Psychometric evaluation of the Student Authorship Questionnaire: a confirmatory factor analysis approach

Joan Ballantine, Xin Guo, Patricia Larres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This research provides new insights into the measurement of students’ authorial identity and its potential for minimising the incidence of unintentional plagiarism by providing evidence about the psychometric properties of the Student Authorship Questionnaire (SAQ) (Pittam et al., 2009). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis (EFA and CFA) are employed to investigate the measurement properties of the scales which comprise the SAQ using data collected from accounting students. The results provide limited psychometric support in favour of the factorial structure of the SAQ and raise a number of questions regarding the instrument’s robustness and generalisability across disciplines. An alternative model derived from the EFA outperforms the SAQ model with regard to its psychometric properties. Explanations for these findings are proffered and avenues for future research suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596-609
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number4
Early online date25 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2015

Bibliographical note

Reference text: Abasi, A.R., N. Akbari, and B. Graves. 2006. Discourse appropriation, construction of identities, and the complex issue of plagiarism: ESL students writing in graduate school. Journal of Second Language Writing 15, no. 2:102-117.

Arbuckle, J. L. 2006. Amos 7.0 User’s Guide. Chicago: SPSS.

Ashworth, P., P. Bannister, and P. Thorne. 1997. Guilty in whose eyes? University students’ perceptions of cheating and plagiarism in academic work and assessment. Studies in Higher Education 22, no. 2: 187–203.

Bakhtin, M.M. 1986. Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Translated by McGee, V.W. Austin, Tx: University of Texas Press.

Biglan, A. 1973a. The Characteristics of Subject Matter in Different Academic Areas. Journal of Applied Psychology 57, no. 3: 195-203.

Biglan, A. 1973b. Relationships between subject matter characteristics and the structure and output of university departments. Journal of Applied Psychology 57, no. 3: 204-213.

Cattell, R.B. 1978. The Scientific Use of Factor Analysis in the Behavioural and Life Sciences. New York: Plenum Press.

Elander, J., G. Pittam, J. Lusher, P. Fox and N. Payne. 2010. Evaluation of an intervention to help students avoid unintentional plagiarism by improving their authorial identity. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education. 35, no. 2: 157-171.

Garcia, L. 2010. Accounting Students’ Expectations and Transition Experiences of Supervised Work Experience. Accounting Education: an international journal 19, no. 1-2: 51-64.

Geertz, C. 1988. Words and Lives: The Anthropologist as Author. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.

Hair, J.F., B. Babin, A.H. Money, and P. Samuel. 2003. Essentials of Business Research Method. New York, New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., USA.

Hair, J.F., W.C., Black, B.J. Babin, and R.E. Anderson. 2010. Multivariate Data Analysis. New York: Prentice Hall.

Harwood, N. 2005a. We do not seem to have a theory . . . The theory I present here attempts to fill this gap’: inclusive and exclusive pronouns in academic writing. Applied Linguistics 26, no. 3: 243-375.

Harwood, N. 2005b. 'Nowhere has anyone attempted...In this article I aim to do just that' A corpus-based study of self-promotional I and We in academic writing across four disciplines. Journal of Pragmatics 37: 1207-1231.

Hinkin, T.R. 1995. A review of scale development practices in the study of organizations. Journal of Management 21, no. 5: 967-988.

Howard, R.M. 1995. Plagiarisms, authorships and the academic death penalty. College English 57, no. 7: 788–806.

Hu, L., and P.M. Bentler. 1999. Cut-off criteria for fit indices in covariance structure analysis: Conventional versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modelling 6, no. 1: 1-55.

Hyland, K. 2001. Humble servants of the discipline? Self mention in research articles. English for Specific Purposes 20, no. 3: 207–226.

Hyland, K. 2002. Authority and invisibility: authorial identity in academic writing. Journal of Pragmatics 34: 1091-1112.

Ivanič, R. 1997. Writing and Identity: The discoursal construction of identity in academic writing. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Kinder, J. and J. Elander. 2012. Dyslexia, authorial identity, and approaches to learning and writing: A mixed methods study. British Journal of Educational Psychology 82, no. 2: 289-307.

Latour, B., and S. Woolgar. 1979. Laboratory life: The social construction of scientific facts. Beverly Hills: CA: Sage.

Lavelle, E. 1993. Development and validation of an inventory to assess processes in college composition. British Journal of Educational Psychology 63: 489-499.

Lavelle, E. and A.J. Guarino. 2003. A Multidimensional Approach to Understanding College Writing Processes. Educational Psychology 23, no. 3: 295-305.

Lavelle, E. and N. Zuercher. 2001. The Writing Approaches of University Students. Higher Education 42, no. 3:373-391.

Lindblom-Ylänne, S., K. Trigwell, A. Nevgi, and P. Ashwin. 2006. How approaches to teaching are affected by discipline and teaching context. Studies in Higher Education. 31, no. 3: 285–298

Matsuda, P.K. 2001. Voice in Japanese written discourse: Implications for second language writing. Journal of Second Language Writing 10: 35-53

MacCallum, R.C. and J.T. Austin. 2000. Applications of structural equation modeling in psychological research. Annual Review of Psychology 51:201–226.

Nunnally, J.C. 1978. Psychometric theory (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Park, C. 2003. In Other (People's) Words: Plagiarism by university students - literature and lessons. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 28, no. 5: 471-488.

Pittam, G., J. Elander, J. Lusher, P. Fox, and N. Payne. 2009. Student beliefs and attitudes about authorial identity in academic writing. Studies in Higher Education 34, no. 2: 153-170.

Swales, J. M. 1990. Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tait, H., N.J. Entwistle, and V. McCune. 1998. ASSIST: A reconceptualisation of the Approaches to Studying Inventory. In Improving students as learners, ed. C. Rust 262-271. Oxford: Oxford Brookes University, Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development.

Thompson, B. and L.G. Daniel. 1996. Factor analytic evidence for the construct validity of scores: A historical overview and some guidelines. Educational and Psychological Measurement 56, no. 2: 197-208.

Wells, D. (1993). An account of the complex causes of unintentional plagiarism in college writing. WPA: Writing Program Administration, 16, no. 3: 59–67.

Zwick, W.R. and W.F. Velicer. 1982. Factors influencing four rules for determining the number of components to retain. Multivariate Behavioral Research 17: 253-269.


  • Authorial Identity
  • Unintentional Plagiarism
  • SAQ
  • Discipline
  • Voice


Dive into the research topics of 'Psychometric evaluation of the Student Authorship Questionnaire: a confirmatory factor analysis approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this