and about 120 research articles or book chapters. He continues to be frequently invited to be a keynote speaker at conferences around the world. A partial list of his book-length publications follows.

Selected Published Books

  • Episodes in ESP (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1985)
  • Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings (Cambridge, 1990)
  • Other Floors, Other Voices: A Textography of a Small University Building (Erlbaum, 1998)
  • English in Today’s Research World: A Writing Guide (with C. B. Feak) (University of Michigan Press, 2000)
  • Academic Writing for Graduate Students, 2nd Ed. (with C. B. Feak) (Michigan 2004)
  • Research Genres: Explorations and Applications (Cambridge, 2004)
  • Telling a Research Story: Writing a Literature Review (with C. B. Feak) (Michigan, 2009)
  • Abstracts and the Writing of Abstracts (with C. B. Feak) (Michigan, 2009)
  • Incidents in an Educational Life: A Memoir (of sorts) (Michigan, 2009)

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