How to include pictures in a research paper
It is often said that a picture can speak more than a thousand words. In all kinds of research papers, pictures are essential in adding to the richness of the literature and analysis because of the valuable insight they can offer. For example, pictures of measured data from statistical applications are very important additions to the “Data presentation and analysis” chapter or section of any research paper.
This is because they help to complement verbal discussions or analysis by offering a visual presentation of the statistical technique used to measure the variables of interest. However, where the researcher is not the originator of such pictures, it is very important to cite the source of the picture according to the prescribed format. In the case of statistical applications mentioned above, for example, be sure to disclose which application generated the picture or printout as well as the version of such an application (e.g., SPSS version 27).
What is a research paper?
A research paper is a form of academic writing which involves formally investigating a field of knowledge or topic of interest in order to add to the existing stock of knowledge in that field and/or solve a particular problem. Educational research is formal because it is not based on the subjective discretions of the researcher but on an accepted and objective standard such as the scientific method of inquiry. Research papers can be of different types. These include term papers, seminar presentations, undergraduate projects, post-graduate thesis or dissertations, conference/workshop papers, and journal entries, among others.
Though these highlighted papers and others can be structured in diverse ways, conducting research in this context basically requires that the researcher identifies a problem or area of interest; formulates research questions and/or hypothesis; reviews the existing literature in the field; collects, measures and analyzes relevant data; discusses the findings; makes conclusions and recommendations based on the findings and then suggests possible directions for future research.
Some things to consider before including pictures in a research paper
As noted above, pictures can complement words to make a research paper richer in terms of providing more insight. However, the researcher must ensure that such pictures are optimally included to generate the desired effects. To this end, some of the tips below can help.
Ensure the picture adds value to your research paper
Pictures may be a necessary aspect of some research papers but this does not imply that they should not be selected meticulously and meritoriously. The researcher must critically evaluate all pictures he or she intends to include in their paper and select only the most relevant, i.e., those that will help illuminate verbal discussions/analysis and consequently deepen the understanding of readers.
Proper labeling and citation
Research papers are formal documents with rules on how each of them should be written, structured, or formatted. Therefore, ensure that your pictures are labeled according to the rules provided by whoever the paper is meant for (such as a university department or a print journal). The rules are usually determined by Style Guides like the Modern Language Association (MLA), the American Psychological Association, etc. Properly citing the sources of any picture you have borrowed is necessary to enable you avoid plagiarism.
Pictures should be suitably located
After toiling hard to gather the pictures needed for his or her research, the researcher should ensure that the selected pictures are appropriately inserted into the desired areas of the paper. In some social science projects and theses, for example, a tabular presentation of the data used for the research is located on the first page of the fourth chapter titled “Data presentation and analysis.”
Sometimes the researcher may have several pictures that cannot all be accommodated in the main body of a project or thesis/dissertation. In such instances, it will be appropriate to attach such pictures in the “Appendices” section at the end of the paper.
Carry the images along
The pictures do not serve as mere decorations but have been selected to help provide more insight and thus enrich the research paper. To this end, the researcher should ensure that the pictures are properly integrated into the verbal discussions or analysis in the paper. For example, “Figure 1.0 is a graphical representation of all the differenced variables in the time series.” etc.
Citing pictures in a research paper
There are many kinds of pictures as well as picture sources and they can also be cited in a variety of ways. For simplicity, the examples in this article will focus entirely on how to cite digital (internet) pictures.
Format: Image Creator’s Last Name, First Name. “Image Title.” Website Name , Day Month Year Published, URL.
Example: Jones, Daniel. “The Hope Creek nuclear plant.” LearnersHub , 9 November 2017, www.learnershub.net/2017/09/11/nuclear-technology-explained.html.
Format: Last Name, First Name. M [initials]. “Title.” Digital image. Website Title. Month Date, Year published. Accessed Month Date, Year. URL.
If the picture has no title, then a description can be used instead.
Date Accessed should only be included if the publication date is unavailable.
Example: Jones, Daniel R. “The Hope Creek nuclear plant.”Digital image. LearnersHub , Accessed 9 November 2017. www.learnershub.net.
Format: Author’s last name. First initial. (Publication or creation date). Title of image [Type of image]. Name of publisher. Museum or university. URL.
Example: Jones, R. 2017. The Hope Creek nuclear plant .[Photo]. National Science Museum. https//:www.nationalsciencemsuem.org/nuclearscience/2017/11/the-hope-creek-nuclear-plant.jpg.
Pictures of all kinds (including tables, charts, graphs, figures, photographs, etc) are useful components in a research paper. This is because of the insight they can bring by complementing verbal discussions and analysis. However, pictures should not be included in a research paper arbitrarily but follow some guidelines such as those presented above.
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Using and Citing Images: How to Include Pictures in a Research Paper
If you think to include pictures, charts, images, and other non-textual elements in your essay or research paper, it can be a very wise decision. An image can make your writings more understandable and visually attractive. Some pictures serve as an example of what you describe in your research.
There are many good reasons to use images for your academic writing. However, most students avoid it, losing their chance to make their papers more interesting. Often, scholars don’t know that a picture or graphic can be used in their essay, thesis or research papers. Sometimes students understand that using non-textual elements is allowed, however, they don’t know how to include pictures in a research paper correctly with proper citing.
In fact, it’s quite easy to understand how to include images in a research paper. It’s also simple to remember some basic rules and recommendations for including non-textual elements. You can easily upgrade your skills in writing academic papers with our special guide. Here we included clear explanations and guidelines that will teach you to choose and use images for your academic writings.
The best experts from our research paper writing service have prepared a detailed guide on including pictures, graphs and charts in your research paper. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!
Why would you need to use Images in your research paper?
It’s not necessary to include images in your research paper. However, sometimes it can be very useful. There are several reasons to use images when writing research paper :
- To explain a process.
Some processes are complex and are not easy to explain. If you feel that words are not enough to describe something, you can illustrate it with a picture. For example, you can write pages describing the arranging of driving gear or use a single illustration to show it.
- To show the example.
Any statement you use in your article or research paper shall be supported with evidence and an example. You can use a picture or chart as an understandable example to support your idea. For example, speaking about the effect of different drugs on bacteria, you can use before-after pictures and graphs as illustrative examples.
- To classify terms.
If you use a lot of terms to write research paper, you can group and classify them with the help of a chart or scheme. Such a format allows you to make a huge piece of information structured and understandable.
- To attract attention.
Sometimes a graphic image can serve for attracting the attention of your readers. Such images may be included in a research paper when you write about pieces of art, cultures, etc. In such a case, images are not necessary; however, they will make your writing more entertaining and visually attractive.
