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Academic Integrity at TCTC

A Flip-Guide to Ethical Academic Behavior

Citation is needed most anytime we extract information from another source that’s not simply common knowledge.  Using the original arguments, ideas, images, and word choices of another would all require citation. 

Most any information source -- from a musical composition to a photograph, from a poem to a lab report -- would be citation worthy. Some common source types might include…

  • Print sources, like books, journal articles, research reports, newspapers, magazines, interviews, government documents, or most any published material, including musical compositions and mathematical equations.
  • E-resources, like ebooks, articles from electronic databases, online news sites, but, also, websites, blogs, and social media messages.
  • Statistics and data, print or electronic, like tables, graphs, empirical data, summaries of scientific findings, surveys, and government reports.
  • Images, like photographs, paintings, illustrations, architectural plans, and infographics.
  • Streaming or traditional video/recording resources, like films, tv shows, documentaries, podcasts, and news clips.

When in doubt about the need to cite a source, don't hesitate to consult the course instructor, a librarian, or a tutor in the Learning Commons.  All those folks are there to help.

But citation is not needed for everything, depending upon the circumstances in which the information is presented. Citation would not be required for…

  • One's own ideas, personal experiences, conclusions, reflections, or exposition.
  • Historical Overviews, or synopses of events, again, drawn form multiple sources all of which are in essential agreement and unlikely to be controversial.
  • Common knowledge or broad overviews of information deemed non-controversial, verifiable through multiple reputable sources, and generally shared as established knowledge among the target audience.

It is important to note that what one defines as common knowledge is particularly dependent upon the expertise and the reasonably presumed knowledge of the audience being addressed.

In his Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism, Colin Neville maintains that our working definition of common knowledge should distinguish two main elements -- "common knowledge in the public domain...and common knowledge within a subject area or discipline" (Neville, 2010).  Neville offers us this example..."Thomas Hardy wrote Tess of the d'Ubervilles, and the poetic beauty of his languages raise it above other novels in the rural tradition (Winchcombe, 1978)."  The first section of the sentence presents an established fact, but the second section offers an interpretation.  Given the presumed audience, the fact is simply common knowledge and requires no citation, but the interpretation proffers a particular viewpoint which may not be widely accepted and, therefore, needs the reference.

 

Thomas Hardy wrote Tess of the d ’ Urbervilles , and the poetic beauty of his lan- guage raises it above other novels in the rural tradition (Winchcombe 1978)

MLA (Modern Language Assoc.)
Neville, Colin. The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism. Vol. 2nd ed, McGraw-Hill Education, 2010.

APA (American Psychological Assoc.)
Neville, C. (2010). The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism (Vol. 2nd ed). Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.

 

common knowledge in the public domain; and common knowledge within a subject area or discipline.

MLA (Modern Language Assoc.)
Neville, Colin. The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism. Vol. 2nd ed, McGraw-Hill Education, 2010.

APA (American Psychological Assoc.)
Neville, C. (2010). The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism (Vol. 2nd ed). Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.
common knowledge in the public domain; and common knowledge within a subject area or discipline.

MLA (Modern Language Assoc.)
Neville, Colin. The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism. Vol. 2nd ed, McGraw-Hill Education, 2010.

APA (American Psychological Assoc.)
Neville, C. (2010). The Complete Guide to Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism (Vol. 2nd ed). Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.