Challenges in source use for Chinese graduate students in the United States

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Writing Program


Rebecca Moore Howard


Chinese students, Source use, Documentation, Text borrowing, Intertextuality, Plagiarism, Cross-cultural intellectual property

Subject Categories

Rhetoric and Composition


To date few studies have closely examined the challenges faced by Chinese graduate students currently studying in the United States. Among the limited scholarship that exists, little has been discussed about theoretical frameworks to guide effective pedagogical programs tailored to Chinese graduate students in American college. This dissertation acknowledges the unique development paths that have led to Chinese students documentation style, and to pinpoint their rationale for plagiarizing so as to develop a sound pedagogical framework on which further discussion and implementation of training programs can be built. Specifically, this study investigates the perceptions and attitudes of Chinese and American graduate students towards textual borrowing. Research indicates that Chinese graduate students' plagiarism is a product of both language and culture. Low language proficiency is conducive for plagiarism, and cultural attitudes are determinative. The study recognizes that to these students plagiarism is a means of learning, rather than a matter of judgment error or moral transgression. The author recommends that educators think holistically about the educational system and about how to provide substantial value-added education programs on source use to Chinese graduate students. The author proposes a People-Program-Place-Process (PPPP) model that will help educators better approach source use education for Chinese graduate students in the United States.