For a conference paper, I created an image compiling data from multiple sources. What is the correct format for acknowledging the sources?

Map showing road condition (Data source: Esri, OpenStreetMap) or,

Map showing road condition (Data sources: Esri, OpenStreetMap)

In most of the literature, I observed authors commonly using 'source' when they mean 'sources'. Shouldn't it be 'sources'?

  • Unless there is some standard that I am unaware of in a domain specific application, either should be fine. Such semantic details are unlikely to affect the validity of your paper. In fact, if they do, someone needs to settle down.
    – Vladhagen
    Nov 30, 2018 at 23:41
  • I had to look at it three times to see the difference. I think few would notice and fewer would care.
    – Buffy
    Dec 28, 2019 at 12:18

2 Answers 2


As others have pointed out, the choice is likely arbitrary since it will not affect the readability of your article much.

If you want to keep the formulation as is, I would personally go with "Data sources" as I think it makes more linguistic sense. If I would ask the reader to check out two published articles, I would write: "see the papers by Uncle Tom Cobley (1889) and Alan Smithee (1968)" and not "see the paper by Uncle Tom Cobley (1889) and Alan Smithee (1968).". Similarly, I would write "see the data sources Esri and OpenStreetMap" and not "see the data source Esri and OpenStreetMap".

However, one possible workaround would be to side-step the issue by chosing a different formulation. For instance, perhaps by writing "Data from", or just simply "Data".


As long as you give proper credit to all images you’ve used and have not violated their terms of use, I see no reason why anyone would mind (or notice!) a little ‘s’.

  • While I agree with your statement here, I would like to add that I think the question is within the scope of this stackexchange site.
    – Phil
    Dec 3, 2018 at 9:37

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