When and how should I use the resources I find?
Before you use a website for an assignment, test for CRAAP. (Based on the CRAAP Test from the Meriam Library at California State University, Chico)
- Currency: Is the info up-to-date?
- Relevance: Is this the right info for your needs?
- Authority: What’s the source of the info?
- Accuracy: Is it reliable, truthful, and correct?
- Purpose: Why does this info exist?
Citing your sources is one aspect of using information ethically. When you cite a source, you give credit to the people on whose work you are building and you make it possible to trace ideas to their sources. You also add credibility to your own work by demonstrating that you have done your research, based your conclusions on reliable information, and engaged in the traditions of academic research.
Resources and tutorials for citing sources and using NoodleTools for citation and research management are available on the Citation Help tab, or visit the library with any questions.
Fair Use vs. Copyright Infringement
Another aspect of ethical information use is avoiding copyright infringement. Using works that are not under copyright, either because they are in the public domain or because the creator of the work has chosen to license their work in a way that allows use or remixing, is generally ethical, provided that you abide by the creator's guidelines for use. Using works that are copyrighted is trickier. When copyrighted works are used in education, news reporting, parody, or criticism, this use can be defended under certain circumstances. For more, check out these resources. (For the fun version of how fair use works, skip to the bottom of this list and watch "A Fair(y) Use Tale.")
- United States Copyright Office: Get your information on copyright from the source.
- Copyright and Fair Use (from the Stanford University Libraries): A great resource for definitions and best practices.
- Columbia University's Copyright Advisory Office: Check the way you intend to use a piece of copyrighted work against the criteria of fair use.
- Fair Use Checklist (from ReadWriteThink): Weigh your use of a resource in terms of how your use measures up with criteria for fair use and criteria for copyright infringement.
- Creative Commons Search: A Creative Commons license is an example of "copyleft." Rather than creating works under copyright, a creator can instead opt to allow certain uses of their works. This search locates works that have been licensed under Creative Commons to help you find images, music, and video that you are allowed to use according to the work's license.
- A Fair(y) Use Tale: This video, which strings together brief clips from Disney films to explain U.S. copyright law, is an example of every aspect of fair use doctrine in action.