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Citations: Citing Yourself


As strange as it may seem, you are committing self-plagiarism if you reuse your work from previous classes or degrees without appropriate citation. If you have made a point or conducted research in one paper that you would like to build on in a later paper, you must cite yourself, just as you would cite the work of others.

See below for Walden's policy on this issue and some examples of how to cite accurately. For another perspective on self-citation, see Matt's blog post, "The Northwest Passage, or Why You Should Cite Yourself Only Sparingly."

Walden University's Policy on Reusing Work

For guidance on when citing yourself might be appropriate, consult your instructor and the policy below from the Walden University Student Handbook's "Code of Conduct" (Walden University, 2020):

  • During their studies at Walden, students may write on the same topic for a second, third, or fourth time; regardless, their writing is expected to reflect new approaches and insights into that topic to demonstrate intellectual growth.
  • Walden recognizes that there may be some overlap between the requirements, assignments, and inquiry for different courses and KAM demonstrations. In general, students may use only small portions of documents as background or foundational material for additional development in a subsequent assignment or non-capstone research project. Students may not merely copy and paste substantial sections from one paper or KAM to another. Any use of prior work is at the discretion of the current instructor, and students must receive prior approval from their current instructor, who may request a copy of the previous work. Fair use laws must be respected for published documents.
  • When using their scholarly work in subsequent published research, students should cite themselves as a primary author and their previous coursework or KAM demonstrations as unpublished papers as shown in The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. An exception to this requirement is when students use prior work from courses or KAMS in their doctoral capstone projects (i.e., doctoral studies, projects, or dissertations). In this situation, students may use work developed initially in courses or KAMs specifically to build toward the final capstone project; however, students and committees need to make sure the most current literature and evolution of ideas are reflected in the final capstone product.

In other words, reuse previous work sparingly, use it only with good reason and your instructor's permission, and cite it using APA format. See below for help with the latter.

How to Cite Yourself

If you cite or quote your previous work, treat yourself as the author and your own previous course work as an unpublished paper, as shown in the APA publication manual. For example, if Marie Briggs wanted to cite a paper she wrote at Walden in 2012, her citation might look like this:

Briggs (2012) asserted that previous literature on the psychology of tightrope walkers was faulty in that it "presumed that risk-taking behaviors align neatly with certain personality traits or disorders" (p. 4).

And in the reference list:

Briggs, M. (2012). An analysis of personality theory [Unpublished manuscript]. Walden University.

If your original work contained citations from other sources, you will need to include those same citations in the new work as well, per APA. If Marie Briggs's earlier paper had cited Presley and Johnson, for example, it would look like this:

According to Briggs (2012), recent psychologists such as "Presley and Johnson (2009) too quickly attributed risk-taking to genetic factors, ignoring the social family issues that often influence the decision to explore pursuits such as tightrope walking" (p. 5).

Knowledge Check: Citing Yourself