Uncovering published authors' text-borrowing practices: Paraphrasing strategies, sources, and self-plagiarism

Yu-Chih Sun*, Fang-Ying Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The study aims to examine the paraphrasing strategies, sources, and self-plagiarism of 71 journal articles in the fields of language and education. Turnitin plagiarism detection software and human scrutiny were employed to uncover the full range of detectable text-borrowing practices in these publications. The results indicate 30 different types of paraphrasing strategies, among which copying verbatim and substitution were the most frequent. Additionally, authors in the study often integrated multiple paraphrasing strategies within single sentences. Journal articles represent the majority of the sources from which text is borrowed. Regarding authorship, overall, more than two-thirds (67.28%) of the observed textual borrowing involves the reuse (or recycling) of texts from an author's previous publications. The prevalence of matches with one's own publications calls for more explicit operational standards among disciplines in this regard and points toward factors that may contribute to unintentional self-plagiarism, such as lexical bundles or authors' stylistic habits in writing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-236
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of English for Academic Purposes
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015


  • Paraphrasing
  • Patchwriting
  • Plagiarism
  • Plagiarism-detection software
  • Self-plagiarism
  • Text-borrowing
  • Turnitin

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