May 12, 2016

Principles of Good Writing: Avoiding Plagiarism

HCooper 3-1-09

by Harris Cooper, PhD

Harris Cooper, PhD, is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. He is the author of Reporting Research in Psychology and editor of the APA Handbook of Research Methods in Psychology. He was the chair of the APA Journal Article Reporting Standards Working Group and served on the Publication Manual Revision Task Force for the sixth edition. In 2009, Dr. Cooper became the chief editorial advisor for APA's journal publishing program. In this role he serves as a resource for the editors of APA journals as well as the mediator of disputes between editors and authors and between authors and authors.

Test quote 2Committing plagiarism can have devastating effects on your education or career. Perhaps most distressing is that it is so easily avoided.

Plagiarism involves the copying of text into a new work without crediting it to the original source. The main reasons why people plagiarize are simple. First, they want credit for someone else’s ideas. This motivation can come from a desire to impress others and to foster career advancement. Second, it can occur because people are just plain lazy. They have found a passage written by another that fits their paper well and is expressed clearly. They think it would be too much effort to rephrase and credit the source. 

Instances of plagiarism can range from stealing an entire work, by simply changing the name of the author, to paraphrasing someone’s work and not attributing the ideas to the original written document (Turnitin, 2012). Also, motivation can be used to distinguish among acts of plagiarism (Barnett & Campbell, 2012). Plagiarism can be intentional or conscious. It can also be unintentional or inadvertent; for example, when you read something and then later forget that it had a source other than yourself. Regardless of the motivation, plagiarism is plagiarism, and the possibility of unintentional plagiarism means the steps you take to avoid it ought not be based on your memory alone.

Students often ask “how many words in a row constitute plagiarism?” There is no black-and-white answer to this question. Different people will answer differently. Also, context might matter. For example, it is not unusual to find descriptions of research apparatus and psychological measures that share short strings of words without attribution to the original source, and without engendering charges of plagiarism.

Pull quote 2The first key to avoiding plagiarism is to avoid stealing ideas. This is called “intellectual theft” and it can occur without the material in question having ever been committed to print. When you mention another person’s idea in your paper, say who said it first. If the idea has been around for a while, you can cite the original source, the most representative source, or the most recent source. In most cases, which source is most appropriate will be evident from the context in which it is being cited.

But plagiarism is more than intellectual theft, though passing off others' ideas as your own is just as serious. Plagiarism involves copying words. Your first line of defense against an accusation of plagiarism is using quotation marks. A citation and a quote will protect you from charges of plagiarism. Long quotes, the type that require offset from the regular text by indenting them, are also legitimate but they should be used sparingly and may require the permission of the publisher of the original work. Different publishers have different standards for when their permission is needed. You will have to visit their websites to find this out. Remember however, if your paper contains too many quotes it will look like a mash-up, lazy, and not very original.

Be sure as well to check your citations for mistakes. First, read the referenced material carefully to make certain the ideas you are attributing to it are in there and you have portrayed them accurately. Second, carefully check the spellings and date in the reference. Copy editing can be tedious work, but it is important so that credit is given where it is due. Typically, an incorrect citation will not be viewed as plagiarism as long as the error is minor and it is clearly just a copy editing oversight, not intentional.

Your second line of defense is citing and rephrasing. If you have rephrased someone else’s work, be sure to cite the original source. Sometimes, rephrasing can be difficult because the original authors did such a good job of conveying their ideas. That is no excuse for copying without quotes. It is also where laziness creeps in. When you rephrase, think about your “voice” and how it might express the idea differently. Also, in many instances, you will want to shorten or summarize what the original authors said.

Finally, your last line of defense is using a plagiarism-detection services (e.g., iThenticate, at http://www.ithenticate.com; HelioBLAST, at http://helioblast.heliotext.com). Some charge fees, some don’t. These software programs will compare your paper with millions of other documents found online and in scholarly reference databases. They produce (a) a report that lists the documents that share the most material and (b) copies of those documents with the shared material highlighted. When you submit your paper to a detection service, you will be asked to decide how many shared words in a row should lead to getting flagged.

