Top tips

Know about copyright

Learn how to cite and reference resources

Be careful about re-posting other people's work on social media sites or blogs

When you are using other people’s work, it is important for you to be aware of copyright and plagiarism.

Material can appear freely available, especially on the Internet. Everything appears to be there for your use, but you need to be careful! Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

What is copyright?

Copyright is an automatic right given to authors and other creators to enable them to control who may copy and redistribute their work. As a result, only the copyright holder may copy a work unless a copyright exception says otherwise, or you have the copyright holder's written permission. For published works the copyright holder is normally the publisher, not the author, as, during the publication process, the author transfers many of their copyright rights. It is important to respect copyright as this is how authors and other creators are rewarded for their creativity.

How copyright protects your work

Luckily there is an exception that allows you to quote from other people's work on the condition that you cite and reference. A quote is a short extract used as part of an argument in an essay or assignment.

To use larger amounts of someone else’s work under UK Copyright law, you must be using it for the purpose of criticism or review. For more guidance on using other people's work see Copyright for students.

For electronic materials, such as e-journals, e-books and websites check the licence or terms and conditions. Look out for materials licensed under a Creative Commons licence as these can easily be copied and reused.

Why do I need to know about it?

Sharing and repurposing information is a major part of most students' daily lives so be sure you understand how to use information ethically and safely. this is also a skill that you can take with you into the workplace. Poor information handling skills can cost an organisation its reputation and money, as we often see in the press.

Copyright and licensing knowledge is empowering. It helps you to consider your rights when publishing your own work or uploading content to social media sites. Understanding the implications of posting your images etc. can be very important.

Sometimes people see a copyright notice and panic. It can be worth contacting the person who holds the rights - they may give you permission to re-use something. Make sure you keep the permission document somewhere safe.   


Once you are happy that you are able to use the information and are not going to breach copyright, you must make sure that you properly attribute any work that is not your own. Referencing and citing is part of ensuring your academic integrity. Make sure that you are familiar with plagiarism and how to cite and reference the resources used in your assignment.