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Volume 5 Number 1, Spring 2008, Pages 1-157   

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Citation Problems of Chinese MA Theses and Pedagogical Implications

    Yinghui Sun

The use of citations constitutes a great difficulty for Chinese MA students. Based upon a detailed study of a corpus of 100 MA thesis introductions written by Chinese students in English, the present study aims to find the main problems of this group of students in handling citations. Findings show that (1) some students lack awareness of the importance of citation for the purpose of creating their research space in the introduction part of their most important academic writing, the MA theses; (2) Chinese MA students tend to use one citation pattern and a reluctance to use the other patterns. Regarding the use of reporting verbs and verb tenses, Chinese students also show a preference for a limited number of verbs, and a predominating use of the Present Simple tense, indicating that these students do not have sufficient skills in employing citations appropriately; (3) Chinese students tend to overuse citations as authoritative support for their own work, with little critical evaluation of previous research. To ensure the effective use of citations, genre-based teaching of citations is suggested, through both explicit teaching and the practice of analyzing mature writing as well as the writing itself.

Keywords: citations, introductions, reporting verbs, tenses, genre-based teaching