Remarks about plagiarism

Plagiarism is copying someone else's ideas and calling it your own. Whether you quote something directly or "paraphrase" it (taking an idea from an article and adapting it to your words), you must give credit to the author. If you quote something directly, you must put quotation marks around it and quote it with 100% accuracy. The only thing you need not credit is "common knowledge" including:

  1. information that everyone knows,
  2. common proverbs and expressions,
  3. information that is given in every source in the subject, and
  4. general conclusions that anyone could reach.

For example, you need not cite a source for the facts that John Cabot explored North America, that "A penny saved is a penny earned," that Charles Darwin died in 1882, or that watching television is a popular Canadian pastime. In the end, plagiarism is a matter of honesty.


Even if very little direct copying is used, if the idea belongs to another author, and a writer merely puts the original words into his or her own words, the result is plagiarism.


  • We revere men of genius because they have the ability to relate to all sections of humanity, so that everyone can find something for himself in them. Michelangelo, however, demands that we approach him on his own terms because he is so concentrated and uncompromising in his works. His artistry, both in form and content, is revealed to us in such a way as to cause all other things to seem insignificant and mundane.

This passage closely resembles the ideas of the original author who should be referred to as a reference at the end of the passage.


Common Historical Facts:

  1. Michelangelo was born near Florence on March 6, 1475 of aristocratic parents who had fallen on hard times.
  2. Alexander Graham Bell, lived in Brantford Ontario, worked as an acoustic engineer, and is usuually given credit as being the inventor of the telephone.

General Knowledge:

  1. Soccer is a popular sport.
  2. Birds are believed to have evolved from dinasaurs.
  3. The earth is round.

If you can find a reference that disagrees with any of these generally agreed upon facts, be prepared to quote the source, and give the author credit deserved.