Does text readability matter? A study of paraphrasing and plagiarism in English as a foreign language writing context

Yu-Chih Sun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Academic plagiarism and inappropriate source borrowing have drawn much attention in higher education in recent years. Research has shown that reasons behind students' textual transgression include lack of knowledge about plagiarism and paraphrasing, task/text difficulty, and topical familiarity. Little has been done to probe into the relationship between source text readability and paraphrasing. The study aims to explore if text readability has an influence on the extent of student writers' paraphrasing, plagiarism, and their strategy use. The participants of the study were 97 college students taking academic writing courses in Taiwan. This study employed one specially developed instrument that includes a plagiarism knowledge survey, a perception survey, and two paraphrasing tasks with low-and high-readability texts. The results showed that students tended to do more substantial paraphrasing from the high-readability text than from the low-readability text. Also, incidences of potential plagiarism such as exact copying and near copying appeared to be higher for the low- readability text than the high-readability text.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-306
Number of pages11
JournalAsia-Pacific Education Researcher
Volume21
Issue number2
StatePublished - 25 Jul 2012

Keywords

  • L2 writing
  • Paraphrasing
  • Plagiarism
  • Read-to-write
  • Readability

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