A Developmental View of Authorial Voice Construction in Master’s Thesis: A Case Study of Two Novice L2 Writers

Jun Zhao, Yingliang Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Effective authorial voice in academic writing helps researchers establish the value of their scholarly contributions. However, constructing an authorial voice is challenging for many novice L2 writers. Through tracking multiple drafts of master’s theses written by two Chinese EFL (English as a foreign language) graduate students, this case study investigated changes in their authorial voices and the roles of advisor feedback in this process. We drew on three types of data: analysis of multiple thesis drafts for linguistic and content features of voice; advisor feedback on multiple drafts; and a questionnaire for the student writers’ understanding of authorial voice. The results indicate that the linguistic features of voice in their theses have remained largely unchanged, portraying them as unconfident student writers, but the content features have shown significant improvement, conveying authorial voices of novice researchers in the later drafts. Most of the student revisions followed their advisors’ feedback. The student participants’ questionnaire responses indicate their relative lack of awareness of the importance of language in voice construction. The results suggest that the authorial voice construction of the novice student writers is dynamic, developmental, and interactive with their advisors’ feedback over the thesis writing process. Pedagogically, other than feedback on content features of voice, classroom practitioners could also consider providing explicit instruction of and feedback on linguistic features to help students construct authoritative authorial voice in the academic context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSAGE Open
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


  • academic writing
  • advisor feedback
  • authorial voice construction
  • master’s thesis
  • novice L2 writers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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