Citing Multimedia in Projects and Presentations

The in-text citation process in writing has been very streamlined for a while now with clear styles and expectations coming from the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA). Other forms like footnoting have been around for a long time, as well, even though it’s not used as commonly any more. Schools typically require one of these styles to be used in research writing and the style is often assessed as part of the writing process.

Due to the easy access of it now on the Internet, students are being required to use more and more multimedia in their work and class projects. Many of these projects are being created on or being published to the web via wikis, blogs, YouTube, and other Web 2.0 tools. Students need to show clear attribution to any media used in these projects or presentations in the same way they cite text sources in writing, but it isn’t always happening. In the same way consistent styles for text-based research citation and attribution have been created, a consistent way of citing or attributing multimedia is needed. This is also the case for images used during formal presentations given both in-class and to larger communities.

Both MLA and APA provide styles for full source citations that get listed in a final works cited/bibliography list. Either of these formats can still be used on a sources page in a project or end slide of a presentation. But, what about the immediate attribution that appears on or next to the image, video, or in-line audio within a project or presentation? I haven’t seen or heard of a consistent way of doing this, but here are few possibilities.

1. Just use a traditional MLA or APA style parenthetical citation with the creator’s last name/username or title of the work (if no creator name is given). If the media is presented in an online published project, the student (or teacher) could hyperlink the citation to its original location, then have the full source citation at the end of the project. Alternatively, they could provide the full source citation near the image as seen below. This takes up a little more space, but all the attribution information is there immediately for the viewer.

From a project published to a wiki

If it’s a presentation, then just putting the MLA or APA style parenthetical citation on each image or next to an embedded video with the creator’s last name or the title of the image if no creator is given would be the process.

From a formal presentation

2. Another option is to put the full or shortened URL on or next to the media whether it’s a presentation or an online published project. An additional element as you can see in this example is the acknowledgement of the Creative Commons licensed nature of the image, which is important to show that the image is legally reusable.

From a conference presentation

3. A slight expansion on #1 above would be to use a consistent attribution phrase like “Image by [name] on [website]” or “Image from [website]” if a person’s name is not given. This is the style I typically use and guide my students to use.

From an in-class presentation

I prefer this 3rd style since it’s a little cleaner and visually pleasing, especially in presentations. I don’t think any audience member is going to try to get to the image during a presentation. With that in mind, I think using the URL for attribution isn’t necessary in a presentation. In text-based research and writing, only putting a URL in a citation is not accepted in MLA and APA, so I guess I carry this over to the attribution of multimedia, also. A works/images/media cited page can be provided at the end of presentation that shows all detail, then the presenter can email or post online the full source list for any audience member that wants the links to the media.

In the end, as long as there is a consistent method used and required and the media used is Creative Commons licensed, royalty-free, or labeled for legal reuse, then an important digital citizenship skill is being taught. It can even be assessed if desired (see rubric example below). Having students create their own media instead of downloading it is even better as it improves and builds creative tendencies and ways of thinking. In those instances I tell students they don’t have to attribute themselves unless they want.

Responsible Digital CitizenshipStudents advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology The student took great care to ensure all images, video, and other multimedia were original, had a Creative Commons license, and/or labeled for legal reuse. Attribution was given to all of the authors of any artistic element used and all were clearly and correctly cited with Internet-based sources hyperlinked. A complete and correctly formatted works cited was included at the end of the product. The student took care to ensure almost all images, video, and other multimedia were original, had a creative commons license, and/or labeled for legal reuse. Attribution was given to most of the authors of any artistic element used and most were cited with Internet-based sources hyperlinked. A complete and mostly correct works cited was included at the end of the product. The students may have used an image, video, and/or other multimedia that was protected under copyright, but it was cited. Attribution was given to a few of the authors of any artistic element used and/or there were gross errors in citations. Some Internet-based sources were not hyperlinked. A works cited was included, but contained many errors in format. There was blatant infringement of copyright by inserting downloaded images, video, and/or other multimedia from the internet that was not licensed for reuse. No attribution is given. No Internet-based sources are hyperlinked. No works cited is included.

If you have any other approaches or suggestions about this issue, I would love to hear them.

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About togalearning

Technology Learning Coach, High School Social Studies and online IB Psychology teacher

Posted on April 11, 2012, in Education, Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. David Redmond

    Thanks Thomas — pretty useful for me as an IBDP coordinator and supervisor of student research and presentation projects.
    David Redmond
    IBDP Coordinator
    ICS Addis Ababa

  2. As a college student, I am required to write many papers and finish projects that include different types of multimedia. It is important to me to know how to properly use and cite these sources to avoid any plagiarism issues. I found this blog very helpful for choosing which style of citation to use for my different projects.

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