Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 1297–1314 | Cite as

‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’: Recontextualization in Writing from Sources

  • Yongyan LiEmail author
Original Paper


Despite calls for more research into the writing expertise of senior scientists, the literature reveals surprisingly little about the writing strategies of successful scientist writers. The present paper addresses the gap in the literature by reporting a study that investigated the note-taking strategies of an expert writer, a Chinese professor of biochemistry. Primarily based on interview data, the paper describes the expert’s recontextualization (Linell, Text 18:143–157, 1998) strategies at three levels: ‘accumulating writing materials’ by modifying source texts, composing from ‘collections’ of cut-and-pasted chunks in drafting a review article, and adopting reusable citations in sources as a ‘map’. It is emphasized that through repeatedly revising his paper in light of his rhetorical intentions in a new context of meaning, the expert writer would maximally recontextualize the source-based text segments and citations in the paper, averting transgressive intertextuality (Chandrasoma et al., J Lang Identity Educ 3:171–193, 2004) as a result. The paper ends by highlighting the pedagogical implications of the study for English for Professional Academic Purposes (EPAP).


Expert scientist writers English as an additional language (EAL) authors Note-taking strategies Plagiarism in scientific publishing Recontextualization in writing from sources 



The support and cooperation of the anonymous participant has made the study reported in this paper possible. The insightful and constructive feedback from the readers of the previous versions of the paper has been invaluable.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of Hong KongHong KongChina

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