Global Health: UNC Project China: Ethics

Plagiarism includes...

  • Claiming someone else's words, thoughts, or ideas as your own, even if you rephrase them!
  • Copying material straight from a book, journal, newspaper, handout, web page or other source
  • Using someone else's words, thoughts, or ideas in a presentation and not acknowledging the source
  • Using another student's paper or a paper you found online and claiming it as your own
  • Submitting the same paper for two classes even if the paper is your own
  • Downloading or using images or music created by someone else without acknowledging the creator
  • Copying code to create a web page or application

Common Knowledge

Common knowledge is information that is widely known and accepted by many people. The use of such information without citation does not constitute plagiarism.

Common knowledge can be easily located in a number of sources and usually cannot be disputed.

Common knowledge may differ from one academic field to another. Established principles in a profession may be considered common knowledge within that particular field of study.

In a health-related article, researchers working in medicine and health affairs could name tobacco as the leading cause of preventable death in the US without a citation because this fact is common knowledge in their field. However, a first-year health sciences student may not know this statistic and would need to cite the source of the information.

Example

Tobacco use is cited as the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, making tobacco prevention an essential health priority.
From Smith, B. N., Bean, M. K., Mitchell, K. S., & Speizer, I. S. (2007). Psychosocial factors associated with non-smoking adolescents' intentions to smoke. Health Education Research, 22(2), 238-247.
 

In this health-related article, the author, a researcher, may make such a statement without citing a source. However, a first-year health sciences student may not know this statistic and would need to cite the source of the information.

When in doubt about whether or not information is common knowledge, CITE YOUR SOURCE.

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