Discourse synthesis; paraphrasing; citation; graduate writing; professors’ assessment


This study explores how paraphrasing transforms and integrates meaning from reading into writing. Findings are based on interviews with 27 professors who commented on 8 paraphrases written by graduate students. Both student writers and professors were selected from across cultural (Chinese and North American) and disciplinary (soft and hard) contexts. Results indicate that the participating professors tended to accept paraphrases that involved a selection or interpretation of the original source that accurately represented the source text, rather than those that contained a misunderstanding or additional ideas. The professors also suggested that students could add an explanation for the content transformation so the paraphrase would be transparent for readers. The study highlights how important it is for student paraphrasers to provide guidance for readers so they can follow student content transformations. It also suggests that paraphrasing should be taught explicitly at the graduate level by responding to students’ writing while it is in process.

Acknowledgement: This study is part of a larger project funded by an Insight Grant of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Grant number: 435-2013-0527). I thank the students and professors for their participation, and Yanning Dong and Ismaeil Fazel for their help with data analysis.



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