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StMU Research Scholars projects

general guide for students in classes that participate in the StMU Research Scholars project

What does Public Domain and Creative Commons mean?

Public Domain

"A work of authorship is in the “public domain” if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner." (US Copyright Office)

Many US federal documents and images are not covered by copyright and are in the public domain.  There are other public domain sources from international sources, libraries, museums, and other sources. 

Creative Commons (CC)

Citing Images

You will need some basic information to cite images that you find.  A free or public domain images also needs to be cited.  

You should note the following information if possible:

  • Title of work
  • Creator's name
  • Artwork size 
  • Date created
  • Archive, library, museum, repository, owner
  • URL (if available)
  • Rights 

I encourage you to use Zotero to save information about images you find. Most likely, you will use the "Artwork" category for these images.

Image Collections with Public Domain and Creative Commons content

List of large image collections.  Many of these collections include public domain or Creative Commons license images.  However, for each image you use, check the copyright information provided by the organization and/or website. You will always need to cite your sources whether they are under copyright or not.

Biological and Medical Images



Descriptive Article Project Proposal - Images