We’ve described some popular reasons that make students use images when writing their essays, theses, research papers or dissertations. It’s possible that you will find your own perks of using images.
What types of images can you include in your paper?
In order to make your academic paper better structured and more understandable, you can use several types of images, including photos, drawing, infographics, charts, etc. There are no strict limitations of the types of images that you can use, creating research paper. However, there are clear requirements for those images.
Choosing a picture for your research paper, you shall be sure it fits your writing adequately. You can use almost any type of pictures. However, it’s better to make detailed pictures research and choose those that have some important characteristics:
- Visible and clear both in web-document and on a printed paper.
- Legal to use (it’s fair to place your own images or those that are allowed to use by their owner.)
- Correspondent to the context.
There are three main ways to include pictures research paper needs in its text:
- At the end of your research paper . You can place pictures after the text of your research writing, living a reference or a link to a correspondent picture inside your text.
- Inside your paper, separately from the text . It’s also possible to place a picture on a separate page inside your research paper. In this case, you can also mention the correspondent picture in the text, addressing your reader to it.
- Inside the text . You are also allowed to place a picture inside your text using in-text citations to indicate each image. However, many teachers ask to avoid it as it may make text formatting more complicated. If you choose this way of picture placement, your teacher may also recommend you to put a picture to a separate page repeatedly for its better presentation.
Don’t forget that each picture shall have its name, description, and number, so your reader can easily find a picture that belongs to a text extract easily. Moreover, you may need to include some data about the picture owner, so you won’t violate any copyright norms.
If you plan an edition of a picture before placement (cropping it, adding some elements, etc.) it’s better to be sure that the owner of the picture allows it. You don’t have to worry about it if you draw or design the picture on your own.
Graphs & Charts
Graphs and charts often have great informative value and can be used instead of long and wordy explanations. There are many reasons to include these elements in your research paper. The most common are:
- To compare two or more objects, phenomena or terms;
- To illustrate some statistics data;
- To illustrate meaning, size or level of influence of different phenomena.
Using graphs and charts decides several problems at once. It gives a huge amount of information in a very laconic way and allows comparing different results and criteria. Such elements make your research paper easier to read. Moreover, such technic guides the attention of your focus group to some important facts and data presented in your writing.
You can use ready materials after some graphs research or create your own graphics, using simple computer programs or online tools. Support your graphs and charts with understandable comments and name each of its illustrated parts, so a reader can easily understand what your graphic or chart shows.
Just like with pictures, you can choose one of three possible ways to place a graph or histogram: after the text of your research paper, on a separate page right after the correspondent paragraph or right inside the text .
How to use and cite images and graphs in your research paper
If you decide to place any type of images in your research paper, you shall understand that there are special rules for the fair use of pictures and graphs. Following these rules will help your readers to find the needed image easy and fast. The correct citing is also crucial for making the whole research paper more understandable.
While the rules of using and citing images are not difficult, they may differ depending on the academic style required by your university. That’s why it’s important to recognize the academic styles and to know the differences between them to use and to cite images correctly.
APA format is widely used for scientific works and media presentations. In addition, this style is very common for museums, exhibitions, galleries, libraries, photo collections, etc. Choosing this style to cite your images and to mention resources it was taken from, you give a full list of important information concerning an image.
In the case of APA style, image citations shall include:
- Name of a picture creator (an artist, web-designer, photographer) or an owner of an image;
- Full date: day, month, and year when a picture or photo was created. If you use some historical photos or images, you can mention the year only as the exact date may be unknown;
- Place where an image was published: country, city, state, etc.
- A name or a title of an image if there’s any;
- A publisher: organization, association or a person who presented the image.
N.B.: If you use a picture that was published on the Internet, you provide a link to it instead of the name of a publisher.
Example #1: Johanson, M. (Photographer). (2017, September, 5). Vienna, Austria. Rescued bird. National gallery.
Example #2: Hendricks, N. (Photographer). (2008, July 29). Reconstruction of a building [digital image]. Retrieved from //flickr.com/photos/56746835072/
MLA style is one of the most commonly used for academic paper and publication. It allows using nearly any picture without risk of violating the rights of its owner or creator. Moreover, it allows giving background information about an image in a very laconic and informative way.
In the case of MLA style, image citations shall include:
- Name of a creator or owner of an image;
- The title, name or description of an image;
- Site or resources where it was published or presented;
- Names of contributors responsible for an image if there are any;
- Version or serial number of an image if there’s any;
- The name of an image’s publisher;
- The full date of creating or publishing an image;
- The link to an original image used for your research paper.
Example: Austeur, Henry. “Abandoned gardens, Potawatomi, Ontario.” Historical Museum, Reproduction no. QW-YUJ78-1503141, 1989, www.flickr.com/pictures/item/609168336/
Written by Karli Anderson
One of the most experienced writers in our team, Karli, has finished the Johns Hopkins University in Public Health. Apart from volunteering and educating children at Sunday Schools, Karli helps students worldwide and writes academic texts in such subjects as education, environmental health, and epidemiology.
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How to cite images and graphs in your research paper
Table of Contents
If you are confused about whether you should include pictures, images, charts, and other non-textual elements in your research paper or not, I would suggest you must insert such elements in your research paper. Including non-textual elements like images and charts in the research paper helps extract a higher acceptance of your proposed theories.
An image or chart will make your research paper more attractive, interesting, explanatory, and understandable for the audience. In addition, when you cite an image or chart, it helps you describe your research and its parts with far more precision than simple, long paragraphs.
There are plenty of reasons why you should cite images in your research paper. However, most scholars and academicians avoid it altogether, losing the opportunity to make their research papers more interesting and garner higher readership.
Additionally, it has been observed that there are many misconceptions around the use or citation of images in research papers. For example, it is widely believed and practiced that using pictures or any graphics in the research papers will render it unprofessional or non-academic. However, in reality, no such legit rules or regulations prohibit citing images or any graphic elements in the research papers.
You will find it much easier once you know the appropriate way to cite images or non-textual elements in your research paper. But, it’s important to keep in mind some rules and regulations for using different non-textual elements in your research paper. You can easily upgrade your academic/ research writing skills by leveraging various guides in our repository.
In this guide, you will find clear explanations and guidelines that will teach you how to identify appropriate images and other non-textual elements and cite them in your research paper. So, cut the clutter; let’s start.
Importance of citing images in a research paper
Although it’s not mandatory to cite images in a research paper, however, if you choose to include them, it will help showcase your deep understanding of the research topic. It can even represent the clarity you carry for your research topic and help the audience navigate your paper easily.