Pull quote 1bAlthough this may seem like overkill at first, it is a worthwhile step if your paper is long and complex and builds on the work of others as well as your own. Theses, dissertations, and any work being submitted to a professional journal fit this definition. If you are submitting to a scientific journal, the first thing that will happen to your paper is that the manuscript coordinator will submit it to a check. By doing it yourself, you will see what they will see. Also, remember that plagiarism sometimes can be unintentional. This is a great way to check yourself against the unconscious copying of words.

Computerization has made it easy to cut-and-paste the words of others. It has also made it easy to detect when plagiarism has occurred. You can avoid allegations of plagiarism through awareness and honest effort.

Note

Here are two excellent sources of addition advice on avoiding plagiarism:

Roig, M. (2003). Avoiding plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and other questionable writing practices. Retrieved from http://ori.hhs.gov/avoiding-plagiarism-self-plagiarism-and-other-questionable-writing-practices-guide-ethical-writing

Stern, L. (2009). What every student should know about plagiarism. New York, NY: Pearson.

You can also read about plagiarism here:

Cooper, H. (2016). Ethical choices in research: Managing data, writing reports, and publishing results in the social sciences. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4312023.aspx

References

Barnett, J. E., & Campbell, L. F. (2012). Ethical issues in scholarship. In S. J. Knapp (Ed.), APA handbook of ethical issues in psychology: Vol. 2. Practice, teaching and research. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/13272-015

Turnitin. (2012). The plagiarism spectrum: Tagging 10 types of unoriginal work [Infographic]. Retrieved from http://turnitin.com/assets/en_us/media/plagiarism_spectrum.php

May 02, 2016

Principles of Writing: Passive and Active Voice

Chelsea blog 2
by Chelsea Lee

Few topics in scholarly writing raise as many questions as passive voice. Many writers have gotten the impression that passive voice isn’t allowed in APA Style or that if it is allowed, it is to be avoided at all costs. However, that’s an oversimplification. The reality is that sometimes the passive voice is appropriate, but many writers overuse it.

This post will show you how to identify the passive and active voices, explain the advantages and disadvantages of each, and help you choose the appropriate voice for your writing. Both passive and active voices are likely to appear in the same paper; it is just a matter of choosing the right voice given what you want to express.

Identifying Voice

Here is the classic formula for identifying the passive voice:

A “to be” verb + a past participle + the word by.

  • Active voice: The lion ate the mouse.

Lion eats mouse 1

  • Passive voice: The mouse was eaten by the lion.

Lion eats mouse 2

In the active voice sentence, the actor (the lion) is presented first, followed by the action (eating) and then the object of that action (the mouse). In the passive voice sentence, the order is reversed.

There are two caveats to this formula:

  1. Sometimes the word by is left out of a passive voice sentence but is still implicit in the meaning, for example, in a sentence like “This topic was addressed in the paper.” If you can ask “by whom?” and come up with a coherent answer (such as “by the researchers” or “by Smith”), then the sentence is still in the passive voice even though the word by does not appear. 

  2. Not all instances of to be indicate the passive voice, as in a sentence like “The participants were hungry.” Asking “hungry by whom?” makes no sense, so this sentence is not in the passive voice even though it has a to be verb.

Advantages of the Active Voice

The Publication Manual says to “prefer the active voice” (p. 77), and there are two main reasons why. First, the active voice clearly lays out the chain of events: Lion eats mouse. With a passive voice sentence, the reader must wait until the end of the sentence to discover who was responsible for the action. When used in a long sentence, the passive voice may confuse readers. Second, the active voice usually creates shorter sentences. Although your paper should include a variety of sentence lengths, shorter sentences are usually easier to understand than longer ones.

Here are two common cases in which you should prefer the active voice rather than the passive voice:

  1. Use the active voice to describe your own actions. It is completely permissible, and in fact encouraged, to use the first person to describe your own actions in APA Style. Use I to refer to yourself if you worked alone and we if you worked as part of a group (see PM 3.09 for more).
    • Active voice: I conducted an experiment about body image.
    • Passive voice: An experiment about body image was conducted.

