Copying, Paraphrasing, and Academic Writing Development: A Re-Examination of L1 and L2 Summarization Practices

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Recently, a number of scholars (e.g., Leask, 2006 and Liu, 2005) have raised concerns about the discourse of plagiarism, arguing that an emphasis on cultural difference has served to reinforce stereotypes of particular L2 groups and perpetuate deficit views of L2 learners. In an effort to address these concerns, the present study revisits Keck's own (2006) comparison of L1 and L2 summarization practices and investigates (1) why both L1 and L2 writers might choose to copy or Paraphrase source text language while composing a written summary and (2) whether the strategy use of novice writers differed from that of their more experienced peers. The study found that L1 and L2 writers identified many of the same excerpts to include in their summaries, excerpts which allowed them to introduce the problem in focus and to explain the author's thesis. The study also found that the higher rate of copying observed for the L2 group as a whole could be explained by a small number of students who copied source text language extensively. In both the L1 and L2 groups, novice writers tended to rely more on source text excerpts than their more experienced peers.