Characteristics of doctoral students who commit citation errors

Vicki L. Waytowich, Anthony J. Onwuegbuzie, Qun G. Jiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - The purpose of this study was to investigate the citation error rate and quality of reference lists in doctoral dissertation proposals. This research also sought to examine the relationship between perfectionism and frequency of citation errors and the adherence of the reference list to the fidelity of the chosen citation style among doctoral students. Also of interest was to determine which demographic variables predict citation errors and quality of the reference list. Design/methodology/approach - Participants were 64 doctoral students from various disciplines enrolled in a graduate-level, dissertation preparatory course at a large southeastern university in the USA. Findings - Findings indicated that graduate students with relatively high levels of self-oriented perfectionism and other-oriented perfectionism tended to commit the most citation errors and construct reference lists that departed the furthest from the citation style stipulations. Participants' dissertation proposals, on average, contained more than 12 missing or inconsistent citations. This indicated that for every three citations included, one of them represented some type of error. Regression analyses revealed that: students with the lowest expectation levels tended to commit the highest rate of citation errors; and students who have taken the most courses in their graduate programs tended to receive the lowest scores pertaining to the quality of reference lists. Practical implications - These findings suggest a need for more formal and more deliberate approaches for all instructors to instill in students the importance of avoiding citation errors. Originality/value - To date, no research has investigated the role that perfectionism plays in relation to the commission of bibliographic citation errors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-208
Number of pages14
JournalLibrary Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Bibliographies
  • Postgraduates
  • Students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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