  2. Use the active voice to acknowledge the participation of people in research studies, which is an important part of reporting research (see Guideline 3 on p. 73 of the Publication Manual for more on this). For example, researchers often administer surveys to participants or observe them for certain behaviors. Show with your sentences how participants completed actions, rather than how researchers acted upon them, as in these examples:
    • Active voice: The students completed the surveys.
    • Passive voice: The surveys were completed by the students.

Advantages of the Passive Voice

The Publication Manual also states that “the passive voice is acceptable in expository writing [writing used to give information on a topic or to explain something] and when you want to focus on the object or recipient of the action rather than on the actor” (p. 77). Here is an example of appropriate passive voice:

  • First-year students have been underserved by the university administration.

In this sentence, the focus is on first-year students. Depending on the context, this may be exactly what you are going for. The active voice version (“The university administration has underserved first-year students”) puts the focus on the university administration, which is not necessarily what you want. Remember, APA Style doesn’t prohibit the passive voice; it just requires that you use it wisely.

Strategies for Choosing the Appropriate Voice

Both the active and passive voices have uses in scholarly writing, so employ them appropriately. However, newer writers especially tend to overuse the passive voice, which can lead to clumsy, long, and confusing sentences. With that in mind, we recommend the following:

  1. Prefer the active voice over the passive voice to create clear, concise sentences; however, remember that the passive voice can also be an appropriate choice under certain circumstances.

  2. Identify cases of the passive voice by looking for instances of the to be verb + a past participle + the word by.

  3. Try rewriting a passive voice sentence in the active voice to determine which voice more clearly communicates your ideas.

For more on this topic, see section 3.18 of the Publication Manual.

Leave a comment if you've got questions that you want to be answered by us.

April 07, 2016

How to Cite a Blog Comment in APA Style

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

We’ve covered how to cite an entire blog and how to cite a specific blog post. So, what about when you want to cite a comment on a blog?

The elements of the reference are as follows:

Blog-med"who": This is the name of the individual who made the comment, either real or a screen name, whichever is shown.

"when": This is the date of the comment (not the date of the blog post).

"what": Use "Re: " followed by the title of the blog post.

"where": Each comment usually has a unique URL. Unfortunately, blogs differ in how they present that URL, so you may have to hunt for it. Look for words like permalink or persistent link or just click the time stamp, which will often change the URL in your browser to the specific URL of that comment.

For example, click a time stamp in my first comment below and you’ll find that the URL in your browser becomes http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2016/04/how-to-cite-a-blog-comment-in-apa-style.html#comment-6a01157041f4e3970b01b8d1ba04c1970c. It’s important to use the URL of the comment itself because sometimes the same person will leave multiple comments, and this takes the guesswork out of which one you meant.

If the comment does not have a unique URL, just use the URL of the blog post itself.

Using some of the same examples from the previous post, here’s how to cite comments on a blog:

Example References

David, L. (2010, October 29). Re: E-ZPass is a life-saver (literally) [Blog comment]. Retrieved from http://freakonomics.com/2010/10/29/e-zpass-is-a-life-saver-literally/#comment-109178

Mt2mt2. (2015, November 12). Re: A fast graph isomorphism algorithm [Blog comment]. Retrieved from https://rjlipton.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/a-fast-graph-isomorphism-algorithm/#comment-72615

In-Text Citations

As with other APA Style references, the in-text citations will match the author name(s) and the year.

Example In-Text Citation

... a "significant difference in the definitions" (Mt2mt2, 2015).

Bonus

Leave a comment and you may find yourself included in this post! In a few weeks, I will update the examples above to include a reference to one comment below.
 

April 05, 2016

How to Cite a Blog Post in APA Style

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

Dear APA Style Experts,

I’m a computer science major, and my favorite blog is called Gödel’s Lost Letter and P=NP, written by two esteemed computer science experts. Can I cite a post from that blog? I’m also writing a paper for my Introduction to Psychology class, and I want to cite the APA Books Blog. Can I?

