The growth of human knowledge is, in many ways, like a great conversation.
Each new generation of scholars critiques the opinions of older scholars,
sometimes defending and sometimes offering objections, much as people do who
are having a polite but serious conversation on important matters. In a
normal conversation it is easy to know who is talking, and it is easy to
keep track of who has offered which opinions. In the Great Conversation of
human knowledge this is more difficult, since the conversation takes place
over many centuries, and in many languages.
be thought of as a set of conventions that have been adopted to help the
Great Conversation proceed more smoothly. Any conversation has such
conventions. For instance, it is impolite to walk up to a conversation and
start speaking before you know what the conversation is about. In the Great
Conversation, a new speaker is also expected to know what the conversation
is about before offering his or her own opinion. To show that you know what
has been said by others, you need to explain how your own opinion has been
influenced by previous “speakers” in the Great Conversation. To do this, you
need to refer to those speakers, i.e. you need to cite their work.
When to give credit
(adapted from Avoiding Plagiarism
University’s Online Writing Lab)
|Need to cite when
||No need to cite when
- referring to someone else’s ideas, opinions, or theories, such as by
- reprinting or copying graphical elements such as diagrams, illustrations,
maps, charts, and pictures
- using ideas from others given in conversation, interviews,
correspondence (letters or email) or heard during lectures, speeches, and
media such as television and radio
- using ideas, opinions, or theories that are genuinely original with
- writing up your own experiment results
- including your own artwork or other original creation
- recording anecdotes about other people, in which those people remain
- using common knowledge according to accepted criteria
Purdue University Online Writing Lab, Avoiding Plagiarism: Safe Practices, 18 September 2007,
(accessed August 29, 2011).
Citations in the How to Credit Sources section use Chicago style.