This one of many questions teachers and researchers speaking at the Conference on College Composition and Communication 2011 asked themselves when sifting through over 164 student research papers from institutions in 12 states. They found that students often don't thoroughly analyze, summarize, or selectively include information from sources that are both reliable and relevant to the topic at hand.
InsideHigherEd reports, "about 90 percent of one page in a student's research paper was either a direct quote or patchwriting -- and 9 of its 17 citations referred to the same page of the same source: a single entry on WebMD. While the paper was an extreme and atypical example, it also demonstrated a common trend: students tended to rely heavily on their sources -- so heavily, in fact, that students rarely seem to fully own the material and marshal it to form a novel argument."
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