Common Knowledge Vs Plagiarism

We all have been taught to cite the source from where we get the inspiration or idea. Similarly, giving credit to the author is also something essential to avoid the charges of plagiarism. But, you might have heard or read that you don’t need to cite the source while using the information that is common knowledge. Here, many of us get confused about what exactly is common knowledge and how it is different from plagiarism. 

Well, you don’t have to look further as we are going to discuss both the terms in detail and share major differences between them. So, let’s get into the main topic by discussing common knowledge first in detail. 

What is Common Knowledge?

Common knowledge refers to any data or information that is known by most people. In simple words, it is general information that almost everyone knows. There are different phrases or pieces of information that we all have read or listened to in college or school without knowing its source reference. For instance, Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865. Or, each year has 365 days. Therefore, we don’t know the original source of information. Moreover, we cannot refer to any specific source for such information because it’s common knowledge. 

The most prominent examples of common knowledge are:

  • Any Information that most people could reasonably know.
  • Mutual knowledge that’s commonly known by people from specific fields or domains of the professional world, like a doctor, content writers, bankers, etc. 

 What is Plagiarism?

Duplication of others’ words, ideas, thoughts, feelings, or phrases is commonly known as plagiarism. Stealing the work of anyone else in any shape and presenting it as your own creation is called plagiarism. This unethical act is considered a breach of professional ethics and norms. For instance, if an individual is presenting the research work of another researcher as his creation, then he is committing plagiarism. Like, it is estimated that there are 2.934 billion Facebook users. Now, this data is derived through proper research. Using this data without citing the source will be considered plagiarism. Check plagiarism online to avoid duplication of others’ work without their consent. It is a serious offense that can end up causing serious damage to a professional’s reputation. 

The primary types of plagiarism include:

Direct Plagiarism: Stealing or copying others’ work and presenting it as your own creation. 

Self-Plagiarism: Copying your own published text in your article. 

Accidental Plagiarism: Duplicating others’ content unintentionally or mistakenly. 

Mosaic Plagiarism: Combining text from different sources to create a single text. 

Difference between Plagiarism and Common Knowledge

Plagiarism and common knowledge are closely associated. Therefore, it is essential for you to give appropriate attention to understanding what is referred to as common knowledge and what will fall under plagiarism.  

There are different criteria that can help an individual understand whether or not some information can be considered common knowledge. These crucial factors include quantity and ubiquity. Here the important question arises: How can we justify what information has met the quantity criteria? Well, the answer is quite simple; many experts state that if any information or fact can be found in more than five independent sources, then it can be considered common knowledge. Here, another query arises: how can we evaluate if the fact is available on multiple sources? As there is a strong chance that a piece of information is copied or paraphrased and published on different sites. Well, extensive research can help you discover which facts count as common knowledge as they will be available in multiple sources for sure. 

The other important thing is analyzing whether that fact is ubiquitous or not. You will agree that a piece of information might be common knowledge in a particular domain. But, when it comes to other fields, it may require adequate attribution. The post-modernism theory clearly signifies that objectivity in a particular field can be subjectivity in another field and vice versa. Therefore, you have to do in-depth research to find the ubiquity of a fact to check if it’s common knowledge or not. 

Few Examples of Common Knowledge 

  • The first month of the year is January.
  • Beijing is the capital of China.
  • The earth revolves around the sun.
  • Water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius.
  • The Eiffel Tower is located in Paris.
  • The sun sets in the west.

Do We Need to Cite Common Knowledge?

There is no need to cite common knowledge in your article at all. The fact is already known, and cannot be attributable to any particular author or source. Citing the source is undoubtedly essential to avoid plagiarism. But, it is also important to understand that over-citation can also weaken your academic writing. Furthermore, it will be an inessential thing to add a citation to common knowledge. 

 Final Words

Common knowledge and plagiarism are separated with a very thin line. You need to analyze a fact critically to understand whether or not it’s common knowledge. The above-mentioned information would have enlightened you about both the terms adequately and guided you about the major differences between them. However, thorough research, appropriate analysis, and assistance from experts are sometimes required to ensure that a fact requires citation or not. We hope this blog will be helpful for you.