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Common Knowledge


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Common Knowledge

  1. 1. Everyone knows that, right? Uhh… Nope
  2. 2. So what counts as common knowledge? <ul><li>Most people can identify common knowledge when they hear it, but when you’re talking about plagiarism, it’s best to have some guidelines established. </li></ul><ul><li>Sadly, many scholars disagree on exactly what counts as common knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>However, here are a few guidelines which should get you through: </li></ul>
  3. 3. Check for 3 things <ul><li>Sue Thompson of Cal State San Marcos Library (citation on page below) notes three criteria for helping to decide if something qualifies as common knowledge: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Quantity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ubiquity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>General Reference Source </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The more of these criteria the information meets, the better, but it’s not necessary to meet them all. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Quantity <ul><li>If the information shows up in a variety of independent sources, then it’s likely common knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Authorities vary on the number, but a good number of independent sources to shoot for is five (according to Purdue’s Online Writing Lab, citation below) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Ubiquity <ul><li>Look this word up, and you’ll find that it basically means that something’s all over the place. </li></ul><ul><li>The idea here is that a lot of people are likely to know the information. </li></ul><ul><li>One thing to remember, though: the answer to the previous bullet may be different for various audiences. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For example, if you’re over 25, this  # is a number or pound sign; if you’re younger, it’s a hashtag, and you might think it was invented by Twitter. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. General Reference Source <ul><li>There are general reference sources, and there are specialized reference sources. </li></ul><ul><li>If something appears in a general reference source (like a dictionary), you can probably assume it’s common knowledge. </li></ul><ul><li>If you’re more likely to find it in a specialized reference source (like the APA publication manual), you should probably cite the information. </li></ul>