There are several reasons why you must cite images in your research paper like:
(i) A better explanation for the various phenomenon
While writing your research paper, certain topics will be comparatively more complex than others. In such a scenario where you find out that words are not providing the necessary explanation, you can always switch to illustrating the process using images. For example, you can write paragraphs describing climate change and its associated factors and/or cite a single illustration to describe the complete process with its embedded factors.
(ii) To simplify examples
To create an impeccable research paper, you need to include evidence and examples supporting your argument for the research topic. Rather than always explaining the supporting evidence and examples through words, it will be better to depict them through images. For example, to demonstrate climate change's effects on a region, you can always showcase and cite the “before and after” images.
(iii) Easy Classification
If your research topic requires segregation into various sub-topics and further, you can easily group and classify them in the form of a classification tree or a chart. Providing such massive information in the format of a classification tree will save you a lot of words and present the information in a more straightforward and understandable form to your audience.
(iv) Acquire greater attention from the audience
Including images in your research paper, theses, and dissertations will help you garner the audience's greater attention. If you add or cite images in the paper, it will provide a better understanding and clarification of the topics covered in your research. Additionally, it will make your research paper visually attractive.
Types of Images that you can use or cite in your research paper
Using and citing images in a research paper as already explained can make your research paper more understanding and structured in appearance. For this, you can use photos, drawings, charts, graphs, infographics, etc. However, there are no mandatory regulations to use or cite images in a research paper, but there are some recommendations as per the journal style.
Before including any images in your research paper, you need to ensure that it fits the research topic and syncs with your writing style. As already mentioned, there are no strict regulations around the usage of images. However, you should make sure that it satisfies certain parameters like:
- Try using HD quality images for better picture clarity in both print and electronic formats
- It should not be copyrighted, and if it is, you must obtain the license to use it. In short cite the image properly by providing necessary credits to its owner
- The image should satisfy the context of the research topic
You can cite images in your research paper either at the end, in between the topics, or in a separate section for all the non-textual elements used in the paper. You can choose to insert images in between texts, but you need to provide the in-text citations for every image that has been used.
Additionally, you need to attach the name, description and image number so that your research paper stays structured. Moreover, you must cite or add the copyright details of the image if you borrow images from other platforms to avoid any copyright infringement.
Graphs and Charts
You can earn an advantage by providing better and simple explanations through graphs and charts rather than wordy descriptions. There are several reasons why you must cite or include graphs and charts in your research paper:
- To draw a comparison between two events, phenomena, or any two random parameters
- Illustration of statistics through charts and graphs are most significant in drawing audience attention towards your research topic
- Classification tree or pie charts goes best to show off the degree of influence of a specific event, or phenomenon in your research paper
With the usage of graphs and charts, you can answer several questions of your readers without them even questioning. With charts and graphs, you can provide an immense amount of information in a brief yet attractive manner to your readers, as these elements keep them interested in your research topic.
Providing these non-textual elements in your research paper increases its readability. Moreover, the graphs and charts will drive the reader’s attention compared to text-heavy paragraphs.
You can easily use the graphs or charts of some previously done research in your chosen domain, provided that you cite them appropriately, or else you can create your graphs through different tools like Canva, Excel, or MS PowerPoint. Additionally, you must provide supporting statements for the graphs and charts so that readers can understand the meaning of these illustrations easily.
Similarly, like pictures or images, you can choose one of the three possible methods of placement in your research paper, i.e., either after the text or on a different page right after the corresponding paragraph or inside the paragraph itself.
How to Cite Images and Graphs in a Research Paper?
Once you have decided the type of images you will be using in your paper, understand the rules of various journals for the fair usage of these elements. Using pictures or graphs as per these rules will help your reader navigate and understand your research paper easily. If you borrow or cite previously used pictures or images, you need to follow the correct procedure for that citation.
Usage or citation of pictures or graphs is not prohibited in any academic writing style, and it just differs from each other due to their respective formats.
Cite an Image/Graphs in APA (American Psychological Association) style
Most of the scientific works, society, and media-based research topics are presented in the APA style. It is usually followed by museums, exhibitions, galleries, libraries, etc. If you create your research paper in APA style and cite already used images or graphics, you need to provide complete information about the source.
In APA style, the list of the information that you must provide while citing an element is as follows:
- Owner of the image (artist, designer, photographer, etc.)
- Complete Date of the Image: Follow the simple DD/MM/YYYY to provide the details about the date of the image. If you have chosen a certain historical image, you can choose to provide the year only, as the exact date or month may be unknown
- Country or City where the Image was first published
- A Name or Title of the Image (Optional: Means If it is not available, you can skip it)
- Publisher Name: Organization, association, or the person to whom the image was first submitted
If you want to cite some images from the internet, try providing its source link rather than the name or webpage.
Format/Example of Image Citation:
Johanson, M. (Photographer). (2017, September, Vienna, Austria. Rescued bird. National gallery.
Cite an Image/Graphs in MLA (Modern Language Association) style
MLA style is again one of the most preferred styles worldwide for research paper publication. You can easily use or cite images in this style provided no rights of the image owner get violated. Additionally, the format or the information required for citation or usage is very brief yet precise.
In the MLA style, the following are the details that a used image or graph must carry:
- Name of the creator of the owner
- Title, Name, or the Description of the Image
- Website Or the Source were first published
- Contributors Name (if any)
- Version or Serial Number (if any)
- Publisher’s Details; at least Name must be provided
- Full Date (DD:MM: YYYY) of the first published Image
- Link to the original image
Auteur, Henry. “Abandoned gardens, Potawatomi, Ontario.” Historical Museum, Reproduction no. QW-YUJ78-1503141, 1989, www.flickr.com/pictures/item/609168336/
It is easy to cite images in your research paper, and you should add different forms of non-textual elements in the paper. There are different rules for using or citing images in research papers depending on writing styles to ensure that your paper doesn’t fall for copyright infringement or the owner's rights get violated.
No matter which writing style you choose to write your paper, make sure that you provide all the details in the appropriate format. Once you have all the details and understanding of the format of usage or citation, feel free to use as many images that make your research paper intriguing and interesting enough.
If you still have doubts about how to use or cite images, join our SciSpace (Formerly Typeset) Community and post your questions there. Our experts will address your queries at the earliest. Explore the community to know what's buzzing and be a part of hot discussion topics in the academic domain.
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The Power of Images in Research Papers: How They Enhance the Quality of Your Paper?
Why are images important in research papers, the benefits of using images in research papers, using high-resolution images in a research paper, citing the source of the images used in a research paper, using relevant images in a research paper, optimizing the size and placement of images in a research paper, checking the copyright status of images before using them, saving images in a lossless format, compressing images before adding them to a research paper, challenges and limitations of using images in research paper, cameras suitable for taking research images, how can i label my images in research paper inside image itself, popular image labelling tools with their key features:, whether image caption should contain keywords listed in the research paper, whether you need permission to include maps in your research paper .
