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Avoiding Plagiarism in APA Papers Academic Writing

by Suleman


A worsening concern in higher education is academic fraud. With respect to the specific problem of plagiarism, a variety of researchers have shown that a large proportion of college students perpetrate this form of academic delinquency and it has been noticed that at least one out of five students plagiarised a decent number of their essays or study papers in many courses (Lathrop & Foss, 2005). Many professional schools, colleges and universities have introduced student honour codes in response to this growing crisis, sometimes alongside academic rules and regulations needed for application and execution (Neely, 2009).

            Creation of an honor code is an important condition for building an environment of academic integrity and for preventing the involvement of student in plagiarism (Neely, 2009). However, several universities and colleges that have excellent honor code schemes continue to endure a substantial occurrence of academic misconduct. This is due to the fact that students vulnerable to fraudulence will keep on participating in these conducts as long as the governing institutional standards fall short in strongly asserting honesty and denounce delinquency (Carter & Punyanunt, 2007). Further prevention of plagiarism can effectively be realized thru systemic reforms that support an institutional culture of honesty. With that goal in mind, universities and colleges should execute wide-ranging techniques that integrate attempts both to prevent and perceive academic misconduct, alongside just but careful use of punishments against such behaviors (Carter & Punyanunt, 2007).

Avoiding Plagiarism in APA Papers Academic Writing

Still less students are well conscious that plagiarism is mistakenly using the argument of another individual in their articles without correct citations and citations (Barry, 2006). Students can cite and reference the author in their articles for a variety of significant reasons if they provide facts, figures, or graphs produced by anyone else, summarise or paraphrase the comments of another person, or copy the words of someone else verbatim (Barry, 2006). The American Psychological Association (APA) is an extensively used format of quotation and editorial practise in formal writing and is one of the easiest methods to prevent plagiarism (Moxley, 1992). This style is usually expected by writers and social science students when writing research papers for publication (Moxley, 1992).

While this essay stresses the APA citation and referencing guidelines, other tactics that can effectively discourage academic fraud, especially plagiarism, may not be dismissed.

Avoiding Plagiarism

It can give strength to the argument in your essay to successfully put together references from the experts with your own ideas and correctly quote and reference those sources. It helps readers to understand more about your subject without difficulties by providing full and accurate sources (Lathrop & Foss, 2005). And much when you want your thoughts to be remembered, other authors want and deserve appreciation for theirs. APA proposes both of these easy approaches to discourage plagiarism (Moxley, 1992). APA, however does not only emphasise on the value of attribution and referring, it still brings into consideration other methods of preventing plagiarism.

First, it is not a valid excuse to be ignorant of the techniques to prevent plagiarism. By consulting with an expert or verifying the class course outline, it is the responsibility of students and professionals to learn what documentation style they should use (Morgan, Dunn, Parry, & O’Reilly, 2003). Afterwards, learn the instructions for correctly applying that documentation format (Morgan et al., 2003). The most commonly used documentation formats are APA and MLA (Modern Language Association). Both groups circulate books about their guidelines for documentation (Moxley, 1992).

            Even though this may sound like commonsensical, authors usually ignore writing activities until due, possibly because they do not have sufficient time, they do not look forward to the activity, or they just do not manage their time well (Barry, 2006). Procrastination can cause panic, and consequently panic can force writers to make use of poor decision regarding plagiarism (Barry, 2006). Hence, it is important to begin looking for source materials for your topic as soon as possible and carry a note pad with you for note taking of important information/facts and ideas about how to strengthen your arguments with facts from your references. In so doing, if your mind blots out when you begin to write, you will have source material to use, and the urge to copy others’ work, ideas, or statements will seem less appealing (Lathrop & Foss, 2005).

            It is important to remember that professors are also in the industry of people, ideas, and words. They will most probably detect the alteration in your writing if you use someone else’s work without properly citing and referencing it (Lathrop & Foss, 2005). Furthermore, by discussing with you about your subject, they will most likely find out when you have attempted to use other authors’ statements as your own. Moreover, if you have reproduced all or part of your writing from the World Wide Web, your professors will now effortlessly be able to pinpoint the original work by making use of search engines (Neely, 2009).  

            Ignorance is not a valid pretext for plagiarism, as well (Neely, 2009). As you investigate your subject, be certain that you clearly specify in your notes which statements are your own and which statements are paraphrased or quoted from other references. If you quote an idea from another reference write it in verbatim or copy it word per word (Neely, 2009). Do not just alter several words or terms in the sentence because that is still plagiarism (Barry, 2006). Moreover, if you have paraphrased or quoted a source material, cautiously document which source the reference originates from and all the details required for properly recognizing that source (Barry, 2006). It would be very difficult to return to a library or Internet site the night before the deadline of your paper just because you overlooked taking note of the important details the first time.

