Fleshing out your text: How elaboration and contextualization moves differentially predict writing quality


  • Henk Pander Maat
  • Kees De Glopper
  • Kay Raaijmakers
  • Joris Veerbeek
  • Dennis Vermeulen




writing quality, annotation, text length, elaboration, contextualization


 This study explores the relation between writing quality and contextualization and elaboration moves, two kinds of textual expansion devices crucial for building common ground between writers and readers. We ask whether elaboration and contextualization features differentially predict writing quality and whether their quality contributions differ between genres. We also ask to what extent elaboration and contextualization are tied to individual writers, and can be explained by writer characteristics. To examine these issues, we annotated descriptive and argumentative texts of Dutch adolescents. Text quality was rated holistically, using benchmark scales.

    As regards elaboration, depth affects quality more than breadth does. It also contributes across genres, whereas breadth only contributes in argumentations. Depth shows a large individual consistency across tasks, which is substantially related to students’ school type, grade and gender. Breadth shows weaker links to individual writers and their characteristics.

    With regard to contextualization, opening and closing moves play a modest role in text quality. Initial support moves contribute to quality across tasks; concluding moves contribute more in argumentations. Concluding moves are most consistent within writers; however, for all contextualization moves, the writer variance is substantially explained by writer characteristics. This study opens up new avenues for explicating writing quality and writing skill.


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How to Cite

Pander Maat, H., De Glopper, K., Raaijmakers, K., Veerbeek, J., & Vermeulen, D. (2023). Fleshing out your text: How elaboration and contextualization moves differentially predict writing quality. Journal of Writing Research, 15(2), 363–393. https://doi.org/10.17239/jowr-2023.15.02.05