Original Research

Integration of sources in academic writing: A corpus-based study of citation practices in essay writing in two departments at the University of Botswana

Boitumelo T. Ramoroka
Reading & Writing | Vol 5, No 1 | a41 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v5i1.41 | © 2014 Boitumelo T. Ramoroka | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 July 2013 | Published: 07 April 2014

About the author(s)

Boitumelo T. Ramoroka, Communication and Study Skills Department, University of Botswana, Botswana


The ability to cite sources appropriately is an important feature of academic writing. Academic writers are expected to integrate ideas of others into their texts and take a stance towards the reported material as they develop their arguments. Despite this importance, research has shown that citation presents considerable difficulties for students, particularly non-native English speakers. Such difficulties include using citations effectively in writing and understanding them in reading, expressing one’s voice and signalling citations in writing so that there is a clear distinction between one’s ideas and those derived from source materials. This study investigates the types of reporting verbs used by students to refer to the work of others and the extent to which they evaluate the work of others in their writing. It draws from a corpus of approximately 80 000 words from essays written by students in two departments at the University of Botswana (Botswana). The findings show that students used more informing verbs, associated with the neutral passing of information from the source to the reader, without interpreting the information cited, compared with argumentative verbs (which signify an evaluative role). The results of the study underscore the importance of teaching reporting verbs in the English for academic purposes classroom and making students aware of their evaluative potential.


Citation; Reporting verbs; Corpus Analysis; Voice in Academic Writing


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