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Use of Icons in Diagrams in Thesis - Do I need to reference them?

I am a paid subscriber to an online service that lets you download icons. As a paid subscriber— the service tells me I don't need to attribute the illustrator of any icons I download (i've essentially bought them) (free versions are meant to be attributed to the illustrator). 

If I use these icons to create my own diagram for my thesis—what are the referencing conventions? Do I indeed not reference the original illustrator? Or as its academic work should I reference anyway?

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Hi Sarah

Patrick's picture
Patrick, 1 year ago

Hi Sarah

your last question is right - in academic work, if you are using material that is not created by you then you do need to reference it. Another general principle of referencing is that a reader of your work should be able to relocate the referenced material. So it is still best to use the illustrators' names if you know them. Supposing the service is called Icons Magic and your illustrator is called A. Smith. In your text you would have (Smith 2016), and in your reference list you'd have Smith A. 2016, Title of the icon, Name of service, viewed 10 January 2017, <URL of the icon, or of the service if the icon URL is not public>. Obviously you will have a different viewed date!

If you don't know the illustrator name then you should reference the provider of the illustrations. Then you would have (Icons Magic 2016a) and (Icons Magic 2016b) etc in your text, with the reference list entries Icons Magic 2016a, Title of the icon, viewed 10 January 2017, <URL of the service>. The order of the 2016a and 2016b in the reference list is determined by the alphabetical order of the titles of the icons, and this then determines which one you use in your in-text citations.

Hope this helps!

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