Research papers must include images and figures because they significantly increase the work’s impact and readability. Images are a useful tool for researchers and authors since, in today’s world, visual information is frequently simpler to absorb and retain than text-only information. Images in research papers can do more than just serve as illustrations; they can also help to clarify difficult concepts, offer further details, and even enhance the text in a way that makes the article more interesting and memorable.
In this post, we’ll examine the use of photographs in research papers and the reasons they’re crucial to academic and scientific writing. We will also go over the many kinds of photos that can be utilised in research papers, their advantages, and the best ways to use them. If you want to write engaging and effective research papers, whether you’re a researcher, student, or scientific enthusiast, you must grasp the significance of images in research papers.
Images are a useful tool for researchers and authors in the scientific community because of their capacity to enthral and instruct. Research papers can benefit from the addition of figures like photographs, drawings, and block diagrams, whether they are taken with a camera or made using software like Canva. To make sure that images have the desired effect, it is crucial to use them efficiently. The advantages of include photos in research papers, the optimal usage methods, as well as the difficulties and restrictions that must be taken into account, will all be covered in this article.
From relevance and clarity to captioning and accessibility, we will examine the key factors that can impact the use and impact of images in research papers. Whether you are a seasoned researcher or just starting out, this discussion will provide valuable insights and guidance for using images effectively in your scientific work.
This article focuses only about the images which are captured from the cameras and block diagrams drawn by the researchers to show the methodology or any other aspect related to research. I have written separate articles on charts/graphs and Tables which you can refer below for further details.
- Maximizing the Impact of Your Research Paper with Graphs and Charts
- Best Practices for Designing and Formatting Tables in Research Papers
Images in research papers serve a variety of functions, from promoting reading and engagement to strengthening comprehension and memory. Many times, using graphics can make it easier for readers to understand complicated ideas and information. For instance, pictures can give a clear visual representation of the research topic, while sketches and block diagrams can help explain intricate systems and processes.
Images can enhance the paper’s readability and comprehension in addition to acting as a textual supplement. A picture can give the research a context in the real world, while a diagram can aid to demonstrate a topic or process that is mentioned in the text. When used well, photographs can create a seamless transition between written and visual data, strengthening the study paper’s impact and retention.
Cross-disciplinary communication can also be facilitated by the use of images in research articles. A block diagram, for instance, can be used to explain a complicated concept to a non-expert audience, while a photograph can draw in readers from many cultural backgrounds. Images can contribute to the accessibility and impact of research articles by bridging the gap between text and visual information.
In conclusion, graphics play a variety of roles in research papers and can significantly improve the work by bringing complicated concepts into focus, enhancing the language, and adding to its readability and retention. Images are a useful tool for researchers and authors who want to produce work that is impactful and accessible, whether they are used to depict study subjects, clarify procedures, or provide context.
The use of images in research papers can bring many benefits, making them valuable tools for researchers and authors. Some of the key benefits include:
- Enhancing readability and engagement: Images can make research papers more visually appealing and engaging, encouraging readers to stay focused and interested in the work. They can also help to break up text-heavy sections and make the paper more visually appealing, which can improve the overall reading experience.
- Improving understanding and retention of information: Research has shown that people tend to remember information better when it is presented in a visual format. By incorporating images into research papers, authors can help readers to better understand and retain information, which can increase the impact of the work.
- Facilitating cross-disciplinary communication: Images can help to bridge the gap between text and visual information, making research papers more accessible to a wider audience. This can be especially useful when communicating complex ideas to non-experts or individuals from different cultural backgrounds.
- Making the paper stand out and be more memorable: Research papers with high-quality, relevant, and clear images are more likely to be remembered and have a greater impact. By using images effectively, authors can make their work stand out from the crowd and increase its impact.
Best Practices to Follow when Adding Pictures to a Research Paper
There are a few best practices to follow when adding pictures to a research paper:
- Use high-resolution images: Make sure the images you use are of high quality and resolution. This will ensure that they look clear and crisp when printed or viewed on a screen.
- Cite the source of the image: Always include a caption for the image and cite the source. This is important for academic integrity and to give credit to the original creator of the image.
- Use relevant images: Choose images that are directly related to the content of the paper and will help to enhance the reader’s understanding.
- Optimize the size and placement of the images: Make sure the images are appropriately sized and placed in the document to ensure they do not detract from the text.
- Check copyright: Make sure the image you are using is not copyrighted and that you have permission to use it.
- Save images in a lossless format: To ensure that images maintain their quality, save them in a lossless format, such as TIFF or PNG.
- Compress images: Reduce the file size of the images before adding them to the paper, this will make the paper more manageable.
Sure, when it comes to using high-resolution images in a research paper, there are a few key things to keep in mind:
- Resolution refers to the number of pixels in an image and is typically measured in dots per inch (dpi) or pixels per inch (ppi). The higher the resolution, the more pixels an image contains, and the sharper and more detailed it will appear.
- For printed materials, a resolution of at least 300 dpi is generally recommended. This will ensure that the images look clear and crisp when printed, even at a larger size.
- For images that will be viewed primarily on a screen, a resolution of 72 dpi is typically sufficient. Keep in mind that higher-resolution images will have larger file sizes, which may slow down loading times.
- It’s also important to keep in mind the size of the image when using it in a research paper. Larger images will take up more space and may cause the paper to be larger in size.
- Always check the resolution and size of the image before using it in your paper. If the resolution is too low, the image may appear pixelated or blurry.
In summary, by using high-resolution images, you ensure that they look clear and crisp when printed or viewed on a screen, also the size of the image should be considered to not make the paper too large.
Citing the source of the images used in a research paper is an important aspect of academic integrity. It gives credit to the original creator of the image and allows readers to locate the image themselves if they wish to see it in more detail.
When including an image in a research paper, it is important to include a caption for the image. The caption should include the following information:
- Image number: This is a number or letter that corresponds to the image, typically in the format “Figure 1” or “Image A.”
- Title: A brief title that describes the image.
- Source: The source of the image, including the name of the creator, the title of the work, and the date of creation.
- Copyright information: If the image is copyrighted, it is important to include the copyright information along with the source. This includes the name of the copyright holder and the year the image was copyrighted.
- Permission: If you obtained permission to use the image, include the name of the individual or organization that granted permission.
It is also important to include a list of figures or a bibliography at the end of the paper that includes all the images used in the paper with the same information provided in the caption.
Citing the source of the image is not only important for academic integrity, but also it gives credit to the original creator and allows the readers to locate the image if they want to see it in more detail. Additionally, it also demonstrates that you have done the necessary research to support the claims made in the paper.
