Variations in the Citation Use and Perceptions in Writing the Literature Review by EFL Postgraduates

Nayef Jomaa Jomaa
Karabuk University
Siti Jamilah Bidin
Universiti Utara Malaysia
Keywords: Academic writing, citations, EFL Arab postgraduates, literature review, PhD theses


Academically, citation is pivotal since it presents justifications for the arguments and a demonstration of the writer’s position. Despite the increasing number of studies on citations, little knowledge has been reported regarding the citation use and practices of EFL students within the ESL context. Hence, the present study aimed at investigating the extent of variation in the citation practices in the literature review of PhD theses in Applied Linguistics and Information Technology. The study analysed the citations qualitatively focusing mainly on several aspects, including using types of citations, the variety of the citations based on the type of the clauses in each citation, and the perspectives of EFL Arab postgraduates on using citations. A purposeful sampling was adopted in selecting the literature review of 20 PhD theses and nine EFL Arab candidates of Applied Linguistics and Information Technology. The results show the dominance of the integral citation in the literature review of Applied Linguistics and Information technology. The inter-disciplinary comparison also reported similarity in terms of the high frequency of using citations with clauses complexes. The discourse-based interviews revealed that EFL Arab postgraduates depended on the integral citation to highlight ideas, attract the reader’s attention, affirm the credibility of the cited information, and refer to the type of the information. The little available information on using citations and the possible effect of their native language may lead EFL Arab postgraduates to have their own strategies regarding citations use. Consequently, EFL postgraduate students probably need explicit instructions on the use of citations.