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Academic research and professional writing are powerful vehicles for communicating your thoughts and ideas in your field of study and in the global workplace. University writing assignments allow you to practice academic and professional writing in a way that supports ethical and honorable writing choices that clearly communicate your ideas and learning. Your classes and programs are designed to guide you step-by-step through the development of your written communication skills. For example, assignments provide the parameters for each writing situation, so following the instructions is important in getting started and successfully completing each piece of university writing.
Characteristics of University Writing
- Considerations of Audience—In the university, you are writing for an audience of peers and members of the academic and professional community. Your audience determines how broadly or narrowly you describe your topic, what examples to use, and which words are most important.
- Critical Thinking–University writing involves critical thinking as you analyze and evaluate research and readings to form new ideas.
- Original Contributions—University writing seeks to contribute an original idea to a larger conversation. Within this conversation, you can analyze, evaluate, argue, create consensus, and solve problems. University writing creates opportunities for learning, discovery, innovation, and making change.
- Scholarly Research—University writing consults and cites scholarly research to create a non-fiction, research-based discussion.
- Formal Style—University writing uses a professional, polite tone and Standard English for word choice, grammar, and punctuation.
Writing with integrity in the context of academic research and professional writing means being honest with your reader and yourself. Know when and how to use APA or the required documentation style for your class or course of study, and be sure to accurately implement it.
University writing assignments are designed to guide you toward critical thinking, meaningful learning, and the confident demonstration of knowledge. Using research allows you to advance your learning beyond common knowledge and build on the ideas of others.
Reading the works of others helps writers
- discover ideas and topics;
- collect details, data, quotations, and similar evidence;
- narrow your focus;
- craft a thesis;
- support or counter assertions, claims, and facts;
- develop your own perspectives on a topic; and
- select the most effective and relevant evidence from all you have read.
Writers also use research in their writing to communicate professionally within their fields and across the disciplines. Research-based writing does not simply report others’ ideas and words, but instead builds on them to demonstrate a writer’s understanding and credibility as an ethical researcher, effective communicator, and critical thinker.
Writing with integrity requires creating an original piece of writing while discussing the original ideas of others and properly integrating and documenting these research-based ideas in your writing.
There are three ways to integrate research within academic and professional writing.
- Quoting: Using a source without altering it in any way—the work is used word for word. It is critical that quotation marks enclose all directly quoted passages.
- Paraphrasing: Using a source by breaking it down and placing it in your own words—the meaning is extracted or restated in new wording and phrasing in just as many words or slightly more words than the original.
- Summarizing: Using a source by synthesizing many points or simplifying a long text into a brief synopsis in your own words.
To write with integrity and avoid plagiarism when integrating research, document all borrowed information according to the documentation style you are using.
Documenting sources means to include select information about the sources–the books, articles, or webpages–you read and used in your paper. Documentation is required when quoting, paraphrasing, summarizing or using the ideas (artwork, photos, videos, etc.) or words of others. There are two main terms associated with documentation: in-text citation and reference list entries.
- differentiates the writer’s original ideas from what information already existed,
- supports arguments in a field of study,
- enables readers to locate your sources and additional information,
- ensures ethical research and scholarly practice,
- guarantees proper attribution of all ideas and avoids plagiarism.
Why Plagiarism Matters
Plagiarism compromises a writer’s integrity and reputation and usually results in serious consequences, both within the university and in the world of work. Fortunately, guidelines have been established to help you with academic and career-related writing. Your classes are designed to give you practice using one such approach.
APA Style (7th Ed.)
The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA, 2020) establishes a national standard for the layout of an academic paper and gives a method for documenting sources used in these types of papers. APA is one documentation style, and it is the most used style at Purdue University Global. Please check your assignment instructions for your professor’s style expectations. In the professional world other styles may be used.
There are three major elements in an APA-formatted paper:
- manuscript format (header, margins, font, spacing, etc.);
- in-text citations, formatted as narrative or parenthetical citations; and
- reference list entries with the bibliographic information needed to retrieve the sources cited in text.
APA In-Text Citations
In-text citations are notations in the narrative of the paper where research is being used. In APA style, these notations provide author-date information and in the instance of quotes, also the page number. In-text citations take two common forms: as a narrative citation before the cited material or as a parenthetical citation at the end of the cited material.
- Narrative citation to cite a paraphrase: Smith (2010) recognized that more online learning opportunities are needed to reach marginalized high school students and decrease the dropout rate.
- Narrative citation to cite a quote (Note the page number is added at the end of the quote in a second set of parentheses): Smith (2010) stressed, “The importance of dedicated study time for online courses is crucial for student success” (p. 3).
- Parenthetical citation to cite a paraphrase: Online learning opportunities are needed to reach marginalized high school students and decrease the dropout rate (Smith, 2010).
- Parenthetical citation to cite a quote: Many researchers agree: “Online education is a viable way to help working adults earn a college degree, but it is not for everyone” (Smith, 2010, p. 4).
Use the group author or sponsoring organization in the citation if the source does not have an individual author:
- (National Geographic, 2011, p. 78).
If the source does not name a group author or sponsoring organization, use the title of the work instead. There are a few basic rules to follow for the use of a title of a work inside the in-text citation.
- If the title of the work is italicized in the reference entry, italicize it in the in-text citation too: (Plant-Based Cooking, 2020).
- If the title is not italicized in the reference entry, then place double quotation marks around the title in the in-text citation: (“Whales in the Ocean,” 2020).
- If the title is long, you may shorten it for the in-text citation (e.g., the title “Dolphins and Other Warm-Blooded Mammals That Live in the Sea” can be shortened to “Dolphins” for the in-text citation. The reference list entry provides the full title).
