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International Students, Academic Writing and Plagiarism Conference

Abstract: Rebecca Moore Howard "Behind Citation"

This presentation will report research that investigates the relative opacity or transparency of citations in the researched writing of 18 US undergraduate students. The research replicates some of the methods used by Pecorari as she studied UK international graduate students. The US study, which was not controlled for nationality or home language, reveals far less extensive word-for-word copying than Pecorari found. Rather than copying extended passages, the US students engaged in sentence-internal patchwriting. Their citations, however, were predominantly opaque, not indicating that the students were paraphrasing, copying, or patchwriting from the source and not revealing the extent of the information taken from the source. The students were, in other words, misusing source texts just as extensively as were Pecorari's--but in different ways.  Plagiarism-detecting software would fail to reveal these students' problems with reading source texts critically and writing about them dialogically. The presentation will conclude by reflecting on the ways in which popular definitions and detection of plagiarism disadvantage international students, when native-English-speaking students are misusing sources just as extensively.

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