How do university students attempt to avoid plagiarism? A grammatical analysis of L1 and L2 paraphrasing strategies
Over the past decade, university student plagiarism has received considerable attention, and a number of text-based studies (e.g., Pecorari, 2003; Shi, 2004) have investigated the extent to which both L1 and L2 writers copy source text language into their own written work. Much less is known, however, about student paraphrasing, and the ways in which students attempt to move beyond copying as a textual borrowing strategy. To address this gap, the present study analyzed a corpus of L1 (n=124) and L2 (n=103) summaries, and aimed to identify the major grammatical strategies that students employed when paraphrasing source text language. Focusing on the most frequently paraphrased source text excerpts in the corpus (255 paraphrases based on 6 different excerpts), the study coded each paraphrase to indicate instances in which words were added, deleted, or substituted with synonyms; and instances in which the form or function of an original excerpt’s phrase or clause was changed in the student paraphrase. Very few L1 and L2 paraphrases (43/255) contained copied strings of 5 or more words. And while the strategies of deletion and synonym substitution were frequently observed (179/255 paraphrases), many students (both L1 and L2 writers) made a number of grammatical changes to the original excerpts. Students who avoided the use of copied language used a common paraphrasing strategy: Rather than simply select individual words to replace with synonyms, they selected major clause elements within the original excerpt (e.g., the Subject of the excerpt, the Direct Object), and revised their grammatical form and/or function (e.g., condensing a that-clause into a noun phrase). These findings suggest that continued investigation of student paraphrasing may help to refine our understanding of the linguistic strategies associated with effective textual borrowing.
Casey Keck. "How do university students attempt to avoid plagiarism? A grammatical analysis of L1 and L2 paraphrasing strategies" American Association of Applied Linguistics. Atlanta, GA. Jan. 2010.
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