Understanding Students' Use of Sources through Collaborative Research

Type of Presentation

Workshop (1 hour and 15 minutes)

Target Audience

Higher Education


Room 111


See presentation description.

Presentation Description

Workshop participants will be introduced to methods of textual analysis developed in the Citation Project and will engage in hands-on practice of these methods. This form of analysis reveals how effectively students are understanding and using the sources they cite; it serves as a valuable means of faculty development; it can be used for course placement and program assessment; and most of all, it can be used to develop pedagogy that teaches students how to engage with their research sources rather than plagiarize from them. Participants in this workshop will practice methods of textual analysis that they can use for their own purposes in writing program administration, teaching, and scholarship, and will also have the possibility of participating in ongoing research in the Citation Project. The Citation Project is a multi-institution research project whose purpose is to compile an aggregate description of how college students use the research sources that they cite. Studying papers gathered from a variety of colleges, researchers read the papers and their sources as they pursue answers to a variety of questions, such as what types of sources students choose; how readily those sources can be retrieved by readers; the extent to which students’ papers reveal an engagement with the sources being cited; the frequency with which students use quotation, paraphrase, patchwriting, and summary; whether students’ choice of quotation, paraphrase, patchwriting, and summary correlates with the difficulty level or genre of the source they are citing; and whether any of these four strategies tend to be used in the early or later part of the student’s paper, suggesting that they are strategies to which students resort as they become fatigued or pressed for time. The data gathered from this research furthers our understanding of underlying issues in students’ source-based writing, so that more effective pedagogy can be developed. Currently, writing faculty and librarians introducing students to research and source-based writing focus most of their attention on instructing students in citation systems and source analysis, installing honor codes, and/or adopting plagiarism-detecting software. Randall McClure and Kellian Clink’s study of student source selection decisions indicates the need for “alternative approaches to information literacy instruction”. The Citation Project is designed to further our understanding of student source selection and use and explore the hypothesis that students’ instructional needs are far more complex than we have imagined, calling for fresh, nuanced instruction in critical reading, building arguments from syntheses of sources, and the rhetorical uses of citation.


Textual analysis, Citation Project, Faculty development, Plagiarism, Collaborative research, Citation, Source-based writing

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)


Oct 2nd, 1:00 PM Oct 2nd, 4:00 PM

Understanding Students' Use of Sources through Collaborative Research

Room 111

See presentation description.