Hedging in Scientific Articles as a Means of Classifying Citations

Chrysanne Di Marco and Robert E. Mercer

Citations in scientific writing fulfil an important role in creating relationships among mutually relevant articles within a research field. These inter-article relationships reinforce the argumentation structure intrinsic to all scientific writing. Therefore, determining the nature of the exact relationship between a citing and cited paper requires an understanding of the rhetorical relations within the argumentative context in which a citation is placed. To automatically determine these relations, we have suggested that various stylistic and rhetorical cues will be significant. One such cue that we are studying is the use of hedging to modify the affect of a scientific claim. We have previously shown that hedging occurs more frequently in citation contexts than in the text as a whole. With this information we conjecture that hedging is a significant aspect of the rhetorical structure of citation contexts and that the pragmatics of hedges may help in determining the rhetorical purpose of citations.

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