Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Academic Integrity

Guide to having academic integrity and avoiding plagiarism

Tips for Deciding - Common Knowledge Grey Areas

For those instances where it could be common knowledge--or not--depending on the situation, ask yourself the following questions to help decide if you need a citation:

Who is your audience?  What does your reader already know?

  • Are you writing a paper for a course in your major and using terms/concepts that your professor expects you to know and understand?
  • Are you writing a paper for a general education course, tying in a concept from your major that your professor might not be familiar with?

In the first case, you might not need a citation, but in the second you should probably include one.

 

Will your audience/reader wonder where you found the information--and/or question whether it is correct?

  • When you write that "college students should do their homework," most people would agree with that and not question it.
  • If you write, "80% of college students are satisfied with their grades," most people would want to know where you found that information since it sounds like the result of a survey or the findings of a research study.

The second example is a statistic, and that is one of the categories of information that always needs a citation.

 

Please contact the Library, the Learning Center, and/or your professor if you need help determining what is and is not common knowledge.