Laurance S. Rockefeller Library logo

Quotations, Citations & Copyright

Q? Why do I have to go through all this extra work for a dissertation or thesis? Isn't this like any standard student paper?
A: No, because it's a different end result. When you write for a class assignment, this falls under the "educational use" exemptions to copyright laws and regulations. However, when CIIS sends your finished dissertation off, ProQuest UMI publishes - and sells - multiple copies of your work, so this becomes a commercial activity and is no longer exempt.
Q? What format do I use for citations and references?
A: There are four citation styles in use at CIIS - American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA), the Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Anthropological Association's format. While any of these is acceptable, your program may require a specific one; check with your committee or Program Assistant.
Q? What should I include in the list of references at the end of my thesis / dissertation? And what do I call this?
A: Unless you are consciously doing something different (and have cleared this with your committee in advance!), the References section at the end of your thesis / dissertation should include only those works that you mention in your text. That is, if you read So-and-so's classic book but you don't quote or cite it in your writing, don't list it in your References. Conversely, every work you mention in your text should be listed in your References. (And yes, you label that section References, and not bibliography.)
Q? How do I cite a Web page?
A: This may require some detective work, and you may need to back up a level or two to find all the necessary details. In general, if the Web page's content is described as the electronic equivalent of a journal article (an e-journal) or the electronic equivalent to a book chapter or research paper, then follow the usual format for a journal article or book chapter or paper but add the extra Internet resource information (see next paragraph). If it is not analogous to a print work, then you need to list the author, date, and title. Take a close look at the specific Web page to see if you can identify an author - if not one person, then the organization that takes "corporate authority" for the content, the author-equivalent. Also look closely to see if there is a "last updated on..." or other date. The title is usually the Web page header.
Reference citations to Internet resources should all include a separate sentence that states both: a) the URL and b) the date you last looked at it. APA and MLA formats vary the specific wording for this sentence, but both require the same information.
Be sure that someone could type the URL you list into a Web browser and come up with that same Web page -- if you found the site through a search engine, your URL might not work when typed directly in an address line. The reason to list the date you accessed it is that webpages come and go; this clue might help future researchers find the same content in a Web page archive if it is no longer at that address.
Q? What about citing journals?
A: In almost every case you will be citing specific articles in a journal, and not the entire issue. So use the appropriate article format depending on which style you are using, and don't cite the journal by itself.
Q? Do I make separate Reference lists for different media - one for printed works, one for Web pages, another for audio- or videotapes?
A: No - include these all in the same one Reference list. Arrange items alphabetically by the author's last name. When you have more than one work by the same author, check your format (APA, MLA) on how to arrange within that author's listing.
Q? I've heard that I need to get permission for each single quote, if I want to avoid a lawsuit. Is this correct?
A: It's not quite that bad! You can certainly quote someone else's words in your dissertation (with proper citation); in fact, it's expected that you will. For more details, please read Kenneth Crews' explanation of the current copyright regulations as they apply to dissertations
Q? What should I do if I'm quoting a long passage?
A: If it is more than four sentences, or roughly more than 30 words, you can use a block quote format. Indent the quotation five spaces (or one Tab stop) from the left margin and from the right margin to set it off from your text, and single-space the quote. Be sure to give the proper citation at the end of the block quote. Use double line spaces between the block quote and the text above and below.
Q? What about quoting a poem? Or a song?
A: First, you need to consider copyright issues. Poems (and songs) are creative works, and reprint rights tend to be more restrictive than for other types of writing. If you quote - i.e., reprint - more than about one-third of a whole poem you will need to get written permission from the copyright holder to include this in your thesis or dissertation. It often doesn't matter how long the poem may be. If you're quoting only a small part of the poem, your citation should include the poet's name and the title of the poem as well as the source in which you found this.
Q? If I need to get a letter of permission to reprint something, should I just forget it?
A: Not at all! It's a simple process, and many authors / copyright holders are quite willing to give you permission to reproduce. Here is a sample letter to use as a model. This process does take time, though - don't make your life miserable by assuming that it can be done in a week or two, however. If you cannot figure out from whom to request permission (if you cannot tell who owns the copyright), ask the reference librarians for help.
Q? I use well-known quotations to introduce chapters in my dissertation. I only need to list the author, right?
A: Wrong. For your thesis or dissertation, you need to treat these quotes in exactly the same way as you handle other quotations. This means you need to document whether Plutarch really did say that or which sacred text states that the Buddha said that, who translated it into English, and where it appeared in print. Quotation dictionaries and encyclopedias can help to document - ask a reference librarian for assistance.
Q? I found a wonderful illustration that I want to copy for my thesis. How do I cite this?
A: First you have to get permission from the copyright holder before you can copy their work and republish it in your thesis or dissertation. This applies to any graphic image (even if you find it on the Internet). One exception is material published directly by a U.S. Government agency, but it can be tricky (check with a reference librarian). If you do get permission, that letter will state how to cite this source.
Q? I make reference to a couple of essays, all with different titles and different authors, that were collected in one book. How do I cite them, and what do I list in my References?
A: Check your style manual for the form to use for an essay in a collective work. In your References you should list each individual essay (generally as: [essay author], [essay title]. In [book author or editor(s), title and the rest of a reference to the book] [pages for that essay]). Don't make a separate listing for the whole book unless you refer to the whole book in your text, too. As for citations in your text, cite that essay's author and the essay title.
Q? I'm quoting author B, who in turn is quoting author A who writes "....". How should I do this?
A: In your text, use double quotes ( " ) to mark what author B writes. Within that, use single quotes ( ' ) where author B uses " to show what author A wrote. In your citation in the text, write: [author A's name], [the title of A's work where the quotation came from], as quoted in [a correct citation to author B's work]. If you are using APA format, just list author B's work in the References; if you are using any of the other CIIS-accepted formats, you will need to list both A and B – see the latest edition of that style manual for details.

For assistance, e-mail askref [at] ciis [dot] edu.

CIIS Library Home  Top of Page

Contact us with your
feedback: syslib [at] ciis [dot] edu
research questions: askref [at] ciis [dot] edu
November 6, 2013