Thanks!
—AdaFan2015

Yes. You can create an APA Style reference to any retrievable source, though you should of course consider whether the source is reliable, primary, and timely.

Citing an Entire Blog

First, if you want to mention the blog as a whole, just include a mention of it in parentheses in your text, just as you would for mentioning an entire website.

Example Sentences

I really enjoy reading the new APA Books Blog (http://blog.apabooks.org).

I have learned a lot by reading the Psych Learning Curve blog (http://psychlearningcurve.org).

Note: In the first case, the word Blog is capitalized because Blog is part of the name (APA Books Blog). In the second example, blog is not part of the name (Psych Learning Curve). 

Blog-croppedCiting a Blog Post

However, if you are quoting or paraphrasing part of a blog post, you should create a reference to that specific post.

The elements of the reference are as follows:

"who": This is usually one or two people but can also be a company name or other type of group author. In the first example below, the post was credited to just “Freakonomics” (a screen name for the author or authors of the blog by the same name). If a byline is not evident, look at the beginning or end of the post for wording like “posted by.”

"when": Blog posts generally provide the year, month, and date. Include these within the parentheses in your reference. If the blog doesn’t give that level of detail, just include the year or year and month, if that’s all you can find. (Note that your in-text citation will include only the year; see the examples below).

"what": This it the title of the blog post followed by a notation of "[Blog post]." 

"where": Use “Retrieved from” and the URL of the blog post.

Example References

Freakonomics. (2010, October 29). E-ZPass is a life-saver (literally) [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/29/e-zpass-is-a-life-saver-literally/

Heasman, B., & Corti, K. (2015, August 18). How to build an echoborg: PhD researcher Kevin Corti featured on the BBC [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/psychologylse/2015/08/18/how-to-build-an-echoborg-phd-researcher-kevin-corti-featured-on-the-bbc/

Mathis, T. (2015, August 12). What is human systems integration? [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blog.apabooks.org/2015/08/12/what-is-human-systems-integration/

rjlipton. (2015). A fast graph isomorphism algorithm [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://rjlipton.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/a-fast-graph-isomorphism-algorithm/

The name of the blog itself is not part of the reference, although it's often evident from the URL.

In-Text Citations

As with other APA Style references, the in-text citations will match the author name(s) and the year.

Example In-Text Citations

... according to research on the health effects of the E-ZPass (Freakonomics, 2010).

Heasman and Corti (2015) wrote about an echoborg.

Mathis (2015) stated that...

Dr. Lipton noted two problems (rjlipton, 2015).

I hope you found these examples helpful! In my next post, I’ll discuss how to cite reader comments on a blog.

March 21, 2016

How to Cite a Chapter Written by Someone Other Than the Book’s Authors

David Becker



By David Becker

Dear APA Style Experts,

I want to cite a chapter from Theoretical Basis for Nursing, 4th Edition, which is an authored textbook. However, the author of this chapter is not one of the authors listed on the front cover. What should I do?

—Frustrated Nursing Student

Dear FNS,

When referring to a chapter in an authored book, usually you would not cite that chapter in the reference list. Instead, you would cite the whole book and, if necessary, cite the chapter in text. This rule applies whether the chapter is written by one of the book’s primary authors or by a separate contributor.

Nursing Student

Even though it might seem sensible to cite that chapter as one would cite a chapter from an edited book, doing so could cause confusion. If you were to cite a chapter from an authored book in this manner, most of the information from the book reference templates at the bottom of page 202 in the Publication Manual would be maintained, with the names of the book's primary authors in the editor position. However, because you would be crediting them as authors and not as editors, you would need to delete the Eds. in parentheses. Authored books that contain chapters written by other contributors are relatively uncommon, and APA Style users are so accustomed to the format for citing a chapter in an edited book that this slight change might lead your readers to assume that you are incorrectly citing an edited book by accidentally leaving out the Eds. component. Although this may not seem like such a big deal, it could cost a student a few points for not following proper APA Style format. Or, if you're publishing your paper in a journal, you could find yourself battling with a prickly copyeditor.

