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Plagiarism & Academic Honesty

What is common knowledge?

(Source: Academic Integrity at MIT, 2020)

Common knowledge is information that is accepted as reliable and widely known by the average, educated person and generally does not require citation, including:

  • Information that most people know, such as the Golden Gate Bridge is located in California. 
  • Information shared by a cultural or national group, such as the names of national figures or heroes in a nation's history.

Keep in mind that not all information is widely known across academic disciplines, cultures or national groups, so when in doubt, cite.

How do I determine if the information I'm using is considered common knowledge?

Ask these key questions:

  • Who is my designated audience?

  • What is their pre-existing knowledge of the topic?

  • Will I be asked where I obtained my information?

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