Schematic Structure of Letters of Recommendation Written by Lecturers of Cape Coast University in Ghana

Emmanuel Kyei, Joseph Archibald Benjamin Afful


A Letter of Recommendation (LR) plays a significant role during the admission process in higher education. Almost all universities require LRs for admission of prospective students into graduate programmes. Using Genre Theory (Bhatia, 1993; Swales, 1990), the study examined the schematic structure of 35 purposively sampled LRs written by lecturers from the Department of English of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), a leading public university in Ghana. One key finding is that, in general, UCC lecturers used a 6-move structure, namely: “purpose of writing,” “context of knowing the candidate,” “writer’s credentials,” “candidate’s credentials,” “candidate’s personal values,” and “closure”. It was found further that Move 6 (closure) had the highest percentage of the frequency of occurrence (i.e. 100%). Move 4, Candidate’s credentials, occupied the greatest space. A further finding was that the sequence of moves did not depict any one standard sequence; instead, there were different sequential patterns in the data set. The study concludes that writing the LR involves deploying disciplinary and genre-specific conventions as well as personal stylistic preferences of the writers. These findings have implications for the existing scholarship on LRs, professional development, and further research.


letters of recommendation (LRs), disciplinary, discourse community, occluded genre, stylistic preference

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