A study of discourse anaphora in scientific abstracts

Elizabeth Liddy, Susan Bonzi, Jeffrey Katzer, Elizabeth Oddy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Natural language texts are used extensively in a range of information science tasks. Such use requires increased attention to discourse level linguistic phenomena which have the potential for impact on these tasks. One such device, anaphoric reference, was investigated in a frequently used text type, namely, scientific abstracts. Descriptive data on the extent of use of discourse anaphora in abstracts was gathered and rules for distinguishing anaphoric functioning of terms were compiled and tested. Results show a mean use of 3.67 functioning anaphors per abstract in a random sample of 600 abstracts from two databases. Testing of rules indicates high feasibility of future algorithmic recognition of anaphoric uses of terms. © 1987 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-261
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Society for Information Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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