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BALEAP PIM: Ownership in EAP

19th November 2021 @ 10:00am - 4:00pm


The University of York are delighted to announce the topic of the autumn BALEAP PIM: Ownership in EAP – Integrity, argumentation and authorial voice.

The idea of constructing arguments and of student writers finding their own voice has long been a central tenet of EAP. However, with increasing dominance of essays mills and sophisticated machine translation tools there is a pressing need to define attribution more generally, and to question how best to facilitate independent student writing in the current digital age. Controversies surrounding the use of proofreading services are ongoing, and freely available translation and checking software raise further questions over the reliability of independent coursework as a means of measuring language proficiency.

The event will feature two plenaries, one in the morning and another one in the afternoon.


Plenary 1: Integrity, argumentation and authorial voice across genres and discourse types by Prof. Sheena Gardner (Coventry University)

This paper presents an overview of genre families in assessed university student writing informed by data in the BAWE corpus, relates them to graduate attributes (through a focus on the social purposes of education in the UK), and explores the features of argumentation across disciplines.

Through examples, notably from recent MDA register analysis, I will argue that a focus on integrity, argumentation and authorial voice is less important in experimental discourse which tends to value factual explanation than in more discursive writing which tends to value individual argumentation, personal response and interpretation of evidence.

Related readings

Gardner, S., Nesi, H. and Biber, D. (2019) Discipline, level, genre: Integrating situational perspectives in a new MD analysis of university student writing. Applied Linguistics. 40(4), 646-674. doi/10.1093/applin/amy005 (open access)

Nesi, H. and S. Gardner (2012) Genres across the Disciplines: Student writing in Higher Education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Plenary 2: Machine translation and voice in academic writing by Mike Groves (University of Surrey) and Klaus Mundt (University of Nottingham)

Machine Translation (MT) quality has been developing dramatically in recent years (Lee, 2021), and there is an emerging recognition of MT as useful writing tool (Luo & Hyland, 2019) for students and academics whose first language is not English. In line with this. Bowker and Ciro (2019) have recently introduced the notion of MT Literacy as part of Digital Literacies in the academic context. Hence, this freely available and fairly sophisticated technology requires consideration in EAP, where students are likely to utilise it as facilitating tool for their academic writing. While the technology has visible strengths, it also comes with a number of limitations in terms of what and how it translates. For instance, it does not take into consideration different academic register preferences across languages, for example what may be considered suitable academic style in French and English. This also raises the question if or how MT transfers a writer’s voice from one language into another. This workshop will explore this question by first providing a brief overview of the state of play of MT and then presenting participants with MT output that they will analyse in breakout groups regarding if and how the writer’s voice is expressed and if that may be suitable to their current academic context. Finally, we will compare the group’s findings with our own and also consider the writer’s voice from the perspective of how well the MT output represents the source text.  It is hoped that this will enhance participants’ understanding of the technology, and that this understanding will enable EAP teachers to train their students in the optimal use of the technology to enhance the quality of their academic output.


Bowker, L., & Ciro, J. B. (2019). Machine Translation and Global Research: Towards Improved Machine Translation Literacy in the Scholarly Community. Emerald Publishing.

Lee, S.-M. (2021). The effectiveness of machine translation in foreign language education: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 0(0), 1–23.

Luo, N., & Hyland, K. (2019). “I won’t publish in Chinese now”: Publishing, translation and the non-English speaking academic. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 39, 37–47.


Programme (as of 20 October)

November PIM Schedule


Event website

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Presentation Abstracts and Slides

Nigel Harwood: The perspectives of lecturers, language tutors, and student writers on the proofreading of student writing

Before submitting writing for assessment, university students may seek help from a ‘proofreader’. However, articles about proofreading in publications such as Times Higher Education often question the ethics of proofreading, linking proofreading with plagiarism and cheating, and the boundaries of acceptable proofreading are contested (Harwood, 2018, 2019; Harwood et al., 2009, 2010, 2012). Indeed, there is evidence from proofreaders’ accounts that for some, proofreading involves only light-touch interventions at the level of grammar and punctuation, while others may understand legitimate forms of proofreading to include heavier-touch interventions at the level of argumentation and content. In previous studies, I have explored proofreaders’ profiles, beliefs, and practices, but there has been little work on other stakeholders’ views towards the proofreading of student writing. This paper duly reports on questionnaire and interview-based research soliciting the views of three parties on proofreading: (i) UK university lecturers; (ii) English language tutors; and (ii) undergraduate and postgraduate students.

