Why cite? Intellectual property

Citing is a way to appreciate an author of a thought or processed information in an article, blog post or book. We call the results of thought and creativity intellectual property, and it is protected by copyright. How and why should we abide to it?  


We’re writing a seminar paper or article and we’ve read some articles and books for it by various authors. Their work, which they’ve put their time, energy and a “piece of themselves” into in the form of an original contribution of authorship has inspired us so much that it’s reflected in our own work. In the context of intellectual property, we aren’t appreciating the work of an author by buying a book. We do so by properly citing them and referring readers to them in our own text.  

Here is an example of citing an author in a text who has helped me define personal learning environments:  

A Personal Learning Environment can be understood as a technology, tools of the web 2.0 and social media that give a person support in directing their own learning (Haworth, 2016).  

In the bibliography:  

HAWORTH, Ryan, 2016. Personal Learning Environments: A Solution for Self-Directed Learners. TechTrends [online]. 60(4), 359-364 [cit. 2017-01-15]. DOI: 10.1007/s11528-016-0074-z. ISSN 87563894. Available at: http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s11528-016-0074-z 

Others should behave in the same way to our creations, thus giving rise to the principle of a mutually fair approach. If one party violates this, we should object and look into so-called “plagiarism”.  

The importance of the researcher 

Citations can also carry another significance for authors. If we’re talking about citing an article or book by an academician who works at a university, for example, citations can be important in terms of his or her professional growth and credibility. Citations made by other authors arecounted – each and every one. You can find a rough number of citations of an author for example onGoogle Scholar if authors have a profile set up there. 

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Profil autorky textu na Google Scholar. Zdroj: Google Scholar - Hana Tulinská. Autor screenshotu: KISK.

Website traffic 

If we’re dealing with websites instead of texts written by academic staff in journals or books, citing the original source is allowed via website visits. This can be reflected in statistics about website traffic and readership. Firstly, this means that you as the author know that people are reading your work. Secondly, if the platform uses algorithms, larger readership can mean a higher degree of recommendation to readers of the platform. Thirdly, if there is a certain monetization system on a blog or website, this can have a financial impact. Contributors on websites can also benefit from ads.    

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Statistika návštěvnosti profilu autory na publikační platformě Medium. Zdroj: Medium - Stats Hana Tulinská. Autor screenshotu: KISK.

Communication in the scientific community and sharing  

Last but not least, citing and references are important in the scientific community. A large portion of creative work is the search for sources of information. When authors use citations in their work, they help us reach other sources and authors. If someone wants to cite you, you’ll find out – you can either simply Google yourself or use a Google Scholar profile that collects this information.  

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