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Guide to Information Seeking: Using information ethically

Citations and plagiarism

Using citations is an essential part of academic writing. A text should always include citations to the printed or electronic resources that have been used as sources such as books, magazines or another student's research plan. Citations must be used:

  • If you use another person's text, ideas, research results, illustrations etc.
  • If you cite another person's text directly.
  • If you refer to another person's ideas and arguments by your own words.
  • If you present facts that are not common knowledge.

Using citations allows you to show what your own idea is and what you have cited form others. If your citations are marked unclearly, you are about to commit plagiarism. Plagiarism refers to copying another person's text, thoughts or ideas unauthorized. Plagiarism is usually unintended and can be avoided by practicing writing and citing skills.   

In Turku University of Applied Sciences assignments and theses undergo a plagiarism checking with the Urkund software.

Materials are protected by copyright

As a general rule, materials found on the web are protected by copyright. Copyright applies to text, photographs, videos and any kind of other materials. Copyright means that the author has sole right to decide how and where his work is used. Materials under copyright cannot be distributed, copied or altered without the author's permission. Even when you have permission from the author to use the work, you must give credit by stating the name of the original author. If you don't have permission, giving credit is not a way to evade the limitations set by copyright. Quoting a work is allowed without permission.

Copyright protects automatically all created works. The author can attach a copyright symbol © to the work, but copyright applies even if the symbol is not used. Copyright applies even when the author has made the work available for anyone, for example on social media. You cannot use for example the photos on Facebook or on blogs without permission.

There are some cases where copyright does not apply and these materials are free to use. These include:

  • acts, decrees and many other documents by authorities
  • works that do not meet the threshold of originality
  • old materials (copyright applies usually for 70 years after the author's death).

Creative Commons



What are Creative Commons licenses?

The creator can choose to define his/her own copyright. There are different systems for doing this, but Creative Commons licensing system is the most widely used one. With Creative Commons it is possible to waive all rights or give limited permission to use the work. There are four different conditions the creator can combine to define the copyrights:

 Attribution (BY) = Copying, distributing, displaying, performing and modifying of the work is allowed. Credit must be given to the creator.
 NonCommercial (NC) = Copying, distributing, displaying, performing and modifying the work is allowed. Commercial use of the work is forbidden.
 NoDerivates (ND) = Copying, distributing, displaying and performing of the original work is allowed. Modifying the work is forbidden.
 ShareAlike (SA) = Copying, distributing, displaying, performing and modifying the work is allowed with the same license as the original work.
 In addition to these licenses you can use CC0 "no rights reserved" license. By using this license the author waives all copyrights and anyone can use the work without any restrictions.

How do I find out which license applies?

The licenses are marked with CC + space + license abbreviation. If more than one license is used, the abbreviations are separated with a hyphen. For example: CC BY-A 4.0 means Attribution-ShareAlike. The number 4.0 refers to licence version.

The license is usually marked clearly with a symbol next to the image or at the bottom of a web page as a symbol, a combination of letters or written. By clicking the license you can read the summary that tells you clearly the terms and conditions that apply to the material in question. If you are interested in the legal code, the link to the code can be found in the summary page.

 If you can't find any indication of the CC license, the material probably isn't shared with a CC license. If you're not sure how you may use the material, don't use it, or ask the creator for permission.

How to use CC licensed materials?

If you use CC licensed material in your own work, please follow the terms and conditions defined in the license. You should always refer to

  • the creator's name
  • the license used to share the original work, and a link to the license
  • a reference / link to where the original work was published
  • modifications must include the name of the original author, the name of the modification's author, and an indication of what was modified (please check first if modifications are allowed in the license).

How to mark CC0 license

If the material is shared with the CC0 license, the creator has waived all the rights and handed the work to free common use. In principle this means that you don't need to state the name of the author or the license used.

Please note that if you use CC licensed materials in teaching or study materials, you always need to state the author and license used, even if the material is shared using the CC0 license.


Image: Kristina Alexanderson (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) Image: Marco Verch (CC BY 2.0)

Find materials under CC license

Materials licensed under Creative Commons can be found in different content and search services from the web. In this page, you can find services that include different materials free from copyrights or materials with some restrictions. Always remember to check the user rights of the service or material you are using.

Search open access content:

Stock photos licensed under CC: 

Publish your work under CC license

Utilize Creative Commons licenses to publish open access content. All you need to do is to mark your work with the CC license you have chosen. The easiest way to find the most suitable license is to use this CC license chooser. Choose the most suitable choices for you and the chooser will suggest which CC license you should use. Using CC licenses does not require any registration or other permit. Read more at

About this guide

This guide aims to support Turku UAS students and staff in searching information. It is a major part of the study material in the Information Skills Online Course.

About copyrights

Creative Commons (video)

Do you need help?

Contact Library at the Turku University of Applied Sciences by email

We are happy to help you!

Usage rights of the guide

Creative Commons -lisenssi
This publication has been licensed with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license