Answered By: Michael Pujals
Last Updated: Dec 05, 2019     Views: 2

Hello Olivia,

It's copyright, so the answer is a little complicated.

Yes, generally, if students are reusing OR reusing and modifying tables, charts or graphs from a publication then they should get in the good habit of getting permission from the copyright holder. 

That said it depends what they are going to do with their finished assignment. Are they just turning it in to you? Is the paper going into their ePortfolio? Are they posting it to Dominican Scholar? Is it going on a publicly viewable website for a class project?

If the paper is going to publicly visible then, yes, they really do need to get permission. If they are turning in a paper to the instructor for an assignment and that's it, they should probably get in the good habit of asking for permission and learn to reuse other people's work ethically, but it's my opinion that publishers are most concerned about republication of materials rather than a paper that will end up on your shelf.

One could probably also make a case for Fair Use of materials but I always suggest asking for permission first and there are things one could do to make a better case for Fair Use if that's the route one wants to take. 

Getting Permission

The first step in getting permission is identifying the copyright owner. 

If the article is published as an open access and is under a Creative Commons license then there should be no problem, permission reuse has already been given by the copyright holder. The students will still need to give a proper attribution to the authors.

More often, it's the case that the journal or the journal publisher is the copyright owner. Most journals have a section on their website describing Rights and Permissions for reuse of their materials. This section should describe how materials from their publications can be reused. They may also may direct you to the Copyright Clearance Center's Rightslink where one can describe what they want to do with the item and get permission for that specific use.


Cost varies from publisher to publisher and on the intended use.

Again, if it's open access and under a Creative Commons license, there shouldn't be any cost. For academic papers I've rarely seen any associated costs. Again it depends on how the paper the is going to be used. Is going to straight to the instructor and nothing beyond that or is it going to publicly available.

TurnitIn and Citing Figures in APA

I don't know what Turnitin is looking at in regard to originality, but I'm guessing that it's focused on text rather than images.

According to the APA manual, even with permission to reuse an item like this, they need to note it in their figure caption... "reused with permission from XXX" OR "reused and modified with permission from XXX."

The Bottom Line

  • Students should get in the habit of seeking out permission; it's part of the information literacy to teach the students about copyright and how to ethically use other people's work.
  • Needed permissions are going to vary from publisher to publisher as are associated costs depending on the end use of the product

Does this help Olivia, or did I make it more confusing? I'm always happy to help students (and Faculty!) navigate this process.