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Academic Writing

Avoiding Plagiarism

Academic Writer

Academic Writer is a free tool to help students with APA Style and academic writing. To sign up for a free account, visit Academic Writer. Students will find guides, tutorials, self-quizzes, sample papers, tables and figures. In addition to templates, there is a reference generator to help with citations.

What to Cite

To avoid plagiarism, students should cite when presenting content from an outside source or when providing substantive information. Any outside content must be cited. In addition to citing text, visual aids such as images and graphs need to be cited.

Substantive information is background information the reader may need to understand your topic, such as a definition. This must also be cited to avoid plagiarism.

The exception to citing is when referencing common knowledge. If you are in doubt of if something is common knowledge or not, cite the source as it is better to overcite than undercite.

How to Cite

Citing is done in two ways: a list of references at the end of the work and in-text citation in the body of the work. Every item included in your reference list must match with a citation in the body of your work. Items should be listed in alphabetical order by the authors’ last names.

When in the body of the paper, a proper citation must include the author’s name and the year of the publication.

Example: Here is what a citation looks like when it is placed at the end of a sentence (Smith, 2018).

For a quick reference on how to cite in APA style, please visit the APA Style Basics page in the Academic Success Center. In addition, Academic Writer provides over 100 reference samples to help students format references. To view these sampels, please visit the APA Style Reference Examples page.


Paraphrasing is the act of taking the author’s words and rephrasing their thought into your own words. The new sentence should convey the same message but be more than merely changing out a few words. When you properly paraphrase, you demonstrate that you understand the statement’s underlying concept.

For additional help on paraphrasing, visit the Paraphasing area of the Academic Success Center. A weekly workshop titled “Properly Paraphrasing” is available twice a week. To sign up, click here.


Refworks is a free software tool available in the NU Library. It is a tool that helps you cite your sources correctly. Refworks serves as a place to catalog your resources. You can also create tags to help you organize your resources, allowing easy access in the future. To learn more on how to use Refworks, visit the Library Events Calendar and sign up for a Refworks workshop. Sessions are available weekly.


Top Three Most Common Academic Integrity Mistakes

Top Three Most Common Academic Integrity Mistakes
Improperly Paraphrasing

Challenges with paraphrasing are extremely common. Improperly paraphrasing means that the original content has not truly been converted to the student’s own words. Maybe the student changes one or two words or slightly shifts the sentence structure? A good strategy for putting content into your own words is to read the original content so you understand it, make a note of a few keys words (not sentences), step away from the content for a few minutes, and then put it into your own words in your own work.

Academic Success Center (ASC) • Help with paraphrasing (putting author’s words into your own words):

Overuse of Quotations

It can be tempting to take original content and add it into work as a direct quote and at times this is appropriate. In general though, most content should be paraphrased, showing the reader you understand the concepts. Unless content loses meaning, paraphrase.

Incorrect use of APA

Getting used to APA formatting takes time and sometimes a student may think they have properly cited a source when they haven’t. Remember as you work on your assignments: when you use a source, it should be cited in two places:

1) The body of the assignment where you are referring to the information from the source.

2) The list of references.

  • Academic Success Center (ASC) • Help with APA citations and references:

Need more support outside of the self-led resources?

  • Attend an ASC group coaching session:
  • Work with an ASC coach one on one: