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Open Educational Resources (OER)

Attribution Basics

What is attribution?

Just as you cite and provide references in your scholarship, attribution acknowledges the original creator. Each Creative Commons license requires attribution (CC BY), so that original authorship is given every time the work is used. 




The attribution for the image above is: "Nymphaea tetragona (Water Lily)" by EvaK is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5. Browse examples of attribution and best practices.  


Tools to help you attribute


Be sure to add an attribution:

  • When adding an image to your OER Course Site (For example, a course site on the OpenLab). 

  • When creating a course text that you are going to distribute under an open license 

  • When adopting OER materials, and changing or "re-mixing" the content. 

Importance of attribution

When you attribute the author you ensure:

  • The intellectual property rights of the author are preserved (all CC BY licenses require you to cite the author to be in compliance with the license...emphasis on the BY!)

  • The provenance of the work is documented - this is fundamental to tracing the authority and relevancy of your course materials

  • Clear indication of exactly how the resource can be shared or customized based on the provisions of the CC license (for ex., Does the license allow commercial or non-commercial use?)

  • Any non-OER materials can be distinguished from CC licensed materials (Non-OERs might be library subscribed material or newspaper articles) so as not to confuse or misrepresent information to potential adopters

Practical Tips

‚ÄčWhat content is OK to post on a course site? 

Materials can be posted on the OpenLab or another content management system if:

  • The copyright holder of the material grants permission (via a Creative Commons license or written consent) or you are the copyright holder of the material

  • The material is made available by linking to a version made publicly accessible from the copyright holder

  • The material is in the public domain

From Columbia's Copyright Advisory Office


What if a work has no license displayed on it? 


When in doubt, link out! 

  • If a material is freely available online (but is not public domain or CC licensed), always provide a link to that material to avoid copyright violation.

  • Using library resources? Generate durable links to them!