Answered By: Theresa Bell
Last Updated: Dec 21, 2019     Views: 119

If you are used to writing documents for non-academic or professional audiences, such as business reports, the focus on citations in academic writing may seem strange since professional writing doesn’t typically incorporate citations. In fact, in some types of professional writing, authors are actively encouraged to use the information and wording of other authors without citing the source of the information, such as when using talking points.

When writing for an academic audience, citations are necessary to acknowledge other authors’ intellectual property. Citing sources also shows that the author consulted research to find facts and is contributing to the field of study by building on another author’s research. Failing to cite ideas or work that originated with other authors is plagiarism:

Plagiarism is the act of presenting the ideas or works of another as one’s own. This applies to all materials, electronic or in print, including laboratory reports, seminar presentations, computer programs, research projects and results, postings online, in discussion groups, and statistical data. The use of such material either directly or indirectly without proper acknowledgment (i.e., footnotes or endnotes) is contrary to the norms of academic behaviour. (Royal Roads University, 2014a, para. 6)


Intentional improper citation may constitute plagiarism, such as not using quotation marks when required to indicate other’s work, not acknowledging significant concepts from other’s work even when you paraphrased it, and not actually looking at a source that you quote. (Royal Roads University, 2014a, para. 12)

At RRU, plagiarism is treated as academic misconduct, and the potential consequences range from an informal resolution to formal consequences, the breadth of which include a letter of reprimand to expulsion (Royal Roads University, 2014b, para. 5). For more information, please visit Plagiarism.

If you’re an RRU student, it’s likely you’ll be writing documents during your program that incorporate aspects of both professional and academic writing. For example, the Organizational Management Project in the MBA Executive Management program requires students to “examine a management problem, conduct academic and best case research, analyze options, and provide recommendations and a high-level implementation plan in a final report for the client or host organization.” (Royal Roads University, n.d.-b, para. 7). Similarly, the Organizational Leadership Project in the MA in Leadership program requires students to

conduct a project in the role of leader-as-inquirer in an organization to support proactive organizational change. The OLP allows students to practice organizational inquiry, leadership, communication, organizational consulting, and problem-solving techniques and methods. It also requires the thorough understanding and application and synthesis of the OLP related competencies. (Royal Roads University, n.d.-a, para. 1)

This blend of professional and scholarly writing reflects RRU’s focus on “relevant applied and professional education” (Royal Roads University, n.d.-c, para. 3). As scholar-practitioners, RRU students are expected to become comfortable with the conventions of both professional and academic writing, and we encourage students to start learning and practicing those skills early in their programs with the goal of being adept by the time they reach their capstone projects.

Students at RRU use the APA Style rules, and for more information, please visit APA Style and search WriteAnswers by keyword. If you’re an RRU student and you have any questions regarding citations, please use the WriteAnswers contact form to send us a private message as we’d be happy to help!


Royal Roads University. (n.d.-a). Courses: LEAD 640: Organizational leadership project. Retrieved from

Royal Roads University. (n.d.-b). MBA in Executive Management: Program description. Retrieved from

Royal Roads University. (n.d.-c). Mission, vision, goals. Retrieved from

Royal Roads University. (2014a). Academic integrity and misconduct policy for students. Retrieved from

Royal Roads University. (2014b). Academic integrity and misconduct procedures for students. Retrieved from