Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Citing sources: Citing OER

When and how to cite (and avoid accidental plagiarism!)

What's OER?

OER stands for "Open Educational Resources." OER, in essence, then are freely available, openly licensed resources -- textbooks, media, videos, articles, and more -- that are useful for teaching, learning, and research. Faculty who use OER in their courses are using freely available, high-quality educational resources in order to bring textbook costs down for students. Students can use OER for assignments, as well, such as using openly licensed images, videos, and/or sound effects for presentations. 

And if you use OER, then you need to know how to cite OER!

Want more info about OER?

What "citing" is called for OER

Citing openly licensed materials, whether they're images or videos or textbooks, is often referred to as "attribution" in the OER world. To "attribute" something, you are giving credit. It's the same idea as "citing" -- just a different term for it. 

Citing = Attributing
Citation = Attribution

You can cite or attribute openly licensed materials in different ways. I will outline the two main methods below. Remember to always doublecheck with your instructors about which citation method(s) they prefer.

Cite OER using the TAL method

TAL method

The basic format for attributing OER using the TAL method is:

Title -- Author -- License

In other words:

  • T = Title
  • A = Author
  • L = License (i.e. open license)

You can use this method for citing any type of OER, including textbooks, images, videos, and more.

Use Open Attribution Builder form to create a TAL citation for OER

This "open attribution builder" online form was created by Open Washington, and you can use it to create any kind of openly licensed material according to the TAL method described above.

Note that there are additional fields in the form, as seen below, but you only need to put in the info that's applicable to your source. There are also little question marks that provide additional info about each field.

Basic form for the Open Attribution Builder

Cite OER using a regular citation style

Using a regular citation and adding the CC license info

If your instructor prefers that you cite your sources using a regular citation style, like APA or MLA, then you just simply add the CC or public domain license info at the end of your regular citation.

Let's do an example for an image that I want to cite in MLA style (8th ed.).


First step, create a regular citation:

First, you will need to cite the image, video, etc. like you normally would in MLA citation style.


Photo iconBasic formula for citing IMAGES in MLA style:
Owner/author/creator. “Title of Image.” Title of Website, Publisher (if applicable), Publication date, URL.

Example of citing an IMAGE in MLA style:
Claypool, Robert. “Flamingo.” Flickr, 5 Oct. 2012, flic.kr/p/dh7axD.

Second step, add the license info at the end:

The next step is to ADD the license information at the end of the regular citation. So this is where you need to pay attention to the license that comes with each image or video you choose to use -- that's where knowing those symbols, like the CC BY SA, come in handy! You can either use the acronyms (like CC BY SA), or the text versions of the license (like CC Attribution - Share Alike, which is the text version of CC BY SA).

Notes:

  • For images or videos, etc., that are in the public domain, just add "Public Domain" as the license.
  • For resources that are allowed for educational use -- like Khan Academy videos, just add a phrase like "Educational use allowed" in place of the license info.

Example of adding license information for an IMAGE for the complete citation:
Claypool, Robert. “Flamingo.” Flickr, 5 Oct. 2012, flic.kr/p/dh7axD. CC BY 2.0.

Need more citation examples?


Image sources:

  • "Photo icon" by IO-Images, Pixabay, is licensed under CC0 (public domain).

CC BY SA license

Except where otherwise noted, the content in these guides by Tacoma Community College Library is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0.
This openly licensed content allows others to cite, share, or modify this content, with credit to TCC Library. When reusing or adapting this content, include this statement in the new document: This content was originally created by Tacoma Community College Library and shared with a CC BY SA 4.0 license.

Tacoma Community College Library - Building 7, 6501 South 19th Street, Tacoma, WA 98466 - P. 253.566.5087