            It would be really helpful to create an organized list of all the references you stumble upon and then organize your notes from each reference properly (Moxley, 1992). Nevertheless, there is no single correct way to take notes about a topic, so build a scheme that suits you.   

The APA Format

            An APA formatted research paper is written using the APA style. Even though the American Psychological Association format is concentrated on psychological research, the format throughout the years has received significant popularity and currently is a generally exercised discipline (Moxley, 1992). This was a writing style that was created in order to accompany all the research paper that has been consulted in psychology (Moxley, 1992). A large number of APA formatted research papers have research based checks hence they integrate or present a secondary data that has previously been studied by other researchers, physicians, and others. This is primarily performed because the material is continuously revised (Moxley, 1992).  

            Every in-text citation needs you to provide the important details of the source material (Lathrop & Foss, 2005). This is one of the primary features that make APA superior to the MLA format. Even though both formats concentrate on writing term papers there is a considerable disparity between the two styles (Lathrop & Foss, 2005). The APA format is not just about cutting and pasting someone else’s work but it is desired that writers paraphrase other authors’ ideas rather than directly quoting them (Barry, 2006). This makes sure that the writer fully understands his/her subject before s/he writes.       

When employing APA style, use the method author-date-page number of citation in the text (Moxley, 1992). This implies that the last name of the author, the publication year, and the page number for the reference should be written in the text, regardless if you are paraphrasing or directly quoting a statement from another work (Moxley, 1992). If you are talking about a statement from another source material but not quoting directly the reference, or mentioning an entire journal article, book, or other work, you simply have to recognize the author and publication year in the in-text citation (Morgan et al., 2003). If the author is not mentioned, as is occasionally the case when referring to a web page that mentions no author, make use of a shortened version of the page title in quotations to replace the author’s name (Moxley, 1992).  

With regard to short quotations, if you are including quotations of less than 40 words, write the passage in quotation marks in the core body of the document (Moxley, 1992). Then, write the author, publication year, and page number if parentheses and insert a complete list of references in the reference page. Exclamation points and question marks must be included within the passages if they are a component of the passage (Moxley, 1992). Semicolons, commas, and periods must be written after the in-text citation. Quotations more than 40 words should be written in block lines (Neely, 2009).

Another essential component of an APA formatted research paper is regarding the structure and composition of the research paper (Neely, 2009). The use of APA-styled heading is very essential; each research paper will normally have at least two levels of APA-styled headings. These headings have to be created in a concise and clear manner (Neely, 2009). They have to be created in a manner that you can determine the main headings from the minor ones that are written all over the paper (Neely, 2009). It is a requirement to make use of subheadings if the paper has subtopics to easily recognize them.

With regard to formatting that is exercised in the APA-styled research paper the required font size is a standard 10 to 12 and double spacing (Morgan et al., 2003). The title page that is created to draw the attention of the reader should comprise the issue, the name of the author, course title and then the date of submission or the term for which the paper will be submitted to the professor (Morgan et al., 2003). In-text citations discussed above have to be given proper recognition at the bibliography or reference page. Ascertain that the authors’ names are listed in an alphabetical way and you have correct delineation to identify the various source materials that have been consulted throughout the APA-formatted research paper (Moxley, 1992).           

In general, APA format builds principles of written communication regarding writing style, content organization, referencing, citations, and how to write a document for publication in specific subject areas (Neely, 2009). Besides making the task of editors easier by requiring everyone to apply the same style for a particular publication, making use of APA format makes it simpler for editors/professors to check and detect possible plagiarism (Neely, 2009). In order to understand the potential of APA format in deterring plagiarism, it is important to first discuss the process that goes into writing using the APA format.

            Following the standards of APA as an author will present readers with hints they can employ to understand your ideas and follow the flow of your thoughts more proficiently and to find facts or ideas of interest to them. It allows readers to concentrate fully on your thoughts by not engrossing them with unusual formatting (Lathrop & Foss, 2005). And it builds your integrity and credibility in the subject area by showing an understanding of your readers and their needs as writers themselves.     