There was broad consensus among all three parties that minor proofreading interventions such as the correction of apostrophes and word forms are ethically acceptable. However, students took a more permissive approach than lecturers or tutors towards more major rewriting and content interventions. Furthermore, within each group, there were outliers who held very different—indeed, incompatible—views on proofreading compared to other members of their group, taking either a much more or much less sympathetic view of proofreading on ethical grounds.

I end with a discussion of the implications of these findings for universities’ policies on proofreading.


Anna Murawska & Jane Templeton: Exploring professionalism, academic integrity and voice in STEM

A key part of our role as in-sessional EAP teachers is to notice, interpret and make explicit the values governing discipline-specific academic literacy practices. This can be challenging in unfamiliar disciplines, where our epistemological assumptions may be confounded. This is perhaps especially pertinent in STEM – a field not many EAP practitioners identify with and where, at taught postgraduate level, the technical content can often be inaccessible. There are, however, benefits to being outsiders and approaching disciplinary practices with curiosity and fresh eyes.

During our in-sessional secondment, to the schools of Chemical and Process Engineering, Earth and Environment, and Mechanical Engineering, we have observed the concepts of academic integrity and voice to be strongly influenced by disciplinary values and to diverge from our own understanding in certain significant respects. Drawing on conversations with lecturers and students, we will share examples of how the concepts of academic integrity and voice are perceived in some STEM disciplines, and discuss the potential implications of this understanding for course and material design. We will also reflect on the relationship between academic integrity and voice, and how “professionalism” (Gilmore et al., 2016) may be a useful lens through which to examine these disciplinary values and help deepen and expand students’ understanding of them, in order to better demonstrate them in their assessed work.


Heather McClean: Finding your voice: a multifaceted approach to originality and similarity in student writing

As growing numbers of students from diverse educational systems enter higher education in the UK, the concept of developing an academic voice can be extremely challenging to explain and even more challenging for students to comprehend. This 20-minute presentation will examine the changing face of assessment at University for the Creative Arts (UCA) Business School for the Creative Industries in response to the growing prevalence of essay mills and advanced machine translation software. It will examine current trends in assessment within the School, and show how academic staff and EAP tutors are collaborating to enhance and adapt assessment methods to address these issues. It will introduce some strategies for mitigating against essay mills and machine translation in summative assessments and the relative success of these strategies, and introduce the multi-faceted approach employed in the School to explain the concepts of academic integrity and consequences of plagiarism. Finally, it will explain how EAP tutors and academic staff are collaborating to ensure students fully understand the need to develop their own academic voice through conducting their own primary research and applying rigorous critical analysis to assessments.


Jane Heath: Whose voice is loudest in EAP tutorials? Authorial voice and power relations between EAP tutors and student

On pre-sessional EAP courses, students often complete an extended writing assignment, with regular tutorials in which they discuss their writing and feedback with a tutor. An initial, exploratory study carried out in spring 2021 aimed to shed light on EAP students’ experiences of these tutorials through semi-structured interviews. One theme that emerged was power relations between EAP students and their tutors, particularly in terms of how much influence tutors had on students’ writing. Most students interviewed seemed to accept their tutors’ feedback unquestioningly, while one more proficient student questioned and challenged it. This raises questions regarding authorial voice: to what extent do we as tutors support students in expressing their own voice rather than imposing our own voice on students’ writing? This topic has clear relevance beyond the field of EAP; for example, these questions are also relevant to supervision meetings in the wider university.

In this workshop, which intends to provide more questions than answers, we will briefly review some relevant findings from the interviews with reference to literature (e.g. Patthey-Chavez and Ferris, 1997; Haneda, 2004; Ewert, 2009; Wingate, 2019), and then discuss our current practices and future directions.


Maureen Finn: What do we teach when we teach voice? Lessons from student writing in the sciences

Supporting student writers as they find their own voice forms a part of the responsibility that EAP practitioners expect to take on, as they work with students of all levels and backgrounds in university settings. The term voice covers a wide range of meanings. It is variously defined as presenting the writer’s personal judgement about disciplinary-specific content (Hyland, 2012) and constructing a point of view. It is seen to be involved the structure of arguments, the negotiation of claims and the critique of others’ work. It is linked to evaluation (Hood, 2010). It can be affected by complex identities of race, class and gender (e.g. Benesch, 2009; Lea and Street, 1998) and reflect multiple aspects of the writer’s self (Ivanič,1997). It is seen as the cumulative effect of writer choices, and, as EAP practitioners, it is difficult for us to position ourselves within this wide range of definitions and functions.

