Multi-Word Combinations in Science Communication: A Corpus-Driven Study of University Press Releases

Emilia Petrocelli 1 * , Laura Di Ferrante 2, Elisa Ghia 3
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1 Department of Human Studies, University for Foreigners of Siena, Siena, ITALY
2 Department of Communication and Social Research, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, ITALY
3 Department of Political and Social Science, University of Pavia, Pavia, ITALY
* Corresponding Author
Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Volume 12, Issue 4, Article No: e202224.
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Entrepreneurial universities sponsor their research through the media to increase their popularity. This in turn may engender a biased representation of scientific knowledge in the media. We present the results of a quali-quantitative analysis of phraseology characterizing press releases (PRs) issued by universities and focusing on published research. Our investigation aims to identify typical n-grams in university PRs and their main purposes. The study is based on a developmental 68,913-word collection of university PRs. 5-word n-grams were assigned categories and functions. Results contribute to the characterization of PRs as a hybrid genre at the crossroads between news and ads. Moreover, findings add knowledge about this specific type of PRs, which cover some of the same functions as scientific discourse while at the same time enhancing promotional features. This is shown by the recurrent use of phrasal units fulfilling both informative and promotional needs to the detriment of others only fulfilling informative functions.


Petrocelli, E., Di Ferrante, L., & Ghia, E. (2022). Multi-Word Combinations in Science Communication: A Corpus-Driven Study of University Press Releases. Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, 12(4), e202224.


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