Skip to Main Content

Academic Integrity: Citing Sources Best Practices

This guide has been created to provide you with quick access to resources on the topic of Academic Integrity.

Quotation of Sources

libsncu. (2014, July 23). Citation: A (very) brief introduction [Video]. YouTube.

A direct quotation is reproducing word for word material directly quoted from another author's work. A direct quote is the exact words of the original author without any changes to the text.

The following guidelines may help further your understanding of when to provide an in text citation:

  • Cite direct quotations that you copy from another source.

  • Cite statistics and data.

  • Cite pictures, illustrations and other multimedia.

  • Cite resources located in the public domain

  • Cite online sources including websites, articles, blogs, listservs, discussion boards, etc.

An indirect quotation (paraphrase) is when you express an idea or concept from another author’s work in your own words. Using an indirect quote involves taking information from the original source and paraphrasing or putting it into your own words.

When you paraphrase, you must also credit the original source.

The following guidelines may help you when citing indirect (paraphrase) quotations:

  • Cite all indirect or paraphrased quotes.

  • Cite ideas or concepts from another author that are not your own original ideas.

Common knowledge refers to information you can reasonably expect the general public to know such as widespread facts, dates or historical events (Caulfield & McCombes, 2022).

Common knowledge refers to information that the reader would accept without needing a citation.


Two Categories Of Common Knowledge

  • Information that most people know.
  • Information shared by a specific group of people, such as a national or cultural group, or discipline specific common knowledge.

Common knowledge does not need to be cited because it is widely known, undisputed, easily verified, and generally not attributable to a specific author; however, a good practice is to speak with your instructor when you are unsure if information is common knowledge.


How To Determine If Something Is Common Knowledge

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is my reader, and what can I assume they know?

Are you writing for a general audience or for experts in the field?

  • Could my reader dispute this statement?

If your reader might be surprised by your statement, question its accuracy.

  • Could my reader easily verify this statement across multiple sources?

If you google it, can you find more than five scholarly sources that give the same information without citation?

  • If some of the search results contradict each other or you have to dig further to find the facts, you should provide a citation.


Common Knowledge Does Not Include

  • Data and statistics
  • Interpretations or arguments

Examples of common knowledge:

  • A year has 365 days.
  • Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories.
  • Canada uses the dollar as its currency.


Discipline Specific Common Knowledge

Discipline specific common knowledge is information that is so well-known within a field of study that it is considered common knowledge within this particular field..

To determine what is common knowledge can be tricky, so when in doubt, cite!



Caulfield, J. & McCombes, S. (2022, July 18). What is common knowledge? Definition and examples. Scribbr.

The following are some practices that may assist you in your research experience:

  • Practice effective note-taking.

  • Keep a working bibliography.

  • Paraphrase ideas into your own words.

  • Refer to the text to make sure you have not unintentionally copied information.

  • Use your own voice to put a new twist on old information.

  • When in doubt, provide full and complete references.

  • Remember that research, writing, and citing take time.

For more information on effective research practices, visit Library Services Research Guide.

Plagarism Rap (Cite Your Sources)

University of Alberta. Dean of Students (2013, December 8). Plagiarism rap: Cite your sources [Video]. YouTube.