Based on data from a recent PhD study, this presentation examines voice from the EAP practitioner perspective. Using purpose-built 30,000 word corpora from two disciplines and data from textual analysis, I will look at voice in post-graduate writing and will examine how common areas of language focus can be revisited and repurposed when considering the expression of the writer’s voice. I hope to open up the discussion about what we think we know about voice, what our approach tells students about ownership of voice, and to consider what we might want to do differently in our day-to-day teaching of voice.


Stephen Gow: Translation Software and AI: Implications for Assessment, Academic Integrity and Policy

Discussions of artificial intelligence produce both utopian and dystopian visions of the impact it will have on society. The reality is that the impact will be somewhere in between the visions – the only certainty is that there will be disruption caused by the emergent technology. In education, we are already seeing the impact of these disruptive technologies in the form of machine translation (Groves and Mundt, 2021). At the University of York, we have been exploring how to approach the use of machine translation by students (in coordination with the York St John and University of Leeds) and will present the findings and potential solutions. Research in this area (Organ, 2019) and institutional discussions reveal machine translation is having a significant impact on assessment, resulting in changing approaches to the study of language, accusations of academic misconduct and the modification of assessments. Translation software poses equally difficult and relevant questions for EAP and EMI. This talk will argue that translation software is only the tip of the iceberg of the impact of artificial intelligence in education, which will soon affect all subject areas. These changes will cause a fundamental rethink of assessment and education (Cope et al., 2020) that will require significant discussions between students and staff, assessment reviews and policy changes, if this disruption is to be handled without severe threat to academic integrity.

Cope, B. Kalantzis, M. & Searsmith, D. (2020) Artificial intelligence for education: Knowledge and its assessment in AI-enabled learning ecologies, Educational Philosophy and Theory, DOI: 10.1080/00131857.2020.1728732Groves, M., & Mundt, K. (2021). A ghostwriter in the machine? Attitudes of academic staff towards machine translation use in internationalised Higher Education. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 50, 100957.Organ, A. (2019). L’éléphant dans la salle / la pièce / le salon? Student use of Google Translate for L2 production: student and staff attitudes, and implications for university policy. Translation Technology in Education – Facilitator or Risk? Conference July, 2019. University of Nottingham


Qingyang Sun, Irena Kuzborska and Bill Soden: Designing a theoretical framework for investigating the construction of authorial voice through citations

The construction and interpretation of authorial voice has long been a central focus in academic writing, and the ways it has been investigated have been diverse. To advance our understanding of the concept of authorial voice and how we could measure its manifestation in student writing in a more objective way, in this presentation, we will first review its key conceptualisations and consider their links with the research on citation use. We will then argue that establishing authorial voice through the purposeful and strategic use of citations is a salient and explicitly observable aspect of it and will propose a specific framework to analyse authorial voice through citation use. To demonstrate the applicability of the framework, we will present examples of citation use in postgraduate English as second language students’ writing and illustrate how their use of citations can signal their authorial voice. Implications for EAP teachers on how they could further enhance students’ understanding of authorial voice and help them express their voice in writing are also discussed.


Tatyana Karpenko-Seccombe: Using corpora to help in teaching constructing argument and expressing writers’ voice

This workshop explores the potential for using corpus tools in teaching rhetorical elements of academic writing such as argumentation and writers’ voice. The workshop will focus on the practical ways in which these wider aspects of academic writing can be addressed through the use of corpora. In particular, the workshop suggests some practical corpus-based tasks and activities associated with argumentation and expressing the writer’s voice (stance, strength of claim, use of evaluative language) and explores ways of integrating these examples into everyday classroom practice. The tasks are based on the use of several corpus tools, Lextutor concordance, SkELL, BNC-English corpora and MICUSP. They are targeted at upper-intermediate and advanced second language learners – senior undergraduates, postgraduates and researchers – and can be used across multiple disciplines.


Walter Nowlan and Martin Seviour: The role of EAP practitioner in a university-wide project to address contract cheating

Contract cheating has been defined as ‘the phenomenon through which students employ or use a third party to undertake their assessed work for them’ (Lancaster & Clarke, 2016: 640), and while research shows that prevalence of paid-for assessments may be low (Newton, 2018), it is nonetheless worrying because it is deliberate (Morris, 2020) and difficult to detect. Furthermore, students operating through a second language seem to be more likely to engage in cheating behaviours (Bretag et al, 2018), making this a potential area of interest for EAP practitioners. The presenters report on their role in a cross-disciplinary sabbatical project investigating the prevalence and predictive variables of contract cheating behaviours and strategies to address these. They will provide key findings from the literature review element of the project and present the materials designed for teaching staff at the university resulting from this. They will then explore the potential role that EAP practitioners can bring to the contract cheating agenda and to university-wide academic integrity projects.

