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260 Views 2 Replies Last post: Jun 5, 2018 9:41 AM by walton RSS
Level 0 84 posts since
Aug 11, 2015
Currently Being Moderated

Jun 2, 2018 6:02 AM

Which sourced information 'must' be acknowledged?

My latest book has poems for families and schools, intermingled with an element of general knowledge following each poem.  For example:  a poem about a lizard, followed by a brief, interesting fact about lizards.


I sourced each general knowledge based fact, from my original, very old teaching plans and then checked on line and in books to ensure all were still relevant and correct.


Two questions:


  • Should I acknowledge a specific source for each 'general knowledge' based fact?  Each one is of course readily available on many websites and in many books.

  • If I do acknowledge a specific range of sources - do I actually have to have permission from each one, to list it? 


I've marked students work, where they had to use Harvard referencing, but I'm guessing the procedure for acknowledging sources in a kid's books may be different.  All help gratefully received.....


Thank you

Level 2 493 posts since
Apr 1, 2015
Currently Being Moderated
1. Jun 4, 2018 4:33 PM in response to: Dragonish
Re: Which sourced information 'must' be acknowledged?

I think you've answered your own question.  If it's general knowledge, one would assume it's in the public domain, therefore fair use rules apply.  However if you directly quote someone else's work or state something as if it were a fact such as: 'lizards detect scent with their tongues', which, while generally understood in zoological circles, might seem farfetched to the average person, I'd provide a reference to show I didn't make it up.  But, if you wrote, 'the lizard tested the air with its tongue and, sensing danger, slithered under a rock', you are using creative license and I wouldn't reference The Chicago Manual of Style, Thirteenth Edition, pg.11


If I do acknowledge a specific range of sources - do I actually have to have permission from each one, to list it?

Yes on the copyright page.

But then, again, hey, it's poetry, a kid's book in effect.  When was the last time you saw one footnoted, annotated, referenced?—enkidu 

Level 5 19,154 posts since
Sep 5, 2009
Currently Being Moderated
2. Jun 5, 2018 9:41 AM in response to: Dragonish
Re: Which sourced information 'must' be acknowledged?

Facts and information cannot be copyrighted.  The language describing such facts can be copyrighted, although this can be a gray area.


During the confirmation hearings of Judge Gorsuch, there was opposition based on his having supposedly plagiarized (copyright infringement) another author's work.  That author said, no it was not plagiarizing: he was giving definitions of specific medical conditions and there was really no other way to give a clear, precise, definition.  But things get murky: while short phrases are often not copyrightable, a short phrase that is the heart of a poem could be.


Take a look at


I could see giving references for some things, so they can be looked up, but, otherwise, I see no need to give a citation.


You don't have to have permission to related a fact or even information; in an academic setting, you might, especially if that information is new.


Although the copyright page is often used for acknowledgements, that space is limited.  Some author's create an acknowledgement page(s) and give more information than otherwise possible.


Given the spam here, come on over to  selfpublishingforum.  It's free.  Many of us who answer questions here are active there.




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