Module 14. Attribution Quick Reference Guide

This guide provides content creators with some quick tools for properly citing open educational resources.

If you don't cite it, don't use it.

When utilizing someone else's work in your own, you should be sure to attribute the work.  In education, we generally use formatting guidelines from the American Psychological Association (APA), and you should cite works according to these guidelines if required for a research paper or publication. However, in most situations, a simpler citation that includes the work's title, author, license, and url will be appropriate.

Attribution

I didn't cite my source.

All work licensed under an open license will generally require you to properly attribute (cite) the resource in order to use it in your own work. Failure to properly cite one of these works if it is used in your own work is a violation of copyright.

At minimum, you should attribute such works with the following information:

Title
What is the title of the work (e.g., name of article, picture, or song)?
Author
Who created the work?
Source
Where did you find the work (e.g., url)?
License
What license is the work shared under (e.g., CC BY)?

As possible, you should also cite these works in such a way that it is clear to which portions of content the attribution refers and so that the attribution is prominent. For instance, if you include a Creative Commons image in a book you are writing, the attribution should be included as a caption under the image. When such attribution is not possible, including attributions in a works cited page is acceptable if it is clear to which content each reference belongs (e.g., providing page numbers).

Attribution Quick Reference Example Table

The following table provides you with some example citations. Simply copy and paste the example citation into your work and replace the author, year, titles, and urls to match the work you are citing.

For guidelines on attribution, please visit the Creative Commons "Best practices for attribution" web page.

Creative Commons License Brief Explanation Table
Short NameFull NameImageBrief ExplanationExample Citation
Public Domain Mark Public Domain - By Age Creative Commons Logo These works are not susceptible to copyright or their copyright has expired. No citation is needed for public domain works.
CC 0 Public Domain - Released Creative Commons Logo These works are released to the public domain by their authors before the copyright has expired. No citation is needed for public domain works.
CC BY Creative Commons Attribution Creative Commons Logo

Others may reuse, redistribute, revise, and remix the creation as long as they cite you.

 

Introduction to Open Education in K-12 by Royce Kimmons is licensed under CC BY 3.0

CC BY-SA Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons Logo Others may reuse, redistribute, revise, and remix the creation as long as they cite you and share their creation under an identical license. Introduction to Open Education in K-12 by Royce Kimmons is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
CC BY-ND Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs Creative Commons Logo Others may reuse and redistribute the creation as long as they cite you. They may not remix it or revise it. Introduction to Open Education in K-12 by Royce Kimmons is licensed under CC BY-ND 3.0
CC BY-NC Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial Creative Commons Logo Others may reuse, redistribute, revise, and remix the creation as long as they cite you, but they may not use your creation for commercial purposes. Introduction to Open Education in K-12 by Royce Kimmons is licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0
CC BY-NC-SA Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons Logo Others may reuse, redistribute, revise, and remix the creation as long as they cite you and share their creation under an identical license. They may not use your creation for commercial purposes. Introduction to Open Education in K-12 by Royce Kimmons is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
CC BY-NC-ND Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons Logo Others may reuse and redistribute the creation as long as they cite you. They may not remix it, revise it, or use it for commercial purposes. Introduction to Open Education in K-12 by Royce Kimmons is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Troubleshooting Citations

Attempting to cite web resources can yield a variety of unexpected problems and questions.  Though there is no standard method for dealing with many of these issues, here are some suggestions on a few that we have encountered.

What if there is no author mentioned?

Use the author of the website. If the website does not have a mentioned author, use the name of the website (e.g., "CK-12").

What if there is no copyleft license or notice of public domain mentioned?

Remember, just because no copyright symbol is present does not mean that the work is open (e.g., not every page of a Harry Potter book has a copyright symbol on it, but it is still copyrighted). Since everything is automatically copyrighted, you should generally assume that all work is copyrighted and should not treat it as an open resource without further investigation.

May I use a copyrighted work if I properly cite the author?

This depends on what you are using it for (see the discussion of fair use elsewhere), but generally, you must have written permission to use it in any significant way.

If something is marked as released under Creative Commons, but there is no specific license identified, which should I use?

You should probably either use the most restrictive license (CC BY-NC-ND) or the most common license (CC BY).  Use your best judgment.

Can I modify or revise a Creative Commons or copyleft work?

This depends on the license.  In most cases, yes, but you may need to release your new work under the same license.  The primary times when you cannot do this would be when the license prohibits derivative works (e.g., any CC BY-ND and CC BY-NC-ND).

Can I use Royalty Free work?

This is tricky.  Royalty Free does not generally mean free as in libre (i.e. free to use for whatever). Rather, it typically means that you can use a work in a very specific way (e.g., print an image up to ten times) that will vary based upon the provider. So, royalty free is essentially just another way of saying copyrighted, but the material might be able to be used in some very limited manner without paying a fee.

If something is copyrighted, does that mean I cannot ever use it?

You can use it if you have the copyright holder's permission. You can always contact the owner and ask her/him if you can use it. Open resources are handy, simply because they make it easier for you to use materials without asking permission every time you want to use something.

Open Citation Generator

If your citatoin needs to be in APA format, you may use this open citation generator to help you.

Open Citation Generator