Bretag, T. et al. 2018. Contract Cheating: a survey of Australian university students. Studies in Higher Education. 44 (11), 1837-1856.Lancaster, T. and Clarke, R. (2016) Contract cheating: The outsourcing of assessed student work. In: Bretag, T (ed.) Handbook of Academic Integrity, pp. 639-654. Singapore: Springer.Newton, P. 2018. How Common Is Commercial Contract Cheating in HE and Is It Increasing? A Systematic Review. Frontiers in Education. 3 (67), 1-19. Morris, E. J., 2020. A changing focus: reconsidering research on contract cheating. In: Bretag, T. (Ed.). (2020). A research agenda for academic integrity, pp. 112-126. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.


Xuanhong Guo and Qiongyue Xu: “We make ‘the grey’ white”: A critical lens on proofreading service in UK academic settings

Proofreading services have emerged and proliferated in contemporary higher education. These services are ethically sensitive with regard to student writing in English academic settings. Hence, probing such an under-explored and ‘grey’ area is central to the field of EAP. Based on the approach of academic literacies, this article investigates proofreading services from the perspectives of students, supervisors, EAP teachers and proofreaders by conducting interviews with them. Specifically, this study explores the reasons that cause the emergence and features of proofreading services. Based on participants’ response to the relationship between proofreading and ethics in academic writing, this paper attempts to find the fine line between proofreading in academic writing and violation of academic integrity and makes ‘the grey’ white by setting possible standards or policies for proofreading services at the industrial and the institutional levels. Furthermore, through analyzing the interviews and considering the reasons why proofreading services are prevalent, this paper highlights the significance of language in academic writing. From this perspective, we argue that EAP teachers or one-to-one consultation services should not only focus on teaching norms of academic writing, but also take more responsibility for developing students’ language proficiency in the academic context.


Stephen Issitt: Teaching text synthesis, creating authorship and assessing transformational competence on an intensive EAP programme

The contention of this presentation is that the capacity to synthesise published texts into essays, dissertations and theses, achieving the resulting transformational competence and creating a genuine authorial voice are vital skills that we can as EAP professionals, impart to our learners. If we embed this concept into our curricular design and assessment framework, we can make clear and testable statements about our students’ readiness for academic study.

I outline the main features of our syllabus making reference to the exigencies of the online learning environment of the last two years and to the hybrid nature of some of our programmes. I also present a reading and response test designed to assess the students’ abilities to understand and report on academic texts, sketching its development and reporting on its internal components in terms of synchronisation, consistency and practical relevance. In doing so I compare scores on the reading and writing components of the test, showing them to be positively correlated and outline how transformational competence is made explicit in feedback to students. The presentation aims to show that if the idea of authorship is consistently and explicitly addressed, then the propensity and motivation to plagiarise is greatly reduced. Students in other words will not wish to make unattributed reference to published work and will have acquired the necessary tools to avoid doing it.


Brooke Boulton: Who Owns This Language? EAP Doctoral Students Negotiate Authorial Voice and Agency

This presentation explores how multilingual, international doctoral students navigate the dissertation writing process while using English for Academic Purposes. Globally, most students are required to use English to write their dissertations, and in many countries, English has become the language of mobility. Access to English language resources, such as articles, books, and instruction, as well as students’ socio-economic status, determine the level of English proficiency students have obtained prior to entering doctoral study. International programs, especially in Anglophone countries, set expectations of standards and norms that are often difficult for non-native English-speaking students to achieve, which inhibits their progress. As the dissertation is a magnanimous undertaking for any student in any language, students using English for academic purposes are at a greater disadvantage—not only must they strive to exhibit meaningful expression in another language, but they must also do so with authority all while exercising their agency. My current research into these phenomena shows that students, while offered virtually no choice in the language of their doctoral study or dissertation writing, navigate unique translating and filtering processes to negotiate their voices in English. Further, EAP doctoral students feel a sense of ownership with English that is discipline specific. Thus, in this presentation, I will present some of my findings to illuminate current perceptions of international doctoral students negotiating voice and agency.

Some of the recordings can be accessed through this playlist:


19th November 2021
10:00am - 4:00pm
Event Category:


University of York




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