Citations, professors, reading, research, comprehension


Citations provide truncated yet socially complex information about sources in academic texts which students are obliged to read, comprehend, and then ultimately produce as part of an academic discourse community. While researchers have observed a developmental process whereby students produce citations during source-based writing, little work has investigated the reading stage when students visually encounter citations. In this study, we explored academic reading behaviors by examining eye movements of 27 graduate students and 18 professors as they read 6 authentic research texts for various purposes (summary, analysis, synthesis). Results of factorial ANOVAs showed no differences between students and professors but did reveal that both groups spent far less time looking at citations than surrounding text and that reading purposes affected citation reading behavior. These results indicate that students and professors read academic citations in similar ways. Further, the findings suggest that synthesizing sources, not just summarizing or analyzing them, results in greater attention to citations; thus, students developing their academic writing and citation skills may benefit from synthesizing multiple sources.

Original Publication Citation

*Eckstein, G., Miner, S., Watkins, K., James, J.,Sims, M., Baker, A., & Grahl, L. (2020). Reading Academic Citations: How Professors and Graduate Students Read for Different Purposes. Reading Matrix, 20(1), 1-19.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



The Reading Matrix: An International Online Journal







University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor

Included in

Linguistics Commons