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APA Citation and University Writing: Plagiarism

Click through the tabs to learn the basics, find examples, and watch video tutorials.

What is Plagiarism

Avoiding Plagiarism Tool Kit

Approximately 20-30 minutes to complete.

Step 1: Watch a short video (3 min.)

Step 2: Read - What is Plagiarism?

Step 3: Examine 10 types of plagiarism.

Step 4: Read up more on 

What does it mean to plagiarize?

Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty. To avoid plagiarism cite your sources using APA Style citations, and learn how to paraphrase and quote.

Watch this short video. Produced by Bainbridge State College.

Paraphrasing a Quote

Do you know when to paraphrase and quote?

When to Summarize, Paraphrase, and Quote – from George Mason University’s Writing Center.

Writing Paraphrases – from UNC College of Arts & Sciences.

Paraphrase: Write It in Your Own Words. 6 Steps to Effective Paraphrasing – from Purdue University

Citing Yourself & Self-Plagiarism

Can I use parts of my past assignments in another paper? Do I need to cite myself?

The first step is to make sure that your instructor permits self-citing. The reason for the caution is that citing your past assignments may reflect that you are not broadening your knowledge and exploring new sources. In general, instructors do not want their students reusing all or part of past assignments. However, there may be instances when recycling sections or passages from past assignments is appropriate. In these instances, you may need to cite yourself to avoid self-plagiarism. Check with your instructor and read through these two tabs to evaluate your situation.

Here is what APA Style says:

Self-plagiarism. Just as researchers do not present the work of others as their own (plagiarism), they do not present their own previously published work as new scholarship (self-plagiarism). There are, however, limited circumstances (e.g., describing the details of an instrument or an analytic approach) under which authors may wish to duplicate without attribution (citation) their previously used words, feeling that extensive self referencing is undesirable or awkward. When the duplicated words are limited in scope, this approach is permissible. When duplication of one's own words is more extensive, citation of the duplicated words should be the norm. What constitutes the maximum acceptable length of duplicated material is difficult to define but must conform to legal notions of fair use. The general view is that the core of the new document must constitute an original contribution to knowledge, and only the amount of previously published material necessary to understand that contribution should be included, primarily in the discussion of theory and methodology. When feasible, all of the author's own words that are cited should be located in a single paragraph or a few paragraphs, with a citation at the end of each. Opening such paragraphs with a phrase like "as I have previously discussed" will also alert readers to the status of the upcoming material.

(Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 2010, p. 16)

APA Plagiarizing Handout

Source: Baker College

Q. What is self-plagiarism? How do I cite myself?

What is self-plagiarism?

  • "Self-plagiarism is the practice of presenting one's own previously published work as though it were new." (The APA Publication Manual, 6th ed. p. 170)

  • Generally, students are not supposed to turn in old assignment material or papers for new assignments. 

So when might a person need to cite one's self on the Reference page?

The instances in which you may need to cite yourself: 

  • You are repeating something you wrote in a work you had published.

  • You are repeating something you wrote in a work that you have not formally published, but that you have submitted for a class.

In the first scenario, it is rather obvious that you should cite something that has been published somewhere, even if it was something that you wrote yourself.

The second scenario is less obvious. In situations where you want to re-use some of your old material for a new paper, you have to cite yourself as if you are the author of an "unpublished paper." However, students are not to turn in old assignment material for new assignments. 

But if, in a very rare instance, you needed to cite yourself it would look something like this:

Smith, J. (2016). Title of really awesome paper that I wrote. Unpublished manuscript, Golden Gate University. 

Source: Southern New Hampshire university

If you want to re-use portions of a paper you wrote for a previous assignment or course, you need to take care to avoid self-plagiarism. The APA Manual (6th edition, p. 170) defines self-plagiarism as “the practice of presenting one's own previously published work as though it were new." This includes entire papers, and also slightly altered work. To avoid self-plagiarism, you should request approval from your instructor to use portions of your prior work, and you also need to provide a proper citation within your paper.

If you are citing your own writing from a paper submitted for a previous course, then you would generally cite it as an unpublished manuscript. Here are specific examples of how it works in the three major citation styles:

APA Style

The APA Manual (6th edition, p. 211) discusses unpublished and informally published works, including those submitted to a university/college for a course. This is the general format for the citation:

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of manuscript. Unpublished manuscript, University affiliation.

For example (don't forget to indent the second and subsequent lines):

Fisher, J. (2017). This is the title of my paper. Unpublished manuscript, Golden Gate University.