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Library Research Skills for Land and Food Systems

Common knowledge

How can I use this?

Understanding the bounds of what is common knowledge helps you figure out what you need to cite in your paper.

What is common knowledge?

The first strategy involves asking yourself a question: Is this information common knowledge? So how do you tell if information is common knowledge? Simply defined, common knowledge is information that is generally known by many people.

Some examples of common knowledge:

  • The earth is round.
  • The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
  • It is cold in the winter in Saskatchewan.

An example of material that is not common knowledge:

  • From 1961-1990, the average temperature in July in Vancouver, British Columbia has been 17 degrees Celsius. (The Weather Network 2003) 1


Literature cited:

1. The Weather Network. 2003. Weather statistics [online]. Available from [accessed 22 May 2012].