To avoid all of this mess, the simplest solution is to just cite the entire book like you would do with any other authored volume:

McEwen, M., & Wills, E. M. (2014). Theoretical basis for nursing (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

In doing so, you are presenting readers with a reference format that they can immediately recognize as representing an authored book, which will help them retrieve your source. Then, you can clarify the unique nature of your source by simply crediting the chapter author in your narrative and identifying the chapter number as part of your in-text citation:

According to Melinda Oberleitner, "The hallmark of the transformational leader is vision and the ability to communicate that vision to others so that it becomes a shared vision" (McEwen & Wills, 2014, Chapter 16, p. 363).

This method also works when citing a foreword written by someone other than the book’s authors, which is a bit more common. However, foreword authors are sometimes given cover credit through a "with" statement—as in, "With a foreword by Charles Todd." In this case, it would be appropriate to cite the foreword author parenthetically in your reference, as described on page 184 in the Publication Manual. Here's an example of how such a reference would look:

Christie, A. (with Todd, C.). (2013). Hercule Poirot: The complete short stories. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Your in-text citation would only include the name of the book's primary author. The author of the foreword would simply be named in your narrative in the same way that you would credit the author of any other chapter not written by the book's main author:

In his foreword, Charles Todd described the characteristics of the famous detective Hercule Poirot (Christie, 2013).

If you come across any other complications when citing a book, feel free to leave a comment below or contact us.

February 23, 2016

How to Cite a TED Talk in APA Style

Timothy McAdooby Timothy McAdoo

Dear APA Style Experts,

How should I cite a TED Talk? Is the author TED or TED Talks or the speaker giving the talk?

Thanks!
—TED Listener

Thanks for asking! References include the who-when-what-where information that, ideally, allows your reader to find not just the source material but the source exactly where you found it. For online sources this is particularly important because the presentation and sometimes even the information provided can vary from one online location to the next.

Take, for example, this TED Talk by Amanda Palmer:

If you viewed the video on the TED website, a reference to this TED Talk would be as follows:

Reference:

Palmer, A. (2013, February). Amanda Palmer: The art of asking [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/amanda_palmer_the_art_of_asking

In-text citation: Palmer (2013) or (Palmer, 2013)

Note that the TED page and the video itself give only "February" as the date, so that's what you can include in the reference.

(As an aside, you’ll note that Amanda Palmer's name is also included in the title. This is not an extra element of our APA Style reference; it's included because her name is part of the title itself. TED videos include speaker names as part of the video titles.)

But, if you viewed the video on YouTube, the same TED Talk would be referenced as follows:

Reference:

TED. (2013, March 1). Amanda Palmer: The art of asking [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMj_P_6H69g

In-text citation:

TED (2013) or (TED, 2013)

YouTube shows the date that the video was posted as March 1, 2013, so that's the date to use in this reference.

The author name is TED in this case because the TED organization posted the video to YouTube, and that’s the information your reader needs to retrieve the reference. That is, for the "who" portion of a reference to a YouTube video, we use the name of the person or organization that posted the video

In that case, you might include information about the speaker, if necessary, in the context of your paper.

Example:

Amanda Palmer used examples from her career as a busker and a musician to discuss the sharing economy (TED, 2013).

January 26, 2016

Navigating Copyright for Reproduced Images: Part 4. Writing the Copyright Statement

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on how to cite an image reproduced from another source in APA Style. Here are Part 1Part 2, and Part 3

The fourth and final step of navigating copyright for reproduced images is writing the copyright statement.

All reproduced images (including tables) should be accompanied by an APA Style copyright permission statement and have a reference list entry (except for those images sold to you under a license, as described in Part 2, Sections B and C).

Copyright combo

The format of the statement depends on the type of source, but in all cases it’s as simple as putting the pieces of the reference in the order of title, author, year of publication, and source, followed by the copyright year and the name of the copyright holder (plus the permission statement, if necessary). The reference list entry uses basically the same pieces, but in a different order.