Including pertinent graphics in a research paper can both improve the reader’s comprehension of the material and make the document more interesting.
When choosing photographs, it’s crucial to pick ones that directly relate to the paper’s subject matter and that will enrich the text. An photograph of that species, for instance, would be pertinent if the paper is on that type of animal, as opposed to an image of an entirely different animal.
Example : Pomegranate Fruit Quality Assessment using Image Processing techniques
It’s crucial to take the context of the photographs into account when inserting them in the document. For the reader to grasp the connection between the image and the text, the images should be positioned close to the words to which they are related.
It’s also a good idea to take the image and text’s formats into account; the text should be readable and the image should be presented in an understandable manner.
In summary, using relevant images in a research paper can greatly enhance the reader’s understanding of the content and make the paper more engaging. It is important to choose images that are directly related to the content of the paper and to place them close to the text that they are related to. The format of the image and the text should also be considered to ensure the reader can easily understand the relationship between the image and the text.
Making sure that photographs in a research paper are the right size and location can ensure that they do not distract from the content and that readers can easily understand them.
It’s crucial to make sure that the photos are proportionately sized to the text when it comes to size. Small images could be challenging to see and interpret, while large images might take up a lot of space and make the paper appear cluttered.
It’s crucial to take the paper’s flow into account when deciding where to position things. The sequence of the images should make sense and correspond to the flow of the text. In order for the reader to grasp the connection between the image and the text, they should also be placed close to the text to which they are related.
In order to avoid obstructing the text’s flow and causing the document to appear cluttered, it’s crucial to take the page layout into account while adding photos.
In conclusion, making sure that photographs in a research paper are the right size and placed properly will assist to guarantee that they do not take away from the text and that the reader can easily understand them. To ensure that the reader can easily understand the relationship between the image and the text, images should be appropriately sized in relation to the text, placed in a logical order that follows the progression of the text, and placed close to the text that they are related to. The format of the image and the text should also be taken into consideration. The page layout should also be taken into account to prevent the graphics from obstructing the text’s flow and from giving the document a cluttered appearance.
Before utilising any photos in your research report, it’s crucial to check their copyright status to make sure you have permission to use them.
While each country has its own copyright regulations, generally speaking, an image is protected by copyright if it was made by someone who also owns the rights to it.
You must request permission from the owner of the copyright to use an image in your research work. Usually, you can do this by getting in touch with the copyright owners personally or using a copyright clearance centre.
Additionally, it’s crucial to keep in mind that some photographs can be subject to Creative Commons licences, which permit the image’s restricted use in exchange for correct acknowledgement. It’s crucial to read and comprehend the terms of the licence before utilising the image because these licences can be found on the website where the image is posted.
In conclusion, it’s crucial to verify the copyright status of photographs before utilising them in a research paper to make sure you have the legal right to do so. If you want to use an image in your research work, you must first get the owner’s permission. You should also read and comprehend any Creative Commons licences that may be applicable before utilising the image.
To guarantee that the photographs retain their quality when utilised in a research article, it is crucial to save them in a lossless format.
When an image is saved and opened, there is no loss of image quality thanks to a lossless format because it does not compress the image’s data. TIFF, PNG, and GIF are popular lossless image formats. Compared to “lossy” formats like JPEG, these formats often have greater file sizes, but they maintain the image’s integrity and guarantee that it will seem just as crisp and detailed when opened as when it was saved.
Contrarily, lossy formats, like JPEG, are intended to minimise the file size of an image but do so at the expense of part of the image’s data, which might degrade the image’s quality. This is inappropriate for research articles because they call for high-quality photographs.
Additionally, it’s crucial to keep in mind that when you save an image in a lossless format, you can modify it more than once without it losing quality. This is crucial since you might need to crop or resize the image for the publication.
In summary, Saving images in a lossless format is important to ensure that the images maintain their quality when used in a research paper. Common lossless image formats include TIFF, PNG and GIF, and it’s also important to note that when you save an image in a lossless format, you can open and edit the image multiple times without losing quality.
Compressing images before adding them to a research paper is important to reduce the file size of the images and make the paper more manageable.
File size can be an issue when working with images in a research paper, as large image files can slow down the loading times of the paper and make it more difficult to share or upload. Compressing images can help to reduce the file size of the images and make the paper more manageable.
There are several ways to compress images:
- Lossless compression : This type of compression reduces the file size of the image without losing any image quality. Common lossless compression formats include PNG and GIF.
- Lossy compression : This type of compression reduces the file size of the image by discarding some of the image data. Common lossy compression formats include JPEG.
- Photoshop : you can use photoshop to save for web, this option will give you more control on how much you want to compress the image and the quality of the image.
It’s important to note that lossy compression can result in a loss of image quality, so it’s best to use lossless compression if possible. Additionally, you should always check the image quality after compressing it to make sure that it’s still suitable for the paper.
In summary, compressing images before adding them to a research paper is important to reduce the file size of the images and make the paper more manageable. There are several ways to compress images, such as lossless compression, lossy compression and using photoshop to save for web, but it’s important to keep in mind that lossy compression can result in a loss of image quality, so it’s best to use lossless compression if possible. Additionally, you should always check the image quality after compressing it to make sure that it’s still suitable for the paper.
Challenges and Limitations of Using Images in Research Papers Despite the many benefits of using images in research papers, there are also challenges and limitations to consider. Some of the key challenges and limitations include:
- Cost : Creating high-quality images can be expensive, especially if specialized software or equipment is required. This can be a challenge for researchers and authors working with limited budgets.
- Technical proficiency : Creating clear and effective images requires technical proficiency, which may not be available to all researchers and authors. This can limit the use of images in research papers and the impact they have.
- Copyright and intellectual property issues : Using images from other sources can raise questions of copyright and intellectual property. It is important to be aware of these issues and ensure that all images used in research papers are properly cited and attributed.
- Space limitations : Research papers often have limited space, which can impact the use and impact of images. This may require authors to carefully consider the number and size of images used in their work.
- Accessibility : Some images may not be accessible to all readers, especially those with visual impairments. This can limit the reach and impact of research papers and should be considered when using images.
In conclusion, while the use of images in research papers can bring many benefits, it is important to be aware of the challenges and limitations associated with their use. Whether related to cost, technical proficiency, intellectual property, space limitations, or accessibility, these factors can impact the use and impact of images in research papers. Careful consideration and planning can help to mitigate these challenges and ensure that images are used effectively to enhance the impact of research papers.
