Performance in the Citing Behavior of Two Student Writers
This article reports the results of an interview-based study which investigated the citation behavior in the assignment writing of two second-language postgraduate business management students, Sofie and Tara. Discourse-based interviews were used to elicit the students’ own perspectives on their citation behavior in two of their assignments. Citations were one of the ways in which Sofie and Tara enacted performance (Goffman, 1959), aiming to create a favorable impression on the assignment markers. Both students made sure they cited key sources on their reading lists, whether they found the texts helpful or not, because they understood that lecturers required evidence that these sources had been consulted. Both writers also cited a large number of sources, whether they had read these sources carefully or not, to perform the industrious student who reads widely. By ensuring the same sources which had been discussed in class were cited in her writing, Tara was able to perform the attentive student who listened carefully to lectures and seminars. Sofie sometimes tailored what she cited to fit her markers’ perceived interests and ideological standpoints, in an attempt to align her own stance with what she felt would be the stance of her markers and thus gain their favor. Implications of using Goffman’s notion of performance to explore student writers’ citing behavior are discussed. The pedagogical implications of the study for subject-specific lecturers and for EAP teachers are also addressed.