Here are example templates, copyright statements, and reference entries for images reproduced from journal articles, books, book chapters, and websites.  

Image source

Template or example

Journal article

Template

From [or Adapted from/Data in column 1 are from] “Title of Article,” by A. N. Author and C. O. Author, year, Title of Journal, Volume, p. xx. Copyright [year] by Name of Copyright Holder. Reprinted [or Adapted] with permission.

Example copyright statement

From “Social Media: A Contextual Framework to Guide Research and Practice,” by L. A. McFarland and R. E. Ployhart, 2015, Journal of Applied Psychology, 100, p. 1656. Copyright 2015 by the American Psychological Association.

Corresponding reference entry

McFarland, L. A., & Ployhart, R. E. (2015). Social media: A contextual framework to guide research and practice. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100, 1653–1677. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0039244

Whole book

Template

From [or Adapted from/Data in column 1 are from] Title of Book (any edition or volume information, p. xxx), by A. N. Author and C. O. Author, year, Place of Publication: Publisher. Copyright [year] by Name of Copyright Holder. Reprinted [or Adapted] with permission.

Example copyright statement

Adapted from Managing Therapy-Interfering Behavior: Strategies From Dialectical Behavior Therapy (p. 172), by A. L. Chapman and M. Z. Rosenthal, 2016, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Copyright 2016 by the American Psychological Association.

Corresponding reference entry

Chapman, A. L., & Rosenthal, M. Z. (2016). Managing therapy-interfering behavior: Strategies from dialectical behavior therapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Edited book chapter

Template

From [or Adapted from/Data in column 1 are from] “Title of Chapter,” by A. N. Author and C. O. Author, in A. N. Editor (Ed.), Title of Book (any edition or volume information, p. xxx), year, Place of Publication: Publisher. Copyright [year] by Name of Copyright Holder. Reprinted [or Adapted] with permission.

Example copyright statement

From “The Cortex: Regulation of Sensory and Emotional Experience,” by D. Christian, in N. Hass-Cohen and R. Carr (Eds.), Art Therapy and Clinical Neuroscience (p. 63), 2008, London, England: Jessica Kingsley. Copyright 2008 by Jessica Kingsley. Reprinted with permission.

Corresponding reference entry

Christian, D. (2008). The cortex: Regulation of sensory and emotional experience. In N. Hass-Cohen & R. Carr (Eds.), Art therapy and clinical neuroscience (pp. 62–75). London, England: Jessica Kingsley.  

Website

Template

From [or Adapted from/Data in column 1 are from] “Title of Web Document,” by A. N. Author and C. O. Author, year (http://URL). Copyright [year] by Name of Copyright Holder. Reprinted [or Adapted] with permission.

Example copyright statement

From “Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity: Data, Trends and Maps. Alabama Indicator Details Percent of Adults Aged 18 Years and Older Who Are Obese,” by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015 (http://nccd.cdc.gov/NPAO_DTM/DetailedData.aspx?indicator=29&statecode=30). In the public domain.

Corresponding reference entry

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Nutrition, physical activity and obesity: Data, trends and maps. Alabama indicator details percent of adults aged 18 years and older who are obese. Retrieved from http://nccd.cdc.gov/NPAO_DTM/DetailedData.aspx?indicator=29&statecode=30

Note that you should use the wording “Reprinted [or Adapted] with permission” only when permission has been sought and granted.

Where to Put the Copyright Statement

If the image is a table, the copyright statement goes at the end of the general table note. If the image is anything else, it is considered a figure for the purposes of an APA Style paper, and the copyright statement goes at the end of the figure caption. If you’re creating a PowerPoint presentation, put this statement at the bottom of the slide in which the reproduced image appears. 

Final Thoughts

Does all of this seem like a lot of trouble to go through just to include an image in a paper or in a presentation? If so, remember that this is just one example of a very important issue—ownership of intellectual property. Copyright infringement comes with serious legal consequences (anyone who has seen the copyright disclaimer before a movie knows that) and is considered stealing.