- Use only title case for the title of a work inside an in-text citation: (Plant-Based Cooking, 2020). Use sentence case for the corresponding reference entry:
Plant-based cooking. (2020). https://www.plant-basedcookingebook.com
Whales in the ocean. (2020). Ocean Life Magazine. https://www.oceanlife.com
- Use “Anonymous” as the author only if the work specifically names the author as “Anonymous” (e.g., Anonymous, 2020).
No Year or Page Number?
- No year? Use n.d., short for “no date,” in the citation: (Sagorski, n.d.).
- No page number? Use the paragraph number. To determine the paragraph, begin at the title or heading and count the paragraphs to get to the one that contains your quote: (Sagorski, n.d., para. 4).
- If quoting an audio or video work, use the timestamp: (Ray, 2020, 03:15).
APA Reference List Entries
Reference list entries are formatted on a separate page at the end of the paper and provide the full bibliographic information for each source cited in text (Figure 1).
Reference list entries tell
- who the author is,
- when the work was published,
- what the title is, and
- and where the source can be found.
Sample APA Reference List
What is Purdue Global’s official policy on plagiarism?
- Purdue Global’s official policy on plagiarism is available in the University Catalog. See the Code of Student Conduct for details. What is the difference between accidental and intentional plagiarism?
- Accidental plagiarism may result from improperly using or inaccurately citing a source in text or referencing it on the reference list, while intentional plagiarism is knowingly using a source without proper citation or referencing or any citation. Both accidental and intentional plagiarism can be prevented with proper documentation of the borrowed information, but both accidental and intentional plagiarism have the same consequences of plagiarism. See the Code of Student Conduct for details.
What is self-citation?
- While original work is expected for each course and each assignment, there are instances when it is appropriate for a student to build on ideas from a previous assignment by citing themself. You may therefore cite small selected portions of previous work in a new work using the appropriate citation method. Note: Copying large portions or entire assignments for use in more than one course or academic assignment is considered cheating and is not permitted. See the Self-Citation Policy for details.
What is the Coursework Resubmission Policy?
- The Coursework Resubmission Policy allows students who are retaking a Purdue Global course after a failed attempt to resubmit previous coursework with proper citation and advance notice to the instructor. Read the Coursework Resubmission Policy for more information. Note: This policy does not apply to Concord Law students.
What about programs that automatically format papers according to APA standards?
- Most automatic formatting programs and citation generators rely heavily on the users’ ability to plug in information correctly; therefore, these types of tools should be used sparingly and cautiously and usually only after the user has a basic understanding of APA style. The Writing Center recommends Academic Writer, which has templates for APA formatting.
What documentation style should I use at work?
- There are many citation styles, and your field of work determines which to use or how you reference other source material. It is important to remember to always give credit to the work and ideas of others.
What about citing images?
- Like other types of research, photographs, tables, or charts borrowed or copied directly from a source have to be cited both in the text and on a reference list. There are two situations when you do not have to credit an image: if you use your own photography in your paper, you will not need to cite it and if you use a photograph from a site that allows for use without attribution, you will not need to cite it. However, if you use an image that does require attribution, you will do that in a note below the image and in a corresponding reference citation. Learn more by reading “Formatting Graphics and Visuals in APA Style.”
What about common knowledge?
- Common knowledge refers to relevant and objective information that is widely known and accepted as true by a certain group of people. Common knowledge is context specific. If information is determined to be common knowledge for your writing context, it does not need to be cited. Ask your faculty member if you are unsure.
- Criteria for Common Knowledge: -The audience should already know this information (e.g., a red traffic light means “stop” or there are four seasons in a year). -The same information can be found in multiple, general information sources (e.g., a state flower or a state bird will be the same across general information sources). -The information comes from folklore, mythology, or well-known stories that your audience would be familiar with because of a shared culture. -The facts are well known in your field of study and will be well known to your audience.
- Professional Experience and Common Knowledge: You may have a great deal of experience in your field, and something may be common knowledge to you but not to the audience for whom you are writing. Always be sure you adequately cite appropriate information for your academic writing and follow assignment directions. If your assignment allows, you may cite your own experience, but is may be good to cite your experience using phrasing such as the following: In my 20 years as a nurse, I have seen . . .
- Statistics: Statistics are not common knowledge since statistical information is typically not equally represented across general information sources. The source of the statistic, either as a primary or secondary source, needs to be cited.
- Quoting or paraphrasing another’s statement or interpretation of common knowledge: If you take a well-known fact word for word from a source, a citation and reference list entry is required to attribute the wording to the source and to avoid plagiarism. If you use another writer’s interpretation of common knowledge, that writer needs to be credited in an in-text citation and reference list entry, as the interpretation is not common knowledge or original to your writing.
How can the Writing Center help me with APA and avoiding plagiarism?
To access the Writing Center from the campus homepage, click “My Studies” then “Academic Success Center.”
- Ask a Writing Tutor:
- Submit a Paper or Question for Feedback by Email: You do not need to be present to receive a paper review or a response to a question. Your review or response arrives within 2 hours following the time you select on the tutor’s calendar. We are closed on University holidays.
- Connect With a Tutor for a One-on-One Session: The ASC uses a platform called Cranium Café. Tutors have Cranium Café Cards, and when online, there is a “Knock on Door” button, and it’s as simple as that! Writing Center Tutoring is open Monday 6-10 pm ET; Tuesday 12-10 pm ET; and Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday 6-10 pm ET. We are closed on University holidays.
- Study Studio: Find Writing Center Resources in the form of articles, videos, and podcasts that offer specific help with writing.
- Webinars: See the Webinar Calendar for the most up to date times of writing workshops and archives on using APA, integrating sources, and avoiding plagiarism.
American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association: The official guide to APA style (7th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000
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