When it comes to taking images for a research paper, the most important factor to consider is the quality of the images. While there are many cameras on the market, not all cameras are equally suitable for taking research-related images. Here are some key components to consider when choosing a camera for research purposes:
- Image Resolution : High image resolution is essential for capturing images that are clear, detailed, and suitable for publication. Look for a camera with at least 12 megapixels, but higher is better.
- Image Sensor : The image sensor is the part of the camera that captures light and converts it into a digital image. The larger the image sensor, the more light it can capture, which can result in better image quality. Look for a camera with a full-frame image sensor.
- Lens Quality : The quality of the lens will greatly impact the sharpness and detail of your images. Look for a camera with high-quality lenses, or consider purchasing additional lenses to meet your specific needs.
- Shooting Modes : Research-related images often require specialized shooting modes, such as macro, time-lapse, or slow-motion. Make sure the camera you choose has the shooting modes you need for your research.
- Image Stabilization : Image stabilization helps to reduce camera shake, which can result in blurry images. If you plan on hand-holding the camera, consider a camera with built-in image stabilization.
- Cost : Research cameras can be expensive, so consider your budget when choosing a camera. Some lower-cost cameras may still meet your needs, so it’s important to research your options.
Labelling images within the image itself is a common practice in research papers and is used to provide additional information about the image or to highlight specific parts of the image. There are several methods to label images in a research paper:
- Use annotations or callouts : These are text boxes or shapes that can be added to the image to provide additional information or to highlight specific parts of the image. Annotation tools are available in most photo editing software, including Adobe Photoshop or GIMP.
- Use arrows, lines or shapes : You can use arrows, lines or shapes to draw attention to specific parts of the image or to show relationships between different parts of the image. This is especially useful in images that show complex structures or relationships.
- Use overlay text : You can add overlay text to the image to provide additional information. This is useful in cases where you want to provide information about the image that is not immediately obvious from the image itself.
- Label the axes : In images that represent data, it is important to label the axes to help the reader understand the data being represented. This can be done using annotation tools or by using overlay text.
- Use colour coding : You can use colour coding to highlight specific parts of the image or to show relationships between different parts of the image. This is especially useful in images that show complex structures or relationships.
It is important to use labelling and annotations in a clear and concise manner, as they help to provide additional information about the image and to make the image easier to understand. Labels and annotations should also be placed in a consistent manner throughout the research paper to help maintain visual consistency.
Sometimes you have huge amount of image data with data labelling requirements for your research tasks. Then my advice to you is to outsource the image data for data labelling expert while taking proper care regarding your data protection. I have written a blog post on outsourcing images for data labelling. You can visit the post below.
Outsourcing Research Data Labelling: Risks and Rewards for Researchers
Sometimes research scholars are badly in need of financial assistance. They can not take regular job due to the research work and stress they may come across because of the new job. They can take up data labelling jobs which is a pure mechanical work rather a mental stress. I have written an article on data labelling jobs for researchers. Please visit the blog post below for further details.
Data Annotation (Data Labelling): A Part-Time Job for Research Scholars
Following is the list of image labelling tools that are commonly used in research papers. The choice of tool will depend on the specific needs of the research paper and the level of detail required in the labelling and annotations.
- Adobe Photoshop : Adobe Photoshop is a professional-grade image editing software that has robust features for annotating and labelling images. It allows you to add text boxes, shapes, arrows, and lines to an image and also has a variety of brush tools for more detailed labelling.
- GIMP : GIMP is a free and open-source image editing software that has similar features to Adobe Photoshop. It allows you to add text boxes, shapes, and arrows to an image and also has a variety of brush tools for detailed labelling.
- Inkscape : Inkscape is a free and open-source vector graphics editor that is often used for annotating and labelling images. It has robust features for adding text boxes, shapes, and lines to an image, and also allows you to import and export images in a variety of file formats.
- Microsoft PowerPoint : Microsoft PowerPoint is a presentation software that has basic image labelling tools. It allows you to add text boxes, shapes, and arrows to an image but is limited in its capabilities compared to Adobe Photoshop or GIMP.
- Canva : Canva is a user-friendly design tool that has a variety of features for annotating and labelling images. It allows you to add text boxes, shapes, and arrows to an image and also has a variety of design elements that can be added to an image.
These are just a few examples of image-labelling tools that are commonly used in research papers. The choice of tool will depend on the specific needs of the research paper and the level of detail required in the labelling and annotations.
It is recommended to include relevant keywords in the caption of images in a research paper. Keywords are an important aspect of search engine optimization (SEO) and can help increase the visibility of the paper online. By including keywords in the caption, you make it easier for readers to understand the context and content of the image, and you also help search engines better understand the context of the paper. Additionally, including keywords in the caption can also help establish a clear connection between the image and the rest of the paper, making it easier for readers to understand the overall narrative of the research.
For maps created by government agencies (e.g. USGS, NASA), copyright restrictions may apply, but generally these maps can be used for educational and research purposes without obtaining permission.
For maps created by commercial map providers (e.g. Google Maps, Mapbox), the use of the map may be subject to licensing agreements and usage restrictions. In these cases, it is important to review the terms and conditions of use and to obtain the necessary permission before including the map in your research paper.
For custom maps created by individuals or organizations, it is important to obtain permission from the creator before using the map in your research paper. This includes both maps created by yourself as well as maps created by others that you would like to include in your paper.
It is always best to check the copyright and usage restrictions for any maps you plan to include in your research paper, and to obtain the necessary permission if required, in order to ensure that you are using the maps in a legal and ethical manner.
In conclusion, the inclusion of graphics in research articles can significantly affect their clarity, interest level, and overall impact. Images can enhance research papers’ clarity, depth, and visual appeal, allowing authors to convey their findings and concepts. But it’s crucial to use images wisely, keeping in mind things like relevancy, clarity, captioning, and accessibility. Researchers and authors should be aware of both the advantages and disadvantages of utilising images in their work, whether they choose to do so with photographs, drawings, or block diagrams. Researchers can improve the impact of their research papers and more effectively explain their findings by using photographs strategically.
Researchers can improve the impact of their research papers and more effectively explain their findings by using photographs strategically. It is ultimately up to each researcher and author to harness the power of images in research papers in order to make their work stand out.
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One easy way to include science images in your manuscripts is to download and customize them for your figures.
When downloading images from the internet to use in your scientific papers and presentations, you need to be careful that they match the copyright, resolution, and sizing rules that allow them to be used in academic journals. This science image guide provides tips to help you choose the right kinds of files that you can use to create your own impressive designs.
Which image format is best for research papers?
There are two categories of images that can be used for scientific publications: editable and uneditable. Editable images that can be fully customized and scaled without losing resolution are called vector files . Uneditable images don't allow you to adjust the design or color and come in wide range of formats from low to high resolution . Both of these image types can be used in scientific papers as long as you follow the proper copyright and resolution rules. Learn more about these image types and the different uses below.
