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Citing Sources: What to cite

This guide is to help Castleton students understand the process of documenting research for college assignments

What needs documenting

To document a paper adequately:

  • Provide a source for every direct quotation
  • Document (or cite) all ideas, opinions, facts, and information that you acquire from sources and that would not be considered common knowledge (see box to the right)
  • Document (or cite) all ideas, opinions, facts, and information that readers might question or want to know more about

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What doesn't need citing

You don't need to cite...

  • ideas that are your own

  • or information that is "common knowledge"

Common knowledge means information that does not belong to any one individual and can be verified in many different places.  Common knowledge is facts, dates, events, information or concepts that belong generally to an educated public.

Common knowledge is information that is freely available and was not produced as the intellectual property from the work of individuals

Some examples of common knowledge:  the population of Vermont or Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon or President Obama has two daughters or nictotine is addictive.

 


Caution:  Just because something is on the Internet doesn't mean it is "common knowledge." Most information on the Internet is someone's intellectual property.

Using info from another source

How do you incorporate information from another source into your paper?


Lots of help:

Harvard Guide to Using Sources


Quoting
When you use someone else's language word for word, you indicate this in a quotation.  You must attribute the quote to the original source.

Summarizing
Summarizing is putting
the main ideas of a source in your own wordsSummarized ideas must also be attributed to the original source. 

Paraphrasing
Putting a passage from a source into your own words is paraphrasing. This also must be attributed to the original source.


For more help with paraphrasing and quoting