This exploratory study seeks to build a clearer picture of the extent to which engineering graduate students use and attribute unquoted verbatim source text in the literature review sections of their theses and dissertations. In addition, it explores whether or not there are differences between master’s and doctoral engineering students in these patterns of copying and attribution and what this might indicate about their potential skill levels in source use.
The study asks the following research questions: (1) Do the literature review sections of engineering master's theses contain longer average verbatim text matches than the corresponding sections of engineering doctoral dissertations? (2) Do the literature review sections of engineering master's theses contain more verbatim text matches than the corresponding sections of doctoral dissertations?, and (3) Do master’s engineering students attribute more or less of the verbatim source material they use than doctoral engineering students?
To investigate these questions, the researcher used the Google search engine to search for verbatim sources of text strings from the literature reviews of a random sample of 150 engineering theses and 150 doctoral dissertations, all in English and completed in 2009.
Master’s engineering students were found to copy significantly longer and more verbatim strings from their sources than the doctoral students. However, the master’s and doctoral students were, on average, equally likely (or unlikely) to attribute the verbatim source material they copied. These results raise important questions about how well graduate engineering students are trained in and practice ethical scholarly writing practices.
WMU ScholarWorks Citation
Eckel, Edward J., "Textual Appropriation and Attribution in Engineering Theses and Dissertations: An Exploratory Study" (2014). University Libraries Faculty & Staff Publications. 37.
Edward J. Eckel. "Textual appropriation and attribution in engineering theses and dissertations: An exploratory study." Conference 21st American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, June 16, 2014, Indianapolis, IN. Washington, D.C: American Society for Engineering Education, 2014. Print.