Move Analysis of letters of Recommendation Written by Lecturers in a Ghanaian University
Keywords:Genre, letters of recommendation, move structure, communication purpose(s), occluded
The scholarship on the rhetoric of letters of recommendation (LRs) has tended to cover those from the Anglo-American and European context. The present study aimed to investigate the structural organization of the LRs through an examination of the moves. The data consisted of purposively sampled 24 LRs written for candidates seeking admission into postgraduate programmes. The quality content analysis of the data complemented by some descriptive statistics showed that the LRs were characterized by a five-move structure: purpose of writing (move 1), context of knowing the candidate (Move 2), candidate’s credentials (Move 3), candidate’s personal values (Move 4), and closure (Move 5). In addition, with regard to the sequence of moves, the study found: (1) that the 5-move sequence was the most frequently used; (2) that the LRs mostly began with Move 1; (3) that the 1-›3-›3 sequence occurred most frequently; and (4) that Move 5 always occurred at the end of the UEW LRs. As regards the textual space of moves, it was found that Move 3, Candidate’s credentials, occupied the greatest space (i.e. 53.01%) in the LRs. Finally, the study implies that, while critical individual preferences exist in style, conventions of writing LRs are typically embedded in epistemological structures that are unique to the discipline. The present study has implications for the existing scholarship on LRs, EAP pedagogy and further research.