Writing from Sentences

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Description Of The Research

Data Set:

Papers and cited sources collected from first-year students at one university in the United States. Collected, 2008

Date of Study:

2008

Principal Investigators:

Rebecca Moore Howard, Tanya K. Rodrigue, and Tricia C. Serviss

Description:

This single-site, naturalistic study conducted intertextual analysis of the ways in which 18 students incorporated sources into their research projects.

Findings:

None of the eighteen student research texts studied included summary of a source, raising questions about the students’ critical reading practices. Instead of summary, which is highly valued in academic writing and is promoted in composition textbooks, the students paraphrased, copied from, or patchwrote from individual sentences in their sources. Writing from individual sentences places writers in constant jeopardy of working too closely with the language of the source and thus inadvertently plagiarizing; and it also does not compel the writer to understand the source

Conclusions:

Instead of focusing on students’ citation of sources, educators should attend to the more fundamental question of how well students understand their sources and whether they are able to write about them without appropriating language from the source.


Related Publications:

Report and Analysis of Findings:

Howard, Rebecca Moore, Tanya K. Rodrigue, and Tricia C. Serviss. “Writing from Sources, Writing from Sentences.Writing and Pedagogy 2.2 (Fall 2010): 177-192.

  • Abstract: This study of the researched papers produced by eighteen students at a US university found instances of patchwriting in all of the papers, but no instances of summary. Although the ability to summarize extended passages of text is expected of academic writers and is promoted in composition textbooks, the students in the study paraphrased, copied from, or patchwrote from individual sentences in their sources. Writing from individual sentences places writers in constant jeopardy of working too closely with the language of the source and thus inadvertently plagiarizing; and it also does not compel the writer to understand the source.
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