Plagiarism, Textual Borrowing, or Something else?: An L2 Student's Writing-from-sources Tasks
Suh, Soo Jung
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To date, L2 students' plagiarism has been attributed primarily to cultural differences or L2 proficiency. Bringing a novice, L2 writer's perspectives and struggles to the fore using a Bakhtinian framework, I adopt a broad approach that demonstrates that learning how to cite sources may be the result of a complex, contextualized interplay of cultural, linguistic, educational, disciplinary influences, and developing L2 writing competence. This exploratory case study reports on the textual borrowing practices of a novice, Korean student in a TESOL program at a U.S. university, including how and why she incorporated source texts into her writing by examining the products and processes of her retrospective and concurrent writing-from-sources tasks. Data analyses entailed triangulating data from (1) semi-structured interviews on her academic literacy experiences, (2) textual analysis of an authentic, course-related research paper in terms of the amount and nature of textual borrowing by source text type, (3) retrospective interviews on her research paper, (4) performance on Deckert's (1993) modified Plagiarism Identification Questionnaire, (5) textual analysis of an ensuing paraphrasing task, and (6) a post-questionnaire interview on previous instruction on plagiarism. Findings revealed that her lax criteria of textual ownership of words came from centripetal and centrifugal forces, that is, authoritative and internally persuasive discourses from her previous and current contexts, including addressivity to her professor's words to use her own words. Patchwriting occurred at the intersections of a coping, procedural display, and learning strategies to appropriate disciplinary content and academic discourse. Different patterns of textual borrowing manifested by source text type, suggesting that, despite transgressive textual borrowing, her source texts also served as sources of input and models of how to write a research paper. At times, the textual boundaries between borrowing of content and imitation became hazy when the surrounding contexts in which her patchwriting occurred was examined. I conclude by offering implications that address aspects of discursive, perspectivial, and pedagogical tensions that have been relatively overlooked at the expense of ethical tension.