Textual Appropriation and Citing Behaviors of University Undergraduates
This article explores the citing behaviors of 16 undergraduates in a North American university. After completing a research paper for their disciplinary courses, each participating student was interviewed to identify in his/her writing words and ideas borrowed from source texts and to explain why and how the relevant texts were appropriated with or without citations. Analysis of students’ writing and comments illustrates how they relied on source texts for various aspects of their essays, some of which they believed required citations while some of which did not. Results showed that they tried to strike a balance between the need to cite published authors to gain credit for the scholarly quality of their writing and the desire to establish their own voice by limiting the extent to which they cited other texts. Some students also reported how they chose between quoting and paraphrasing (though the latter sometimes contained direct copying) on the basis of their ability to rephrase other's words and their understanding of the different roles played by the two. The study indicates the degree to which citational acts are discursive markings of learning and knowledge construction.