• Evaluation of an intervention to help students avoid unintentional plagiarism by improving their authorial identity

      Elander, James; Pittam, Gail; Lusher, Joanne; Fox, Pauline; Payne, Nicola; University of Derby (2010)
      Students with poorly developed authorial identity may be at risk of unintentional plagiarism. An instructional intervention designed specifically to improve authorial identity was delivered to 364 psychology students at three post-1992 universities in London, UK, and evaluated with before-and-after measures of beliefs and attitudes about academic authorship, using the Student Authorship Questionnaire. Changes in questionnaire scores showed that the intervention led to significantly increased confidence in writing, understanding of authorship, knowledge to avoid plagiarism, and top-down approaches to writing, and significantly decreased bottom-up and pragmatic approaches to writing. For understanding of authorship, knowledge to avoid plagiarism and pragmatic approaches to writing, significant intervention by year of study interaction effects showed that the greatest improvements were among year one undergraduates. Direct evaluative feedback showed that 86% of students believed the intervention helped them avoid plagiarism and 66% believed it helped them write better assignments. Post-intervention focus groups revealed changed student understandings about authorial identity and academic writing. The results show that interventions can help students avoid unintentional plagiarism by adopting more authorial roles in their academic writing. Further research could explore other influences on authorial identity, and examine the impact of authorial identity interventions on other outcome indicators.
    • Student beliefs and attitudes about authorial identity in academic writing

      Pittam, Gail; Elander, James; Lusher, Joanne; Fox, Pauline; Payne, Nicola; University of Derby (2009-11)
      Authorial identity is the sense a writer has of themselves as an author and the textual identity they construct in their writing. This article describes two studies exploring psychology students’ authorial identity in academic writing. A qualitative focus group study with 19 students showed that authorial identity was largely unfamiliar to students, and highlighted the obstacles perceived by students to constructing authorial identities in university assignments. A questionnaire survey of 318 students explored the factor structure of an 18-item Student Authorship Questionnaire. Three factors described aspects of student authorial identity (‘confidence in writing’, ‘understanding authorship’ and ‘knowledge to avoid plagiarism’), and three factors described approaches to writing (‘top-down’, ‘bottom-up’ and ‘pragmatic’). Confidence in writing and knowledge to avoid plagiarism were significantly higher among year 2 than year 1 students. Both studies could inform interventions to reduce unintentional plagiarism by improving students’ authorial identity.