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Open Educational Resources (OER): Attributing/Citing OER

Attributing/Citing OER

Providing attribution is a requirement of the licensing when using materials openly licensed with Creative Commons licenses.

To provide proper attribution include:

1. Title - the title is required of all licenses 3.0 and prior. While the title in optional for 4.0, it is still good practice to include the title when possible.

2. Author/Creator - give credit to the creator/author. If the creator wants to give credit to another entity, do as requested. The creator can also request his/her name be removed from a derivative.

3. Source - provide the URL link to the source.

4. License - provide the specific license and a link to the license deed. For printed material, spell the url address out so it can be located. If the original material comes with any copyright notice, include it in your attribution. If you modify the content or create a derivative, indicate this. If multiple sources are used, clearly indicate the sources and provide attribution for each. -See: Best practices for attribution.

The CC Wiki provides this example:

This is an ideal attribution

"Creative Commons 10th Birthday Celebration San Francisco" by tvol is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Title? "Creative Commons 10th Birthday Celebration San Francisco"

Author? "tvol" - linked to his profile page

Source? "Creative Commons 10th Birthday Celebration San Francisco" - linked to original Flickr page

License? "CC BY 2.0" - linked to license deed

-Material from "Best practices for attribution" by CC Wiki is licensed under CC BY 4.0

"There is no one right way, just make sure your attribution is reasonable and suited to the medium you're working with." -From: Don't make it too complicated.

There is flexibility in how to present the attribution as long as the required information is included.

Example variations:

Magnolia Warbler by Stan Lupo licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Magnolia Warbler at by Stan Lupo is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic  at

Magnolia Warbler by Stan Lupo   Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License.

Magnolia Warbler by Stan Lupo is licensed under  Creative Commons License

Try the Open Attribution Builder tool from Open Washington to help build and generate attributions.

Works-cited lists do not include copyright and licensing information. (See MLA blog.) One of the purposes "of listing references is to enable readers to retrieve and use the sources..." (APA Manual, p.180.) There is no style of formatting specific to OERs yet; however, using the formatting for a similar type of source or piecing one together from several should work. (See APA blog.) "Each entry usually contains the following elements: author, year of publication, title, and publishing data--all the information necessary for unique identification and library search." (APA Manual, p. 180.)

For example, an APA citation for an online OER textbook could look like this using these elements:

  • author
  • year of last update
  • title in italics plus edition
  • publisher
  • retrieval date
  • URL

Clark, M. A., Douglas, M., & Choi, J. (2020). Biology (2nd ed.). OpenStax. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from


Here is a citation example provided on the APA Style website of OER material on a webpage:

Fagan, J. (2019, March 25). Nursing clinical brain. OER Commons. Retrieved January 7, 2020, from


Example of an image in APA citation format:


                Photographer, F.M. (Photographer). (Year, Month Date of Publication). Title of Photograph [digital image]. Retrieved from URL


O’Shea, P. (Photographer). (2010, August 29). Rescued hedgehog [digital image]. Retrieved from

                             -Citing a photograph retrieved online by EasyBib is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Try the Citation Builder tool from NC State University Libraries to help build and generate a citation.