How do I know which sources to cite for a book I'm writing?
February 10, 2011 2:50 AM   Subscribe

I’m in the process of writing an English education book, and I’m going to be using a lot of information: maps, lists, etc. I need to know how I should cite my sources.

For example, in my chapter on health, I’d like to include some information on obesity rates worldwide, and how much cosmetic surgery costs for each procedure- do I have to site this? If I use a website, do I have to ask for permission? Also, I’ll include a list of cans and cannots for the vegan diet – to my understanding, this would fall into a “common knowledge” category, and needs no citation- correct? I won’t be using direct quotes.
One condition: it will be sold in Korea. I’m thinking copyright laws would be slightly more flexible. Other similar books I’ve seen (from publishers such as Cambridge, etc.) have just a small citation under the information reading “Source: BlahBlah magazine.” or “Source:” Is that legit? Also, what about pictures? Are some public access, and if so, are they “up for grabs?”
posted by eggrollover to Writing & Language (5 answers total)
If you are reprinting diagrams, maps, etc, you need to get permission from the original publisher, e.g. the magazine or website owner. They will almost certainly ask you to cite them in the text too (as you say, a short line underneath the map/diagram whatever is common.) If you are using information in the text, but it is not a separate image or figure, then academic practice would be to cite the original provider of the information using the appropriate academic style for your publisher. If your book is a popular nonfiction book or textbook, conventions may differ. This is again something you should run past your publisher. (You do have a publisher, right?)

Copyright laws may well be less well enforced in Korea and it will be your publisher's decision as to whether or not to take risks about this. The laws themselves are not more flexible, since copyright is something owned by the original producer of the original publication, so it will be the laws of that country that will apply, not of Korea.
posted by lollusc at 3:32 AM on February 10, 2011

If the book is just going to be published in Korea, it's probably mostly Korean copyright laws that will be relevant. According to this WIPO site the RoK only acceded to the Berne Convention in 1996 and its laws may be subtly different from those of other countries. I doubt you'll be able to get much useful advice on Korean copyright law from Ask Metafilter. I have been surprised before, but I'd think hiring a Korean IP lawyer would be a basic expense for publishing a book which collates material in the way you're suggesting. The same goes for any other jurisdiction the book will be published in.

As for the form of citation: buy a style guide and use it consistently. And the "source: etc." citations you see may well be reproductions with permission from the copyright owner.

of course, if by "Korea" you mean "North Korea" copyright law is probably the least of your worries
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:51 AM on February 10, 2011

In a Korean publication you will need permission to use copyrighted materials.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:56 AM on February 10, 2011

Also, I’ll include a list of cans and cannots for the vegan diet – to my understanding, this would fall into a “common knowledge” category, and needs no citation- correct?

That depends. If you're using a list that you found somewhere, or basing your dos/don'ts on lists you've found elsewhere, it's common courtesy to your readers to let them know where you found this information; depending on how you use it, you may not be required by law to ask for reprint permission. Keep in mind that there are disagreements among vegans about things like honey - some will eat it, some will not; some wear leather (acquired used, at least), some will not.

The format of any citation should be such that your readers would be able to find the original without much trouble. If you're using a URL, the standard is also to add the date on which you accessed the information. If you're using a printed publication, it should include the name of the publication, the name of the article within the publication, the author's name, the date of the publication, and the volume and issue number, if applicable. A lot of this will depend on your publisher's house style, as will the formatting of the citation.

I handle reprint permissions for my organization, but IANAn your reprint permissions specialist.
posted by rtha at 6:25 AM on February 10, 2011

Citations aren't only about satisfying the source's rights and interests. They also give you credibility and information to the reader who wants more information.
posted by vitabellosi at 8:44 AM on February 10, 2011

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