6 Ultimate Resources on APA and Avoiding Plagiarism

by Chrissine Rios, MA, Kaplan University Writing Center

Man at computer with apple. (c) Clipart.com

(c) Clipart.com


Students frequently ask writing tutors for help with APA citations and formatting as well as how to avoid and understand plagiarism. Instructors, as well, contact the Writing Center for help with educating students about APA and plagiarism prevention. In response, and in addition to one-on-one tutoring and student and faculty workshops, the KU online Writing Center has been creating and curating resources on these essential topics since our opening in 2004.

The following up-to-date, easy-to-use resources provide the most current, APA 6th edition guidelines, address the most frequently asked questions by students and faculty, and are available to you for free. A colleague in the KUWC produced the video for students on understanding Turnitin, but each of the others, I’ve had a hand in developing and editing, and as the point-of-contact for resources at the KUWC, I greatly welcome your questions, suggestions, and feedback in the comments. Thanks!

Each link should open in a new browser window. Bookmark or save them to your “favorites” for quick access and future reference. Happy teaching, learning, and writing!

Basic Citation Guidelines

Last updated in July, 2015, this comprehensive introduction to citation defines plagiarism and self-plagiarism, explains why, when, and how to cite, and describes how to quote, paraphrase, summarize, and properly synthesize source material in a paper using each of these methods.

The resource has a table of signal phrase verbs, an example of block quote format, and details on how to cite images and electronic sources. Also included are discussions of fair use, public domain, and common knowledge. It’s a must-read for any student learning research-based writing and any instructor teaching it. Access it here: http://bit.ly/citation-guidelines

Common Citations in APA (6th Edition) Format

Last updated in August, 2015, this extensive resource provides the large and small formatting details of in-text and reference list citations from the common author-date structures to the lesser-known capitalization standards. Please, do not use a citation generator when you can see exactly how to accurately format over a dozen of the most common sources right here.

For each type of source, you’ll find examples of the signal phrase and parenthetical citation methods for quotes and paraphrases. Also listed for each source type are the corresponding reference citations taking into account source variations (with a doi and without, with an individual author or sponsoring organization, . . . ), multiple authors, and missing information.

The resource also links to video demonstrations on making a title page and reference list, and at the end of the document you’ll find a sample title page, body page, and reference list.

Every student writing an APA style paper should have this resource handy, and every instructor teaching APA ought to keep this one close as well. The Table of Contents makes navigating the resource easy, and being a pdf, it’s also searchable. When we update this one, we keep the link the same, so bookmarking is better than downloading. Access it here: http://bit.ly/APA-citations


APA workshops are extremely popular at the Writing Center, and we probably have a hundred archived. First presented in February of 2015 and given multiple times since, this one is a new favorite among tutors and students because it makes a clear connection between plagiarism and common citation issues.

The workshop’s five tips cover the most important concepts of citation in regard to plagiarism prevention including paraphrasing effectively, cross-referencing, matching in-text and reference list citations, and using the 80/20 principle, which helps students understand the importance of their own voice and how source information needs to be synthesized within a larger, original discussion about a topic. Access the workshop archive here: http://bit.ly/5-tips-for-avoiding-plagiarism


Last revised in November, 2014 and newly published as a self-paced video in August, 2015 just for you reading this blog, this resource was a collaboration between the Writing Center and the KU Provost Office. It is a comprehensive (and long but highly relevant) training resource for faculty that covers everything an instructor needs to know about plagiarism:

  • the policies and penalties for plagiarism,
  • how to identify common forms,
  • how to add an assignment to Turnitin and analyze a Turnitin report,
  • how to report plagiarism, and
  • how to turn unintentional plagiarism into teaching moments.

What is especially wonderful about this resource is the emphasis on educating students about plagiarism (not scaring them with warnings and penalties). The guide even provides helpful examples of how to respond to students who have plagiarized. The November 2014 updates reflect Kaplan’s updated Academic Integrity Policy and revised definitions of plagiarism and self-plagiarism, so if you haven’t had plagiarism training at Kaplan in over a year, then you will definitely want to review this one. Access the self-paced presentation here: http://khe2.adobeconnect.com/faculty-guide-plagiarism/. You can also download this as a pdf.


Last revised in November, 2014 and newly published as a self-paced presentation in August, 2015, this paraphrasing practice activity is one of the many helpful links in the “Faculty Guide for Plagiarism” linked above. Have your students practice paraphrasing using this presentation during seminar or as a discussion board activity. Access the video tutorial here: http://khe2.adobeconnect.com/p27h2w3mkih/. You can also download this as a pdf.


New in May, 2015, this 5 minute 50 second video introduces students to Turnitin. Instructors rely on Turnitin to help identify and assess source use (and plagiarism). Turnitin is a great learning tool for students too, but not if they haven’t been taught how to read a Turnitin report. In this tutorial for students, KUWC tutor, Molly, clearly explains how to read and understand a Turnitin report.

If you use Turnitin in your courses, especially if you share the reports with your students, this video would be a great help to your students. It will answer their most immediate questions and help them learn as intended from their Turnitin reports. Access the video here: http://bit.ly/turnitin-for-students


If your questions about APA guidelines fall outside the information provided, I suggest you do what we in the Writing Center do: First, if you have the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition), look it up there. Next, check the APA Style Blog. If you still have questions, your friendly KUWC tutors are available to assist any and all Kaplan University students and faculty!

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