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Avoiding Plagiarism

Need help avoiding plagiarism? Learn what plagiarism is, common plagiarism issues, and tutorials to help you avoid plagiarizing!

Common Knowledge

Common knowledge is information you can expect a regular person to know. For example:

  • There are 3 feet in a yard.

  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a US President.

  • The Civil War lasted from 1861-1865.

Common knowledge is dependent upon your audience! When speaking to a group of colleagues, more specialized knowledge is common knowledge as your audience is specialists in your field, rather than regular people.

I'm Not Sure It's Common Knowledge

Ideally, common knowledge fits both the quantity and ubiquity tests.

  • Look at quantity first - can you find the information in numerous sources?

  • Second, look at ubiquity - how likely is the information known by your audience?

If it's not well-known by your peers, the rule of thumb is to cite the information!

Common Knowledge for Physicians & Pharmacists

Specialized knowledge in your field can be considered common knowledge, but only if your audience is individuals in your field!

For physicians & pharmacists, this includes:

  • Drug dosages/Administration methods

    • Naproxen (325 mg tablet) should be taken orally every 8-12 hours. No more than 3 tablets may be taken per day.

  • Technical names

    • Gastroenteritis is the clinical name for the stomach flu. Dehydration is the most common problem in patients with gastroenteritis.

    • Acetaminophen is the generic name for Tylenol.

    • Gleevec is used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)

  • Test/Treatment names

    • An ECG is used to diagnose:

      • Arrhythmias

      • Coronary artery disease

      • Enlargement of the heart

      • Faster than normal heart rate (tachycardia)

      • Heart valve disease

      • Inflammation of the heart (myocarditis)

      • Past heart attack

      • Present or impending heart attack

      • Slower than normal heart rate (bradycardia)

    • Cardiac catheterization is done to show the amount of plaque in one's arteries

    • A biopsy takes a tissue sample from an area suspected to have cancer; the sample is checked for cancer cells.

  • Study types

    • Randomized controlled trial

    • Case report

    • Meta-analysis

    • Systematic review

  • Words that are part of the jargon in your field should not be cited!