Using and reusing sources

Whether you are compiling a reader or writing a thesis, if you work in an academic setting you will need to quote from sources and acknowledge them. Obviously, you also want to avoid plagiarism. This page provides information about quoting, source referencing and plagiarism.


You do not need permission to quote from a copyright-protected work. You may only use quotes or images that are relevant to your argument, and they must account for only a small part of the work. They must not be used to enhance the appearance of your work. When you include a quote or image in your work, you must always acknowledge the source.  


If you are summarising a source in your own words, this is not quoting, but paraphrasing. In this case too, you should always provide a source reference.


Sources must always be acknowledged by means of a reference. If you are writing a paper, for example, you must refer in the correct way to the sources you have consulted and used. Sources used in teaching materials must also be acknowledged in references. It must always be possible for the reader to find and check the source.


Permission is not required to use the text of laws, decrees, regulations, court decisions or administrative decisions, but make sure you provide a clear source reference. The text of parliamentary papers, the minutes of municipal-council meetings and reports by public services, created and published by the authorities themselves, can be reproduced in full unless there is mention of a copyright reservation.


The use of visual material is only permitted if it is relevant to the work you are creating. Illustrations with a licence that allows reuse (e.g. Creative Commons) can be freely used. If this is not the case, you must seek permission from the copyright holder, who is entitled to ask for a reimbursement.


It is always permissible to include links to online material that is freely available on the internet. It is also permitted to include links to online material that is not freely available, provided the University Library has a licence for using it within Utrecht University. You can access this material by logging in with your Solis ID. It is permitted to embed material (in an electronic learning environment, for example) from sources that are lawful and legitimate, and freely accessible. Downloading online material for reuse is not permitted.


Plagiarism is a form of fraud and is a breach of academic integrity. This is why Bachelor’s and Master’s theses are checked for plagiarism.