Skip to Main Content
library logo

Ask us!

Creative Commons & Openly Licensed Content

This guide provides resources for finding content that is creative commons, public domain, or otherwise openly licensed.

What's the difference between citation and attribution?

Works that are under copyright require citation. Works under a Creative Commons license require attribution. There are slight differences described by the table here. Works in the Public Domain do not require either attribution or citation. 

When in doubt, assume a work is under copyright and follow the citation guidelines.

Citation vs. Attribution


Academic and formal method of crediting the work of another that your work uses or references Fulfills the legal requirements of a Creative Commons license and gives credit to the creator of a work you use, share or modify
Enables a content creator to refer to copyrighted works in their own new work in a limited way. Author of an open work has given advanced permissions for other content creators to use their work for free.
A reference list of cited resources are typically placed at the end of the completed work (book, article, project). Attribution statements are found on the same page where they are used.
The rights to use the content (meaning copyright) are NOT shared with the general public by the copyright holder. Copyright IS shared with the general public by the copyright holder by marking the work with an open-copyright license.
Used to quote or paraphrase a limited portion of a restricted work. Used to quote (or paraphrase) all or a portion of an openly licensed work.
Can paraphrase, but cannot change work without permission. Author has give advanced permission to change work.
Many citation styles are available: APA, Chicago, MLA. Attribution statement styles are still emerging, but there are some Fdefined best practices.

For example:

article doi under copyright, All rights reserved

For example:

article doi, under a creative commons license, open access

Citation vs. Attribution table is adapted from Lauri M. Aesoph's Self Publishing Guide, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License