Harnessing Sources in the Humanities: A Corpus-based Investigation of Citation Practices in English Literary Studies
Integrating outside sources for rhetorical purposes is an essential element of academic writing; yet doing so effectively can be problematic for academic writers. While corpus-based research into science writing has provided valuable insights into how published authors work with sources, citation practices in the humanities have remained largely unexplored. This paper analyzes citation conventions in a 35-article literary studies corpus and contextualizes its findings within previous research, thereby revealing distinctive writing practices in the field. Important findings include that literary studies authors cite relatively less and favor quotation over paraphrase and summary, unlike writers in previously-examined fields. As well, their syntactic integration of references and reporting verbs substantially differ. This research problematizes generalizations about humanities writing and questions assumptions regarding whether extensive commonalities exist between humanities and social science writing. The results provide further support for discipline-specific writing instruction and underline the need for further research into humanities writing practices.
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