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WHY CITE?: WHAT ISN'T PLAGIARISM?

INTRODUCTION

Back to my favorite quote about plagiarism from OWL Purdue’s “Is It Plagiarism Yet?”  page:

“Bottom line, document any words, ideas, or other productions that originate somewhere outside of you” (2013).

Let’s focus on the “inside of you” part that is NOT considered Plagiarism.

COMMON KNOWLEDGE

What is common knowledge?

According to OWL Purdue, “you can regard something as common knowledge if you find the same information undocumented in at least five credible sources” (2013).

Plagiarism.Org explains common knowledge as “facts that are readily available from numerous sources and generally known to the public … and are not protected by copyright laws” (FAQ, n.d.).


Guidelines for Common Knowledge

You DO NOT have to cite the following:

  1. Facts or claims that appear in multiple sources and cannot be disputed

Barack Obama is the 44th president of the United States of America.
 

  1. Common popular sayings

Where there is a will, there is a way.

  1. Field-specific Context

Think about what you knew before you came to college and took classes on your field. How much knowledge did you gain? Today you can probably name some things that are considered common knowledge in your program of study.

Need more guidelines? Check out this University of North Carolina LibGuide!


CAUTION! This must be cited!

  • If you did not know something before your research, you need to cite it.
  • Even if something is common knowledge to your audience, you need to cite it if it is not common knowledge to you.

PLAGIARISM AND COMMON KNOWLEDGE

MORE ABOUT COMMON KNOWLEDGE

ASK THE ASC FOR HELP!

Need Academic Help? Contact the Academic Success Center (ASC)!

ASC CONTACT INFORMATION

YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE

This includes things like your opinion, observations and conclusions. Since you lived it, you are the source. 

YOU MADE IT FROM SCRATCH

This includes things you created, for example, a drawing, a jingle you made up, or a photograph that you 

YOU MADE IT HAPPEN

When you write your own conclusion, for example. a research paper. You used and cited sources, but the conclusion and connections were made by you.

TEST YOUR "COMMON KNOWLEDGE" KNOWLEDGE

  • Here is a short and sweet quiz by  McGraw-Hill’s Online Learning Center.

  • Here is a quiz by Amherst College to decide what is and isn’t common knowledge based on particular situations. See by clicking the link at the bottom of the page.

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