Cathy Aranda
Cathy Aranda

Common Knowledge in Academic Writing - What You Need to Know

4 min read

Published on: Apr 8, 2024

Last updated on: Apr 19, 2024

Common Knowledge

In academic writing, we are told to cite every possible information that we come across. However, there are cases when you need to let go of the urge to cite that information. One such case is common knowledge. 

In this blog, we will tell you:

  • What is common knowledge
  • When to cite it
  • How to avoid plagiarism when using common knowledge in your research paper. 

So, let’s get right into it!

What’s Common Knowledge?

The term common knowledge refers to information or facts that are widely known and accepted by a large group of people without dispute. 

These can include historical dates, basic scientific laws, or universally recognized truths. 

The key characteristic of common knowledge is that it doesn’t require a citation in academic work as it’s generally accepted. 

When to Cite & When to Let Slide

It can be difficult to determine when a piece of information is common knowledge or it needs citation. In some cases, you may need to cite common knowledge as well. 

Let’s have a look at when you should consider citing and when you should let it slide:

How to Determine When Something is not Common Knowledge

Here are some scenarios where citation is a must:

  • Direct Quotations: If you’re using an author’s exact words, they must be within quotation marks, followed by an appropriate citation.
  • Paraphrasing: Even when you put information into your own words, the original idea belongs to someone else and requires citation.
  • Unique Ideas or Research: Any information that isn’t widely known or available in multiple sources should be cited.
  • Audience: If you feel that your audience might not be familiar with the topic.
  • If in Doubt: If you are unsure about citing or not citing, it is best to cite the source. 

How to Determine When Something is Common Knowledge

Common knowledge doesn’t require citation. This includes:

  • Widely Accepted Facts: Information known by most people within a particular field or the general public.
  • Historical Dates: For instance, the year of a significant historical event like World War II’s end.
  • Basic Scientific Laws: Famous known facts such as the law of gravity or Newton’s laws of motion. 

Examples of Common Knowledge

Here are some common knowledge examples that do not need citations:

  • The Earth revolves around the Sun.
  • Water freezes at 0°C (32°F).
  • Shakespeare has died.
  • England is a constitutional monarchy.
  • The Sun sets in the West and rises from the East.
  • Russia is the world’s largest country in terms of land area.

How to Avoid Plagiarism with Common Knowledge?

Here is the tricky part: if the information is common, then is there a possibility of plagiarism? Yes, there is, as you can never be too cautious. 

Here is how you can prevent plagiarism;

  • Paraphrase: Ensure your paraphrased text is significantly different from the sources available online. 
  • Use Citations: Include in-text citations and references for the information in case you are quoting someone directly or the reference is readily available. 
  • Plagiarism Checkers: Before you submit your work, run it through a plagiarism checker to ensure originality.

Answer to All Citation Worries | PerfectEssayWriter.ai’s Citation Machine

If you need accurate citations within a few seconds, then PerfectEssayWriter.ai’s Citation Machine is your go-to tool. 

This amazing tool is easy to use and helps you quickly generate accurate citations. It offers references in multiple citation styles such as APA, MLA, Chicago, AMA, ASA, and many more. 

So what are you waiting for? Give it a try today and watch your citation worries disappear. 

Cathy Aranda

WRITTEN BY

Cathy Aranda (Mass communication)

Cathy is a highly dedicated author who has been writing for the platform for over five years. With a Master's degree in Mass Communication, she is well-versed in various forms of writing such as articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As an essay writing guide author at PerfectEssayWriter.ai, she has been helping students and professionals improve their writing skills by offering practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style.

Cathy is a highly dedicated author who has been writing for the platform for over five years. With a Master's degree in Mass Communication, she is well-versed in various forms of writing such as articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As an essay writing guide author at PerfectEssayWriter.ai, she has been helping students and professionals improve their writing skills by offering practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style.

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