Academic discourse - the exchange of ideas, perspectives or findings on a topic - dictates that certain conventions are used where scholarly conversations are taking place. Scholarly conversations can occur in various locales: in classrooms or online forums, through papers or presentations, in asynchronous or synchronous fashion.
One of the conventions used in academic discourse is to cite our sources each time we introduce an idea, perspective or finding into a discussion that is not our own.
When you think about it: good conversations take place with several people contributing, and meaningful scholarly conversations will require your own contributed ideas, perspectives or findings as well as the other conversation participants.
We can integrate sources into our scholarly conversations by:
directly quoting the contributor (including statistics and data)
paraphrasing - using the original thoughts of a contributor, but rephrasing them in your own words with often a similar structure and length
summarizing - taking major talking points from the contributor and reducing the size of the content shared
The contribution of visual research to the conversation like the use of a table, graph, figure or image must also be acknowledged through citation.
When working on academic research projects and contributing to conversations through online forums, papers, or presentations; convention also dictates the use of citation through a two part process:
Acknowledgment of the source with a brief notation after you use it in the body of your work (a.k.a. parenthetical or in-text citation). This brief notation links your audience to the second part of your citation.
A more detailed description of the source that is located in the Works Cited or References page at the end of your work. This detailed citation allows your audience to find the creator and source and reuse the information themselves.
There is one exception to these citation conventions, which is called common or foundational knowledge. Common knowledge statements are well known facts and do not need to be cited. Makes sense, but determining when information is common knowledge can sometimes be challenging because it depends on the context in which the conversation is occurring.
The graph below illustrates the various degrees of common knowledge based on different audiences (general common knowledge, common knowledge within a specific field, not common knowledge).
Credit: Vermont Community College