1. Editable Images
The best kind of science images are editable vector files that allow you to customize the designs to best match the main points of your research. These include image file types such as Scalable Vector Graphics (.svg), Adobe Illustrator (.ai), Affinity Designer (.afdesign), Encapsulated PostScript (.eps), and some files in PowerPoint (.pptx) if they were drawn using PowerPoint shape tools.
Editable image tips:
- Some scientific journals, such as Science, require that you provide them with figures that are formatted using editable vector files.
- Be cautious of using images and database tools that only offer limited design customization options such as BioRender. Partially editable images can be difficult to make an illustration that looks professional and seamless with your data and other designs.
- Vector images have customizable sizes, resolution and transparent backgrounds, so you can always scale the image and insert it into any background.
- Make sure you follow the copyright rules associated with your image download. Some vector image databases require attribution and others allow you to use them for any purpose.
How to find editable images: The easiest ways to find editable images is to explore science image databases or use Google search. I recommend using the search terms "drawings", "vector art", or "vector images" paired with the image type keyword.
The example below shows the Google Image search results for "cancer cell drawings" with a variety of different options for downloading different types of science images. You will still need to make sure that the image is available as a vector file type to be fully editable (e.g. SVG, AI, or EPS file types). Most vector images will require some sort of payment or subscription to download the high resolution files and use without copyright issues.
Click here to view more scientific illustration examples of animals and cell types
2. Uneditable Images
The second best format is uneditable images. Common uneditable image types are PNG, TIFF, or JPEG formats and these can be incorporated into your scientific figures and presentations as long as they have high enough resolution and have copyright rules that allow you to use them in academic publications.
Uneditable image tips:
- Check the resolution of downloaded images to make sure they are high enough to use in scientific publications without looking grainy or unclear (see the "How to check image resolution" instructions in the section below).
- Try to find PNG images with transparent backgrounds to make it easier to incorporate into your scientific figures and posters.
- Be very careful in checking the source of uneditable images and follow all copyright rules associated with the image. Uneditable image are more likely to have copyright rules associated with them that do not allow their use in scientific journals.
How to find high resolution and transparent images: The easiest ways to find high resolution and transparent images is to explore science image databases or use Google search. I recommend using the search terms "transparent background" and using the Google "Tools" feature to limit the search for "Large" images.
The examples below shows the Google Large Image search results for "plant cell diagram transparent background" that show a variety of different options for downloading high resolution and transparent science images.
What image sizes are best for scientific publication?
Size and resolution are important because images need to be high resolution enough to show sharp shapes and lines when it is used in a printed or digital figure. Below are tips on how to choose the right image sizes and resolutions.
Resolution is the most important aspect of a downloaded image or scientific figure and affects the sharpness of the details. A low-resolution image will have around 72 PPI and high resolution images are at least 300 PPI.
- Most scientific journals require images and figures to be at least 300 PPI/DPI.
- The "PPI" stands for Pixels Per Inch and is used when referring to digital file resolution and "DPI" stands for Dots Per Inch and is used for printing resolution.
How to check image resolution:
- Windows computer: Right-click on the file, select Properties, then Details, and you will see the DPI in the Image section, labeled Horizontal Resolution and Vertical Resolution.
- Mac computer: Open the image in Preview and select Tools, then Adjust Size, and find the label Resolution.
The size requirements will depend on how you plan to use the image. Most scientific journals use a maximum figure width of 180mm, so if you only plan to use images in scientific publications, then you only need them large enough to look sharp within a 180 mm wide figure (~600 pixels wide).
If you plan to use the image in presentation or posters slides, you will need to have much larger images to not have resolution issues when shown on a big screen that is 1280 x 720 pixels or printed on a poster that is approximately 48 x 36 inches.
How can I find copyright-free images?
Copyright laws ensure that an image is only used in a way that is approved by the image creator. The best way to ensure that you download images with copyright rules that allow you to use them for academic journal submissions is to read the fine print on the image source. The summary below describes how to find images that are allowed for use in scientific papers.
Copyright License Review
Anyone who creates their own original artwork has the right to be acknowledged as the creator of that image. They automatically own the copyright for the image, which means that legally, they have the right to decide where and how that image can be used. In order to be able to use images in scientific papers, you will need to know what kind of copyright license is being used, which you can usually find by looking for the original source of the image or by reading the fine print of the image database.
Types of copyright licenses for scientific use :
- Public Domain - Images generally become public domain after 70 years after the creator's death. If the copyright is not renewed on the creator's behalf, the image can become part of the ‘public domain’, and the copyright no longer applies.
- Creative Commons 4 - You can adapt and share the image in anyway you like, but this license requires attribution, so you will need to include the original creator in the acknowledgements of the research paper, posters, and acknowledged on your presentation slides.
- Stock Images - Image databases that allow you to license the designs. Make sure to read the fine print on how you are allowed to use the image (e.g. personal and commercial uses).
How to find copyright-free images:
- Look for image databases that have copyright licenses that allow you to use the images "For personal, academic, and commercial projects and to modify it" such as:
- Simplified Science
- Wikimedia Commons
- NOTE: Some copyright-free image databases may still require that you attribute the illustration to the original author in your scientific publication. Read the fine print to make sure you are using the image correctly!
- Here is an example of Simplified Science Usage Rules for comparison to other image databases.
How to use downloaded images in publications?
After downloading images, the next step is to format them into your scientific designs. Two of the most common software tools that scientists use for figure formatting are Adobe Illustrator and PowerPoint. Below are two step-by-step training videos that show you how to use the downloaded images in your scientific publications and graphical abstracts.
Adobe Illustrator Graphical Abstract Tutorial
Adobe Illustrator tutorial that has clear instructions on how to use downloaded images in a figures/graphical abstracts, how to create your own custom illustrations, and how to optimize a line graph in Excel.
PowerPoint Graphical Abstract Tutorial
PowerPoint tutorial that has clear instructions on how to use downloaded images in a figures/graphical abstract, how to create your own custom illustrations in PowerPoint, and how to optimize an Excel bar chart.
Explore More Scientific Images and Templates
Download hundreds of science images and templates for PowerPoint, Adobe illustrator, and other software. This is an image database with completely customizable vector images that are designed for use in scientific graphical abstracts, grants, figures, illustrations, and posters.
Interested in reading more articles on scientific design? Learn more below:
How to Make Scientific Figures and Illustrations with Adobe Illustrator
How to Use Simplified Science Publishing Content
Free Research Poster Templates and Tutorials
Simplified Science Publishing offers graphic design services and data visualization classes. Click on the links below to learn more and contact if you want more information.
