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This paper focuses on referential coherence, which is seen as a crucial attribute of effective academic writing. Findings are reported from a corpus study of Russian students' research proposals. The learners' use of anaphoric expressions is compared with a reference corpus, which comprises research articles published in peer-reviewed journals. It was hypothesised that learners use anaphora less frequently than professional writers and face some difficulties when using anaphoric expressions.doi:10.17323/jle.2019.9688 fatcat:hc46pyxzorcn3bqi2fidvor7ci