I am currently writing my PhD thesis and found a very helpful illustration of the human brain which is distributed under a CC license. I made some minor changes to the image, but of course I still have to give credit to the original authors of it.

Here is a link to the resource in question.

I am really unsure about how to correctly mention the authors in my thesis, as for two of them, I only have their user names. This might look a little odd: Slashme; Patrick J. Lynch; Fvasconcellos

Can this still be considered a valid attribution? I don't know how else I could do that.

  • 1
    You have to check the style guide for your university and subject. There are different ones, including Chicago. Style guides set out how to reference things in detail. Commented Jan 20, 2023 at 17:32

2 Answers 2


Credit the (user)name you see.

From the CC Wiki:

Many people believe that attribution must be given to the real name of the author of a work, but this is not the case — always give attribution to the name the author has specified, even if it is a pseudonym. If the author does not give a name or explicitly requests to be anonymous, you must give the other attribution information (i.e., “T” and “SL” from “TASL”) without crediting the author.

If it's going in your works cited, your style guide may have additional guidance. For example, in APA, if a name can't be broken down into first and last names (e.g. "Dr. Seuss"), it should be listed as is in the works cited and in-text citations. No quotes are used around names.


If you can contact the authors and ask under what name they want to be credited, it won't hurt if you do. In your case, I'd suggest contacting the authors through the "discussion" page of their user accounts.

If you don't get an answer, your only option is to just go with what you have. And it's a fairly safe assumption that if the author already signed their work with the name they used, then it is the name under which they want to be credited for it, or at least are fine with it.

It's the author's right to sign their work with their legal name or a pseudonym, and their choice should be respected. Sure, we're more used to pseudonyms for creative works than in the academic sphere, but it is possible to come across an academic work signed by other than the author's legal name. I know of a transgender scientist who published articles in academic journals under a name she wasn't yet allowed to legally assume at that point of transition. Not really the same situation, but technically, her real name (the name she identified with) would be understood as a pseudonym.

And sure, it is going to seem unusual when the pseudonym is clearly not anyone's legal name but an internet username. But that doesn't make it wrong. What would be wrong is if you didn't credit the authors properly. So go ahead and give credit to Slashme, Patrick J. Lynch and Fvasconcellos.

It's perfectly legit.

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