An examination of linguistic and sociocultural variables in writing a dissertation among Turkish doctoral students
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Throughout the world, an increasing number of graduate students pursue advanced degrees in English medium universities or departments where English is a foreign language. Yet so far, researchers have focused on international graduate students studying mostly in Anglophone countries and their struggle to adapt the conventions of academic community. The results of such studies are often overgeneralized so that one comes to believe that graduate students in foreign language contexts undergo the same processes as their counterparts in English-speaking countries. Scholars in foreign language education and applied linguistics need to differentiate the context and examine the specificity of each regarding the challenges faced and strategies used during dissertation writing in English language. The second major objective of the study is to discover the linguistic and socio-cultural variables that inform those challenges by examining the interrelations and academic socialization processes reported by those graduate students themselves. To meet this significant need, this study combines both quantitative and qualitative means of data collection through administering a comprehensive survey and conducting face-to-face interviews with engineering graduate students in Turkey and their academic advisors. This study contributes to the current body of knowledge by increasing our understanding of the process of dissertation writing in English as a foreign language in a foreign language context, the challenges those graduate students face and the variables which play a part in the process. The results of the study have significant implications for English language pedagogy and language policy initiatives in higher education that inform the curricula that focus on academic writing for advanced learners. The findings from the study also yield useful information for agents within the academic community who are a part of the dissertation writing process, academic writing teachers and English for Academic Purposes scholars so that the curricula of graduate programs can be modified according to the needs of engineering graduate students.