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Misinterpretation of Material as "Common Knowledge"

Definition

Failing to provide citation for material because you believe it is "common knowledge" (when it is not) is considered plagiarism.

Example Source Text

None.

Draft

Linguistics asserts the existence of a critical period, which usually comes at puberty and marks the end of the fluid language acquisition of childhood. The critical period is the point at which many of the unused connections in the brain begin to die to allow the body to reallocate physical resources away from intellectual development to reproductive development. If a speaker begins to learn a language after his or her critical period has passed, he or she will always speak with an accent.

Explanation

This writer has made an assertion without finding a source for it because she or he believed the assertion to be widely enough known to be considered "common knowledge." However, most general readers would not know enough about the topic for the information to be considered "common knowledge." Thus, the writer should have found a source to support his or her claims. If a writer is ever in doubt about whether information can be considered "common knowledge," she or he should always err on the side of caution and provide documentation.

Corrected draft

Linguistics asserts the existence of a critical period, which usually ends at or before puberty and marks the fluid language acquisition of childhood. The critical period's end is the point at which many of the unused connections in the brain begin to die to allow the body to reallocate physical resources away from cognitive development towards reproductive development. If a speaker begins to learn a language after his or her critical period has passed, he or she will always speak with an accent (Abrahamsson 751-75).

Abrahamsson, N. "Second Language Acquisition and the Critical Period Hypothesis." Applied Linguistics 20.4 (1999): 751-75.