Across the academic world, abstracts may often serve a primary promotional function. However, it has also long been accepted that each academic field has its own perception of exactly what it means to be interesting and authoritative. Although abstracts in many disciplines have been extensively researched, so far those from the academic area of law have received little attention. This paper applies techniques of qualitative and quantitative analysis to 200 abstracts from four academic law journals (two European, two US based), and finds that their structure and language reflect specifically legal discourses of persuasion. Areas of commonality between the abstracts from European and US journals are discussed, while differences are analysed in terms of the underlying legal cultures.
Discourse analysis; Academic discourse; Persuasion; Academic law journals; Abstracts