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APA Style and Plagiarism: What is Plagiarism?

Find detailed information about the basics of writing an APA style paper including in-text citations, reference lists, formatting your paper and tips for conducting research.

Cite AI Usage Reminder!

Please read the guidelines for using AI in your courses!

As an AI language model, it is a tool that can assist you in your research and learning process. However, it is important to note that using an AI language model like ChatGPT to generate content for academic papers without proper attribution or citation is considered academic dishonesty. You should use your own knowledge and research to generate original ideas and arguments for their academic papers. If you choose to use information or ideas generated by an AI language model, you must give proper credit and citation to the source (see the example below*).

Turnitin is used as a tool in this course, and it provides a report that allows students and staff to see where plagiarism may have occurred. It provides the instructor with a similarity index report which indicates the percentage of the submitted paper that Turnitin has identified as being matched against other sources. Turnitin provides an Artificial Intelligence percentage for all papers. Please review your similarity report before you submit your papers.

*Example Reference and Citation:

When given a follow-up prompt of “What is a more accurate representation?” the ChatGPT-generated text indicated that “different brain regions work together to support various cognitive processes” and “the functional specialization of different regions can change in response to experience and environmental factors” (OpenAI, 2023).

OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT (Mar 14 version) [ place the prompt here]. to an external site.


The above reference was approved by the APA and demonstrated on their blog post found here.

Research Writing


The goal of research writing is to:

-- Show that you've done your research, but write something original and in your own words.

-- Give credit where credit is due, but make your own contribution.

This can be tricky, and sometimes plagiarism is unintenional.

Harvard Guide to Using Resources


the next step

After finishing your rough draft, re-read your paper and ask yourself these questions:

(1) Did I take any information directly (word for word) from a source without using quotation marks?

(2) Did I use words or phrases from a source without giving credit to the original author?

(3) Did I use ideas that somoene else made up without giving them credit?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then you are not done and need to make the proper changes to reflect the use of someone elses words or ideas.

What is Plagiarism?

PLAGIARISM (noun) - the unacknowledged use of someone else's words or ideas

Plagiarism is:

  • Borrowing or stealing someone else's paper.
  • Using a source too closely when paraphrasing.
  • Building on another person's ideas without the proper citation. 
  • Copying from another source without citing.


Artwork by Nina Paley; (

Steps to Paraphrase Correcty

Steps to paraphrase effectively:

1. Reread the original passage until you understand its full meaning.

2. Set the original aside and jot down your paraphrase from memory.

3. Write a key word or phrase to remind yourself the topic of information.

4. Check your paraphrase with the original passage to make sure you included all essential information, but in a new way.

5. Use quotation marks to identify any unique terms or phrases you have borrowed exactly from the source.

6. Include citation information to identify where the information came from.

What's the Big Deal?

Why is plagiarism such a big deal?

Plagiariasm is considered a serious academic crime. Not only is plagiarism unethical, but it could be illegal. Plagiarism cases are usually interpreted by the courts as copyright infringement.

Reputations and careers have been ruined due to allegations of plagiarism. Notable people who have been accused of plagiarism include:

Under Federal law, there are both civil and criminal penalties for copyright infringement. Civil law allows the copyright owner to collect actual damages or “statutory” damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. Criminal penalties are up to five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

Under City College Conduct Policy it can lead to your dismissal from school.