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Give Credit Where Credit is Due: Online Resources

Online Resources

Online Documents

On the web site Blog Herald, Jonathon Bailey offers The 20 Best Free Anti-Plagiarism Tools. He calls technology a double-edged sword; while the Internet has made plagiarism easier, it has also made detecting plagiarism easier. And of course, plagiarism and copyright rules apply to electronic as well as printed material. Just because something is online does not mean it is free for the taking.

1.      Citing Sources

The electronic availability of information resources makes it easy to copy and paste blocks of text, and equally easy to plagiarize, whether intentionally or unintentionally. To save yourself from this mistake, carefully note the sources of information you collect. When doing research using electronic documents, there are tools to help:

  • Many literature databases allow you to print, email, or save citations to a storage device, and even automatically format them in APA style. In EBSCO databases, for example, item records include a Cite  icon that provides a reference formatted in various styles. 
  • Bibliographic management software, such as RefWorks and EndNote, are sophisticated programs that organize citations from literature searches and simplify record-keeping. Free programs, such as Zotero and EasyBib, are starting to become available too.
  • Web browsers allow you to save web pages in a Bookmarks or Favorites folder for future retrieval.

2.     Persistent Links

Some professors require the addition of hyperlinks to electronic resources that are cited in class papers, so that they can check your sources. These are called “persistent links” and are included in the full records of items retrieved through database searches.

a.      In EBSCO databases such as PsycINFO, toward the bottom of the record will appear a URL labeled Persistent link to the record (Permalink), which can be pasted into Word documents. These links “point to” or lead the reader to the source record and/or full-text of a journal article.

b.      EBSCO databases have started adding a DOI to citations formatted in APA style. This is an acronym for Digital Object Identifier (, a string of numbers that serves as a permanent address for an electronic resource. When DOIs are included, the database name and item URL are not needed in the citation. For example: Chou, C., Chan, P., & Wu, H. (2007, November). Using a two-tier test to assess students' understanding and alternative conceptions of cyber copyright laws. British Journal of Educational Technology, 38(6), 1072-1084. Retrieved July 28, 2008, doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2006.00695.x

c.       In the Alliant Library’s Classic catalog, each item record includes a link labeled Persistent link to the title, which provides URLs that can be pasted into documents and point to the item records. See References section below for examples.


3.     Images

Copyright and plagiarism rules apply to images as well as text. Legal use depends on the image’s owner, so check copyright statements. There are online sources of free images and clip art which allow their use for educational, noncommercial or personal purposes as long as the source is credited. For more info, see the web site Top Ten Reviews for Clip Art—When It’s Illegal

  •  Google Images

Google claims to be the largest source on the Web, indexing and providing billions of images. You can customize your search with the Advanced Search option. Use images if you can cite the original image from the original webpage or if you have permission.

  •  American Memory

Gateway to the Library of Congress’ vast collection of digitized historical images. Over 9 million items that document U.S. history and culture are organized into over 100 categories. See the Legal link for permissions information.

       In addition to free sources, there are web sites where you can purchase images:

  • Published (commercial) clip art

If you are not sure where an image came from, contact the webmaster of the site to learn the original source and to find out if it is available for commercial use.

  •  Royalty-free clip art and stock images

Stock images are photos or full-page color illustrations. Some web sites serve as outlets for photographers and artists, and sell the right to their use for a small fee.