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Citation Resources: Academic Integrity vs. Plagiarism

Information on using APA / MLA / Chicago Citation Style Guides / Citation Builders & Managers / Writing Resources & Plagiarism

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism Resources

Citing your work is about more than just fulfilling the requirements for your assignment. Under U.S. Copyright Law, the creator of an original work (for example, an author) has the right to be credited for their work. Thus, it is a legal and ethical issue to document the sources you use. It is as well a demonstration of your trusted membership within the larger community of scholars. 

Plagiarism is a serious intellectual offense in professional and academic writing.  It "is the presentation of someone else's ideas or words as your own. A form of academic dishonesty, it carries potentially severe penalties, ranging from failing the assignment, failing the course, to expulsion from the university." 

-- National University Writing Center.

Read more to see what else the Writing Center recommends:  Plagiarism

The flip side of plagiarism is Academic Integrity. It speaks to the ethical role of academic scholarship. As students and faculty engage with the broader community of scholarly communication, we are challenged to respectfully join the conversation. 

To avoid plagiarism, keep the following in mind:

  • Quoting a source: use quotes and provide a citation
  • Summarizing: provide a citation
  • Paraphrasing: provide a citation
  • Using statistics or facts that are not common knowledge: provide a citation

Careful note taking and writing are key to avoiding plagiarism.  Keep track of where your ideas come from while reading articles, books, or browsing the Web.

National University uses SafeAssign (in Blackboard) to help students check their writing for plagiarism. This is available in all online courses if enabled by faculty. For questions about SafeAssign, students need to contact their instructor. 

Plagiarism detection software is not available from the Library.

For plagiarism detection options outside of National University, check out this list of the top 10 free plagiarism detection tools.


FACULTY: To allow students to use SafeAssign to check their papers for plagiarism, you must do the following:

  • For the assignment in question, go to Edit Assignment > Submission Details.
  • Allow for multiple submissions.
  • Enable SafeAssign, and allow students to see SafeAssign reports.

For more information, please see the Blackboard Plagiarism Tools page (must log in through SSO).

Carefully review the citation guide recommended by your instructor to be sure you are following the correct format:

  • APA: Frequently required in the Social Science & Science disciplines
  • MLA: Frequently required in the Humanities disciplines
  • AMA: Frequently required in the Health Sciences disciplines
  • Chicago: Frequently required in the History discipline
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Who Can I Ask?

Library liaisons/reference librarians and Writing Center tutors/coaches are happy to answer questions about formatting your paper or citations as well as to recommend resources to learn more, but they are NOT editors who "fix" your papers and reference lists.

That being said, let's see what we can provide...

  • Do in-text citations (referencing an author within the text of the paper) have to appear in the Reference List?
    • Yes, unless it is a personal communication.  Ask the Writing Center if you have more questions.
  • Is it OK to use a quote found in a book or article not written by that person?
    • It is best to go to the original source for a direct quote.
    • If you have questions about how to set up the in-text citation to acknowledge the original author and the secondary source, ask the Writing Center for assistance.
  • How do I know when to quote, paraphrase, or summarize?
    • Ask the Writing Center for assistance.
  • If I have to use a particular type of resource, such as peer-reviewed journals or trade publications or news articles, how do I know if what I have qualifies?
    • Ask your librarians if you are using appropriate sources and citing them correctly.
  • Who can help me check my reference list to see if it is correct?
    • Both the librarians and the Writing Center staff can help you look for patterns of incorrect citation formatting.  Reminder:  neither group will "fix" your reference list.
  • If I use the citation suggested by EBSCO or ProQuest, is that OK?
    • Database provided citations may require formatting help.  You may need to verify how the author is entered and the capitalization of articles.  Also, you may need to add the DOI or publisher URL.  If you have questions, ask your librarian or the Writing Center staff.
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