Other Means to Prevent Plagiarism

            The most effective means to lessen plagiarism is to prevent it. Techniques helpful in deterring plagiarism involve integrity training along with course-level support and the use of selected preventive steps, such as honestly affirmations and honor promises (Lathrop & Foss, 2005). Perhaps essential to plagiarism is the reality that students vary in their beliefs as to what conducts are improper (Neely, 2009). For instance, more than 50% of students do not regard cut-and-paste plagiarism to be a grave misconduct (Neely, 2009). Because of this, students have to be better educated regarding the components of academic misconduct. 

            Specific policies that present clear explanations and instances of plagiarism can be useful in this regard. Nevertheless, defining delinquent practices alone encourages unhelpful legalistic proscriptions to the detriment of constructive ethical responsibilities (Morgan et al., 2003). Hence, besides being aware of what is prohibited, students also have to become aware of what is asserted, specifically, they have to know why rigorous norms of academic honesty are so fundamental in the academe (Morgan et al., 2003). With that goal in mind, many educational institutions oblige all newly-enrolled students to attend and complete a course on academic integrity that answers the questions what it is, why it is essential, and how to identify and avoid defying its principles (Barry, 2006). The deterrent value fundamental to such course is clearly declared by the United States Military Academy Cadet Honor Committee, “the more we educate, the less we investigate” (p. 378). 

            This form of training may be self-supporting and is usually Internet-based (Morgan et al., 2003). On the contrary, moral development can be incorporated into the syllabus thru mandatory professional ethics subjects that comprise plagiarism as a major issue (Barry, 2006). Where necessary, student training on proper referencing and responsible writing also can be incorporated as a part of trainings on information literacy (Barry, 2006). These courses, preferably, should be anchored in the relevant performance indicators and outcomes for the Association of College and Research Libraries’ standard 5, which proclaims that, “The information literate student understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally” (Neely, 2009, 114).  

            However, deterrence is not sufficient to put off plagiarism and other academic misconducts. Current studies show that the chances of being caught are the most effective preventive means against plagiarism (Lathrop & Foss, 2005). Any inclusive technique should hence include continuous attempts to check and identify plagiarism when it happens.     

Conclusions and Recommendations

            Academic misconduct, especially plagiarism, is a worsening problem for universities and colleges. Even though the execution of honor codes and use of APA writing format have had a positive effect on this issue, further prevention and reduction in plagiarism can only be realized through an inclusive strategy that encourages an educational culture of integrity. Major elements of this approach involve the following:  

  1. Every school, university, and college should create an honor code for the students along with academic rules and regulations required for application and implementation.
  2. All disciplines, particularly those in the social sciences, should strictly comply to the principles and procedures of APA formatting.
  3. All newly-enrolled students, as a prerequisite of matriculation, should attend and complete academic integrity training.
  4. All course outlines must comprise clear and decisive statements highlighting academic honesty and the exercise of any appropriate honor code, such as the risk of severe punishments or sanctions for any misconduct; such declarations should be matched with open and straightforward class discussion.
  5. Professors should exert every effort to embody academic honor in their teaching duties and endeavors. 
  6. Preventive measures developed to lessen the chances of academic delinquency should be executed as required, including the enforcement of honesty avowals for research papers.
  7. High priority should be given to enhanced involvement of students in and liability for omission of academic integrity procedures.
  8. High priority should be given to a recorded, performance-based sanction for plagiarism that can be temporarily edited out from the student record.
  9. Educational institutions should give clear and resolute support for advocating standards of academic integrity, such as the execution of a just and clear procedure and the reliable use of appropriate punishments/sanctions.

More studies are needed to determine the sensitivity of different services and computer-based programmes for plagiarism detection, in particular as used in human-related or subjective written tasks, with regard to the specific concern of checking for and identifying plagiarism. Meanwhile for evaluations, professional schools, universities and colleges may prefer to keep their own record of student work.

  • Barry, E.S. (2006). “Can Paraphrasing Practice Help Students Define Plagiarism?” College Student Journal, 40 (2), p. 377+.
  • Carter, S.L. & Punyanunt, N.M. (2007). “Acceptability of Treatments for Plagiarism”, College Student Journal, 41 (2), p. 336+
  • Lathrop, A. & Foss, K. (2005). Guiding Students from Cheating and Plagiarism to Honesty and Integrity: Strategies for Change. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
  • Morgan, C., Dunn, L., Parry, S. & O’Reilly, M. (2003). The Student Assessment Handbook: New Directions in Traditional and Online Assessment. New York: Routledge.
  • Moxley, J.M. (1992). Publish, Don’t Perish: The Scholar’s Guide to Academic Writing and Publishing. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.
  • Neely, T.Y. (2009). Information Literacy Assessment. New York: ALA Editions.

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