“Students' writing from sources for academic purposes: A synthesis of research.”


Educators have long recognized that a major challenge for students learning to write for academic purposes is developing the ability to integrate source material effectively and appropriately into written compositions. To identify and evaluate the current state of empirical evidence, we conducted a systematic synthesis of the published research that has investigated writing from sources systematically from a variety of analytic perspectives, in first and second languages, and in diverse contexts internationally including students in universities, colleges, and secondary schools. Five general claims emerged across our analyses of 69 empirical studies published in refereed journals or books in English from 1993 to 2013. Each claim has firm empirical support but each also warrants further research and refinement: (1) students experience difficulties with, but develop certain strategies to deal with, the complex processes of writing from sources; (2) prior knowledge and experience influence students' performance in writing from sources; (3) differences may appear between L1 and L2 students in their understanding and uses of sources in writing; (4) performance in tasks that involve writing from sources varies by task conditions and types of texts written and read; and (5) instruction can help students improve their uses of sources in their writing.