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English 1000 Instructional Session - Allendorf

A guide used during English 1000 Instructional Session and to support the research needs of the course throughout the Spring 2024 semester.

Basic English 1000 Research Guide

English 1000 Basic Research Guide | a guide sharing general tools for conducting research

When to Cite

Common Knowledge Best Practices

There may be some additional reasons to cite information that is considered common knowledge:
  • If you plan to talk about the information at length throughout your argument
  • If you think your audience may not be familiar with the information
  • If the information included might be in question, or you are calling it into question


When in doubt, CITE! 

If the information is not your own idea, opinion, or data and it is not included in at least 5 credible sources, then you should cite it.

Common Knowledge Within a Field

Some information is common knowledge for one group of people, but not for others. 

The context in which information is being discussed impacts whether it is considered common knowledge or not. Context might refer to culture, religion, ethnicity, discipline, nation, and field of study.

For example, let's assume you are working on a speech on the topic of first-generation students. 

  • In a general English 1000 class, sharing the definition of first-generation students and citing where you found the definition would likely be helpful. In this case, the audience may be interested in learning more about how you came up with that specific definition, the also might be interested in learning more about what first-generation students' experiences are like for themselves.
  • In a student success course where all students admitted are first-generation students, and the course commonly discusses the topic of being a first-generation student, you may not need to define and cite the term first-generation students. In this scenario, your audience will understand what it is, and the term may already be used in other course tools without citation.

2 Important Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Who is my audience?
  2. What does my audience already know?


Common Knowledge

Generally speaking, common knowledge is information that is widely known and understood by the average person and cannot be easily disputed.

Examples of information often considered common knowledge might be:

  • famous historical dates - World War II ended in 1945
  • common sayings or cliches - it's an uphill battle
  • long-established facts or theories - Gravity is the force that attracts a body toward the center of the earth
  • general information - the state bird of Missouri is the Eastern Bluebird

It is important to note that what may be common knowledge for one group of people may not be common knowledge in another.

At the University of Missouri it is common to have people say "M-I-Z" and expect others to respond with "Z-O-U!" However, if you said "M-I-Z" to someone who had never attended or visited the University of Missouri, they may not know:

  • that you expect a response of "Z-O-U"
  • that you were starting to spell a word
  • that the University of Missouri is often called "Mizzou"

For more information on group specific common knowledge, see the tab for "Common Knowledge Within a Field".

Determine If Information is Common Knowledge

  • The information is known by the general population.
  • The information can be found in at least 5 other credible sources that included the information without citing it.
  • The information seems to have always existed or does not have a clear origin.
  • The information is something that you created - your thoughts, your opinions, or your data.

Avoid Plagiarism

Description: Plagiarism is often unintentional. This tutorial is designed to provide you with important skills and knowledge to help you avoid committing plagiarism.

Learning Objective: Learn about Plagiarism and test your knowledge with this interactive tutorial.

Watch a video on Academic Integrity to learn more: 
  Teaching Moments (7:03 mins) 
Visit the Office of Academic Integrity website to find resources for Students, faculty, and violation reporting and appeals.