Limitations of specialised vocabulary research in EAP
Pre-university, undergraduate and postgraduate vocabulary
There is often overlap between academic and professional purposes which can make it difficult to decide what research fits where. To help make this kind of decision, it is important to consider the purpose of the research, since ESP is often driven by student needs. A good example is the work on Engineering which can be divided between Engineering for academic purposes, focused on the vocabulary of written texts in Engineering for learners at university, such as work by Ward (1999) and Hsu (2014) which focuses on the textbooks for the identification of specialised vocabulary. The needs of Engineering students once they leave university and enter the workforce would shift the focus to specialised vocabulary for professional purposes, and perhaps focus more on professional reading such as research articles. Another example is Medical English, where students start with a building block of studies including Biology and Chemistry, for example, and the following years of education move into more specific areas of study and specialisation. Post-university study, medical purposes also move into professional English. This is why some work on Medicine and Engineering is in this chapter, and some is in the following chapter on specialised vocabulary in the professions.
The Humanities have not been as thoroughly researched in university vocabulary studies. The hard-pure and hard-applied Sciences seem to have demanded a great deal of attention, possibly because of the current push for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and the dominance of these areas in international student and second language speakers of English enrolment into STEM. That said, while areas such as Design, Education and Criminology do not seem to have attracted much research activity, even many of the undergraduate areas of the Sciences, such as Biology, Chemistry and Psychology have also received little attention.