Skip to Main Content

Ethical Use of Sources and Writing

Chester Fritz Library tips on using sources

Strategies for Success

There are many common instances where students feel a wide variety of emotions when it comes to using sources.

Maybe the topic isn't as interesting as they would hope it to be, or they think the original author/expert has said it best. Maybe the text is at a higher level or perhaps they run out of time. These are all common hurdles that students and professionals experience when writing.

Sometimes people copy and paste because they either 1) ran out of time 2) don't understand the terminology or 3) aren't sure if they can adequately restate what an authority has already written.

Here are some strategies that help overcome these instances-

  1. Start early - Give yourself enough time to write. You probably hear this a lot. It does help. When you start early you can think critically about the text you're reading and use your own voice to expand on it.
    1. You can also use assignment calculators to help you prepare for how much time you will need to complete the assignment. Here are two examples of assignment calculators: University of Minnesota Assignment Calculator & University of Connecticut Assignment calculator

  2. Write looking away from the text - it may be tempting to write while you are looking at the reading assignment. One strategy you can use is to read the passage once, put it away and write based on what you remember, and then check for accuracy.
  3. Utilize campus resources - UND provides many resources on campus to help you be successful. Some key campus partners are: 
    1. The Chester Fritz Library
    2. UND Writing Center
    3. UND Learning Services

Writing Ethically

Brief Tips

  1. Paraphrase - Found information that is perfect for your research paper? To paraphrase that information, read it and put it into your own words but make sure to cite where you found that information. 
  2. Quoting - When quoting a source, use the quote exactly the way it appears. Quoting a source usually involves the name of the author, year of publication, and the page number. 
  3. Citing Your Own Material - If some of the material you are using for your research paper was used by you in your current class, a previous one, or anywhere else you must cite yourself. Treat the text the same as you would if someone else wrote it. It may sound odd, but using material you have used before is called self-plagiarism, and it is not acceptable.
  4. Accuracy - make sure to use source material the way it was intended rather than using passages out of context or "cherry picking" quotes solely to promote a point of view. Of course, fabricating material and ascribing to others is clearly unethical.

For more in-depth assistance on understanding and developing the writing process, make an appointment with UND's Writing Center.

Using Data Ethically

Data Ethics in Data Visualization

Data visualization can have a huge impact on how people understand important topics and make decisions. When creating data visualizations, it's essential to remember that data is not neutral and we have a responsibility to not create misleading charts & graphs and be transparent about where the data comes from and who collected it. 

Importance of Ethics in Visualization

Data Visualization Code of Ethics

Ethical Dimensions of Visualization Research

PolicyViz Podcast Episode on Data Ethics

Different Types of Materials

The American Chemical Society's Scholarly Communication guide has information on best practices for using previous graphics and data.

Finding Images 

There are a number of ways to access images for free from the internet. Please see the Open Access Sources to find images for free. Information is available here on how to find and use images from databases.

Citing & Ethical Use of Images 

General Advice: Keep it Legal 

Read the "fine print" to be sure how to use an image.

Good sources for "public use" images are Creative Commons and Compfight.  Read the fine print there too.

Remember that images from our subscription databases are meant for educational use on our campus:

  • Term papers
  • Classroom presentations
  • Avoid public use such as blogs, Facebook, etc. 

Find more information on the library's Open Educational Resources guide.

Cite Images in Papers

Database Image Citations - Ebsco image search APA Citation example:

  • Artist lastname, first initial. (Date of work). Title or caption. Publication Place: Retrieved date from database name
    • Hewitt, C. (1955). A Day With Salvador Dali. Spain: Retrieved April 5, 2017 from Ebsco image database

More advice from Ebsco on How to Cite Images in various citation format

Print Image Citation

  • Name of artist, Name of item in italics [Art Reproduction]. Name of Source in Italics Volume Number. (Publication Date):Issue Number.
    • Voulkos, Peter. Sculpture From A Stacked Clay Form [Art Reproduction]. Ceramics Monthly 35.(1987): 43.

If the item is not named you could describe it, such as Teapot [Art Reproduction]

Website Image Citations - should include as many of these elements as possible: 

  • Artist. Title of Work. Date of Work. Image Source. Database/Web Site. Date Accessed. URL (optional)

Cite Images in Presentations

Creative Commons Image Example


The image above is "later that day..." by  Paul Bica on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0

Many Creative Commons images can be used freely with attribution given to the author & source.  Here are more best practices

Creative Commons License 

Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to use, build upon and share. 

Good sources for "public use" images are Creative Commons and Compfight.  Read the fine print there too.

Please click here for more information on CC licenses. 

Many times internet searches yield grey literature such as conference proceedings, government reports, and theses or dissertations. Even though they appear to be websites, these sources can be cited as documents. Additionally, poster presentations you produce may be discovered and used by others, hence proper citation is needed. Here is more information on how to properly cite poster presentations from UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences.