Citation in Students’ Essays: Technique or Card-Stacking?

Deo B. Ndoloi


Literature on Communication Skills or Study Skills at University or College places a lot of emphasis on writing skills, the essay being the most frequently assigned writing task. The pure sciences could boast of being exempted from this kind of task, but it is believed that even the short explanation to describe an experiment has to have clarity, organisation and a personal meaning built into it however objective it might be (see section on lessons learnt below). But the kind of essay which this paper pays more attention to is the ‘typical essay’ from the Arts or Humanities, where students would be given a writing task in which they would assume the role of ‘a participant’ and engage in an academic discussion. In carrying out relevant discussion, the students would be expected to add information of their own – that which is not found in sources – and at the same time integrate that which is found in sources in such a way that fair treatment is given to both the students’ own opinion and the opinions of those they cite. This is what Bazerman (1985) calls ‘composing’, in contrast to just ‘writing’.

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