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The development of competence in source use by international postgraduate students

Davis, Mary (2014) The development of competence in source use by international postgraduate students. PhD thesis, UCL Institute of Education.

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Abstract

This study investigates the development of source use by international postgraduate students at a UK HEI over a two year period. While other studies have examined source use at one time, in one area or with a small number of students, this study aims to establish what constitutes competence in key features of source use at Master’s level from the development shown by a larger number of students. The data comes from eight postgraduate students from China, Japan, Sri Lanka and Algeria in the form of four assignments submitted during a Pre-Master’s programme and subsequent Master’s degree. Interviews were carried out at each stage as an adjunct to the assignment data to investigate participants’ perspectives and knowledge of source use. The assignments were analysed for competence in five key features of source use: citation, paraphrasing, reporting verbs, critical engagement and avoidance of plagiarism. From the findings, different strategies, development and ability in source use emerged, leading to the establishment of three types of users: risk takers, safe players and competent users. The risk takers adopted strategies such as copying attributed and unattributed source text. The safe players used a small range of features but were extremely careful to avoid plagiarism. The competent users employed a range of features and did not take risks with plagiarism. From the final group, descriptors of competence in source use are defined which form the key contribution of this study to the field of EAP and to postgraduate education. The thesis highlights the following implications for practice: more continuous teaching of source use is necessary throughout postgraduate courses; EAP may not provide sufficient instruction in source use; tutors need to take students’ language level and prior education into account; and engaging students in discussing and defining plagiarism is essential for their development of source use.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: Departments > Culture, Communication and Media
Depositing User: Mr Julian Zerfahs
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2015 16:58
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2015 16:58
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