So remember, just because you found something on the Internet does not necessarily mean that you can freely reproduce it. Look at the terms of the copyright, determine whether you need permission, obtain permission if necessary, and ensure that you credit the author of a reproduced image with a copyright statement and reference list entry.

If you have further questions about reproducing images for a paper, please leave them in the comments below.

January 25, 2016

Navigating Copyright for Reproduced Images: Part 3. Securing Permission

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on how to cite an image reproduced from another source in APA Style. Here are Part 1 and Part 2.

The third step in navigating copyright for reproduced images is securing permission.

If none of the situations described in Part 2 of this series (Sections A–D) describe your case, you must seek permission to reproduce an image by contacting the copyright holder.

If the copyright holder is a large publisher, they probably have a permissions office to handle such requests (e.g., the APA Permissions Office). Otherwise, look for a “contact us” page on the site that contains the image to know who to contact for permission.

Brainbulbs-1200

Your request for permission should at minimum contain information about

  • what image you want to reproduce;
  • where you want to reproduce it (e.g., in a classroom paper, in an article to published, in a dissertation); and
  • whether you will be reproducing it online, in print, or both.

Allot several weeks of time to go through the permissions process. If there is no obvious person to contact, then you should not reproduce the image because you cannot obtain permission (we recommend you then choose something else that does not require permission).

 

Continue to Part 4: Writing the Copyright Statement

January 22, 2016

Navigating Copyright for Reproduced Images: Part 2. Determining Whether Permission Is Needed

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on how to cite an image reproduced from another source in APA Style. Here is Part 1.

The second step in navigating copyright for reproduced images is understanding whether you need permission from the image’s copyright holder before you are legally allowed to reproduce the image in your paper. This applies even if you are writing a paper for a classroom assignment and not for publication. 

Copyright-sign-conceptual-illustration-made-like-collage-of-travel-photos-1200

When Is Permission Required? 

Permission is only sometimes required to reproduce an image.

  • Permission is required to reproduce a copyrighted image unless it meets one of the criteria described below in Parts A, B, C, or D of this post.
  • Permission is not required to reproduce an image that has a creative commons license or is in the public domain. If that’s your case, proceed to Part 4 of this series.

A. Academic Sources

Many scientific, technical, and medical publishers will allow you to reproduce images (here meaning tables or figures) without obtaining permission provided that

  • the purpose of the use is scholarly comment, noncommercial research, or educational use and
  • full credit is given to the author and publisher as copyright holder.

For example, APA allows you to reproduce without obtaining permission

  • up to three tables or figures from a journal article or book chapter or
  • a maximum of five tables or figures from a whole book.

Note that all publishers have their own policies, so you should check with the publisher of your material to determine whether permission is necessary. For materials published by APA, visit the APA Permissions Office.

B. Commercial Stock Photography

To reproduce a stock photo you will most likely have to buy a license from its stock photography website (e.g., ShutterStock, iStock, Getty Images, Corbis). Consult the terms of the image to know what steps to take.

  • If you do own the license to a stock photograph, you can use the image in the paper without any attribution or credit line.
  • If you do not own the license to a stock photograph, you cannot reproduce the image.

Note that you might come across a stock photo “in the wild”—for example, as part of a newspaper or magazine article (the images on this blog fall into this category too). That means that the publisher has bought a license for the stock photograph. If you want to use the photograph in your paper too, you need to go buy your own license for the photo.

C. Clip Art

Most clip art does not require permission to reproduce, but it may require a credit line. Check the terms of the clip art website to determine what to do.

  • If the clip art comes from a program like Microsoft Word, then by buying the program you have bought a license to that clip art and can use it in an academic paper without any attribution or credit line.
  • If the clip art comes from a free clip art website (e.g., Openclipart) and it has a creative commons license or is in public domain, permission is not necessary but you should give a copyright statement for the image (see Part 4 of this series).

