Common Knowledge, Academic Integrity, Documentation, and Plagiarism From the Essay 1 Assignment



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Common Knowledge, Academic Integrity, Documentation, and Plagiarism

From the Essay 1 Assignment

  • Using any source material (from websites, articles, etc.) that provides more than what would be considered common knowledge will lower your grade, even if that material is documented properly. Any source material that is plagiarized will likely result in a failing grade for the essay or the whole course.

Questions to Answer….

  • What source material is allowed in Essay 1?
  • What is common knowledge?
  • What is academic integrity?
  • What is documentation?
  • What is plagiarism?

Common Knowledge

  • Basic information available in numerous sources (common rule of thumb: 5 or more)
  • “Generally speaking, you can regard something as common knowledge if you find the same information undocumented in at least five credible sources” (Stolley, Brizee, and Paiz, Purdue Online Writing Lab).
  • Information commonly known by the general population or within a particular field of study
  • NOT opinions, analysis, interpretations, or exact wording

Common Knowledge?

  • IVCC is a community college located in Oglesby, Illinois.
  • IVCC began in 1924 as LaSalle-Peru-Oglesby Junior College and became Illinois Valley Community College in 1966.
  • The IVCC district includes all or part of eight different counties in Northern Illinois.

Common Knowledge?

  • Enrollment in the Accounting program at IVCC has seen a small decrease, but this trend is college-wide.
  • Illinois Valley Community College, currently nestled on a tree lined bluff overlooking the Illinois River in Oglesby, Illinois with a panoramic view of the twin cities LaSalle and Peru opened its door as LaSalle-Peru-Oglesby Junior College.

Common Knowledge Workshop

  • Brainstorm/list background information your reader will need to know about your place.
  • Highlight any of that information that you think you would need to look up, either to find or confirm.
  • Look for that information.
  • Test it for common knowledge:
    • Does it appear to be basic information available, without citation, in 5 or more reputable sources?
    • Does it appear to be information commonly known by people familiar with your place?

Summing up Common Knowledge

  • When in doubt about whether something is common knowledge, ask.
  • Common knowledge should not dominate Essay 1 (rely primarily on your own knowledge and experience).
  • Most likely will show up in the background paragraph.
  • No documentation necessary for common knowledge

Academic Integrity

  • What is integrity?
  • Mirriam-Webster: “the quality of being honest and fair.”
  • Academic integrity: honesty and fairness in all academic endeavors and interactions with others
  • What is academic integrity when writing essays?
    • Doing your own original work
    • Documenting any source information that is not common knowledge
    • Avoiding plagiarism

What is documentation?

  • Giving credit to sources for words (quotations) and ideas (paraphrases) that you use in an essay that are not common knowledge.
  • Done through in-text citation and a Works Cited page.
  • Documentation will be necessary for Essay 2 and Essay 3, but should not be needed for Essay 1.
  • Using source information that needs documentation in Essay 1 will lower your grade, even if it is documented.

What is plagiarism?

  • Definition of plagiarism from IVCC’s 2015-16 Catalog: “using the words or ideas of another as one’s own either on purpose or unintentionally” (“Student Rights and Responsibilities”).
  • Using sources without giving them credit (without documentation) or using someone else’s work as your own.

What would be considered plagiarism?

  • Using any source material outside of common knowledge (quoted or paraphrased) without providing full documentation
  • Failing to put quotation marks around the exact words of a source
  • Using another person’s work as if it were the writer’s own
  • Etc.

What are the possible penalties for plagiarism?

  • A low or failing grade on a paper or other assignment
  • An F for a course or a forced withdrawal from a course
  • Academic probation
  • Expulsion from a college or university

Plagiarism in the News

  • Washington Post article (John Walsh)
  • Columbus Dispatch article
  • U.S. News article
  • Plagiarism Today article
  • New York Times article

Bottom Line

  • Always do your own original work.
  • Be honest and, when using sources, do your best to use and document them correctly.
  • For Essay 1, don’t use any source material except common knowledge; make sure that the common knowledge is not used word-for-word.
  • Don’t guess and hope you have it right. Ask and know you have it right.

Avoiding Plagiarism Tutorial

  • Created by the IVCC Respecting Intellectual Property (RIP) Team.
  • Designed to provide an introduction to what plagiarism is, its consequences, and how to avoid plagiarism.
  • Used by multiple classes, not just English.
  • Available in Blackboard.
  • Our class: For now, Intro and Sections 1-2 (Definition, Consequences, Types).
  • Due date: See course schedule.
  • More discussion of these issues and Sections 3-4 later in the semester.
  • Questions?

Works Cited

  • “Accounting.” Community College Program Review Report. Illinois Valley Community College, Summer 2014. 4-5. Web. 20 Aug. 2015.
  • “History of the College.” Illinois Valley Community College. Illinois Valley Community College, n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2015.
  • Stolley, Karl, Allen Brizee, and Joshua M. Paiz. “Is It Plagiarism Yet?” Purdue Online Writing Lab. Purdue University, 13 Feb. 2013. Web. 20 Aug. 2015.
  • “Student Rights and Responsibilities.” 2015-16 Catalog. Illinois Valley Community College, 2015. Web. 20 Aug. 2015.


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