D. Fair Use for Other Copyrighted Sources

You may also be able to avoid seeking permission to reproduce a copyrighted image if your use is considered “fair.” Fair use is a loosely defined and complicated legal concept (here is a summary from the U.S. Copyright Office), but in practice it means that under certain circumstances you can reproduce or adapt a copyrighted image without obtaining permission so long as you credit the source (see Part 4 of this series).

In the context of reproducing an image, your use is probably fair if it meets the following criteria:

  • It is for use in an academic work and not for profit (such as a paper for a class or publication in an academic journal).
  • It represents facts or data (such as a chart or diagram) rather than creative self-expression (such as artwork, although some famous works of art are in the public domain and thus do not require permission).
  • It is small in relation to the whole work (such as a chart within a report) and not the whole thing or the “heart” of the work (such as an individual photograph or a whole cartoon).
  • Reproducing the image will not hurt the market or potential market for the original.

If you fail to meet the above criteria for fair use or if you are unsure as to whether you meet the criteria, exercise caution and seek permission to reproduce the image. For more help in determining fair use, check out this Fair Use Checklist from Columbia University.

Unclear Copyright

If the copyright status of the image is unclear, assume that it is copyrighted. Contact the publisher of the image for more information if needed. If the origin of the image cannot be determined (e.g., it appears in many places on the internet without attribution and it is impossible to say where exactly it originated), we recommend that you choose an alternative image for your paper. Be particularly careful of stock photographs, which legally can be reproduced without attribution, but only by a license holder. 

 

Continue to Part 3: Securing Permission

Continue to Part 4: Writing the Copyright Statement

January 21, 2016

Navigating Copyright for Reproduced Images: Part 1. Understanding Copyright Status

Chelsea blog 2 by Chelsea Lee

This post is part of a series on how to cite an image reproduced from another source in APA Style. 

The first step in navigating copyright for reproduced images in APA Style is to understand the copyright status of the image you want to reproduce.

You may be surprised to learn that just because you found something on the Internet or read it in a book does not mean that you are entitled to reproduce it for free in a paper. In fact, U.S. copyright law states that whomever owns the copyright to an image has the right to say how it is used.

Crumpled-Copyright-1200

To determine whether you are allowed to reproduce an image, look for the copyright on the work. Here are some examples of copyright statements you might see:

  • Regular copyright or “all rights reserved” copyright
    • This kind of copyright is indicated by the word copyright or the copyright symbol.
    • Examples: Copyright 2015 by the American Psychological Association. © 2014 Elizabeth T. Jones, all rights reserved.
    • To reproduce a copyrighted image, you have to get permission in writing from the copyright holder first, unless you meet one of the exceptions described in Part 2 of this series. You also have to give full credit to the copyright holder in the form of a copyright statement in your paper (see Part 4 of this series for the format).

  • Creative commons copyright
    • Creative commons licenses are indicated by the words creative commons or CC.
    • In general, creative commons licenses allow you to reproduce and/or adapt a work (including images) without getting permission from the copyright holder, so long as you give credit to the original author in the form of a copyright statement (see Part 4 of this series).
    • The specific terms of creative commons licenses vary, so check the license associated with your image to determine what you are allowed to do.

  • Public domain
    • Works that are not bound by copyright are considered in the public domain. This means you can reproduce them and/or adapt them however you want, so long as you credit the original author in the form of a copyright statement (see Part 4 of this series).
    • Assume a work is under copyright unless you see the words public domain on it or the work was produced by the U.S. Government (in which case it is automatically in the public domain). Copyright does expire, but that can take a long time.

  • No copyright indicated
    • If no copyright is indicated, treat the work as copyrighted.
    • U.S. copyright law states that a work is copyrighted as soon as it is fixed in tangible form (e.g., you can see it on a computer screen or on paper), even if the work doesn’t say copyright or have the copyright symbol, and even if it is not mass produced or professionally published. For example, you automatically own the copyright to papers you write for a class.

 

Continue to Part 2: Determining Whether Permission Is Needed

Continue to Part 3: Securing Permission

Continue to Part 4: Writing the Copyright Statement

 

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