Content is protected by Creative Commons Copyright license. Website visitors are welcome to share images and articles but must include the Simplified Science Publishing URL source link when shared. Thank you!
© 2023 Simplified Science Publishing, LLC
Based in Portland, Oregon USA
Using Images in Publications
Many scholarly publications are enhanced with images, ranging from reproductions of fine art to graphs showing the results of scientific research. Including images in books and articles can complement the text, visually demonstrate the author's analysis, and engage the reader. Using images in publications, however, raises copyright issues, which can be complex, time-consuming, and expensive. To help authors navigate this process, publishers often provide specific guidance, including what rights must be requested, acceptable file formats, image resolution, etc. See Requesting 3rd party Permissions from Oxford Journals or Image Guidelines from Johns Hopkins University Press as examples.
The primary issues that you need to aware of when incorporating images in your publication are:
The right to publish a copyrighted image is controlled by the copyright owner, so each copyrighted image that you use must have permission or fall within an exception to the general copyright statue, such as public domain, fair use, or open access. Copyright permission fees are sometimes waived or reduced for scholarly publications; if not, however, they can be quite expensive as well as time-consuming to obtain. We recommend that you begin the permissions process early to avoid any last-minute complications that may delay publication of your work. In addition to copyright permission, some museums and other providers of images charge a fee for the production or use of a digital image from their collections, even if the underlying work is in the public domain. Like permissions fees, use fees are sometimes waived or reduced for scholarly publications.
High resolution images
Publishers will require a high resolution image for publication (usually at least 300 ppi). These may come from museums, archives, other collections, your own work, or suppliers of stock photos. There may be a fee assessed for use, the amount of which can vary significantly depending on who is supplying the image and how you are using it.
The cost of printing images can be substantial for the publisher, so be sure to discuss with your editor how many images they will publish, whether they will be in color, and whether a subvention will be required if the manuscript contains a large number of images.
Privacy and publicity rights
If you have a photograph with people in it, there may be privacy or publicity rights that need to be addressed.
- Susan Bielstein, Copyright Clearance: A Publisher's Perspective (2005) (article begins on page 19)
- Susan Bielstein, Permissions, A Survival Guide: Blunt Talk about Art as Intellectual Property (2006) (ebook - Georgetown NetID required for off-campus access)
- Lois Farfel Stark, Obtaining Image Permissions for Your Book: An Author’s Perspective (2018)
If you can find a usable image in a book or journal article published before 1927, it will be in the public domain , and therefore free of any copyright restrictions. Certain images published between 1927 and 1989 may also be in the public domain, depending on if they were published with a copyright notice and if the copyright was renewed. For more information, use this public domain chart or contact [email protected] .
Works of the United States government are also in the public domain and may be used freely.
Some museums, libraries, and archives make public domain images freely available with few or no restrictions. Read more in the Finding Images section.
Open Access / Creative Commons
Wikimedia Commons has a large collection of images that are licensed using the Creative Commons licensing system . Restrictions, if any, are listed with the image. It is important to recognize that if you use Wikimedia, you are relying on copyright information provided by the person uploading the image. You should review the copyright information carefully to be sure it appears to be accurate.
Many of the licenses in Wikimedia permit noncommercial uses only. The definition of noncommercial for purposes of the CC BY-NC license is, “NonCommercial means not primarily intended for or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation.” Creative Commons provides some further guidance on how to interpret the NC license.
Under certain circumstances, publishers may be comfortable with relying on fair use when publishing images accompanying scholarly works.
The guidelines in the College Art Association’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts set out the fair use arguments for using art for educational purposes:
PRINCIPLE In their analytic writing about art, scholars and other writers (and, by extension, their publishers) may invoke fair use to quote, excerpt, or reproduce copyrighted works, subject to certain limitations:
- The writer’s use of the work, whether in part or in whole, should be justified by the analytic objective, and the user should be prepared to articulate that justification.
- The writer’s analytic objective should predominate over that of merely representing the work or works used.
- The amount and kind of material used and (where images are concerned) the size and resolution of the published reproduction should not exceed that appropriate to the analytic objective.
- Justifications for use and the amount used should be considered especially carefully in connection with digital-format reproductions of born-digital works, where there is a heightened risk that reproductions may function as substitutes for the originals.
- Reproductions of works should represent the original works as accurately as can be achieved under the circumstances.
- The writing should provide attribution of the original work as is customary in the field, to the extent possible.
Your own work
If you have your own high resolution photograph, you may use it freely since you own the copyright in your photograph. If, however, your photograph is of a copyrighted work of art, permission of the artist will be required unless it is a fair use . Note that many museums do not allow photography of works in their collections, so obtaining your own image of a work of art may not be an option. While architectural works are subject to copyright protection, photographs of publicly viewable buildings may be used. 17 U.S.C. § 120(a) .
If your image does not fall into any of the above categories, you will need to request permission from the copyright holder for use of the image. You may be able to obtain permission from one of the sites listed in the next section, or you may need to request permission from the artists or their representatives. The Artists Rights Society represents the intellectual property rights interests of visual artists and their estates worldwide and covers works in private collections as well as museums and galleries. ARS has a request form for permissions requests. Note that ARS handles permission requests only and does not supply images of the works.
For more general information on requesting permission, visit our Requesting Permission page.
Museums, libraries, and archives.
Some museums, libraries, and archives have collections of public domain images available for use in scholarly publications. The content of the collections and the permitted uses vary among institutions. Many do not allow images to be used as cover art since that is usually considered to be a commercial use, and some limit use to print publications. Below is a list of libraries and museums that make works available with few or no restrictions.
- British Library - The British Library’s collection on flickr allows access to millions of public domain images from the Library's collections. Higher quality images, if required, are available for purchase through the British Library. For more information, visit the Library's Images Online page.
- J. Paul Getty Museum - The Getty makes available, without charge, all available digital images to which the Getty holds the rights or that are in the public domain to be used for any purpose. More information about the content of the collections is available on their Open Content Program page.
- Library of Congress - Prints and Photographs - This collection has over 1,200,000 digitized images from the Library's collections. Rights information is available for each image - look for the field marked "Rights Advisory." Many collections have no known restrictions on use. For further information about using the collection, read the Copyright and Other Restrictions That Apply to Publication/Distribution of Images . Information on restrictions on use by collection is also available.
- National Gallery of Art - NGA Images is a repository of images presumed to be in the public domain from the collections of the National Gallery of Art. Users may download— free of charge and without seeking authorization from the Gallery— any image of a work in the Gallery’s collection that the Gallery believes is in the public domain and is free of other known restrictions.
- New York Public Library - This collection contains more than 180,000 photographs, postcards, maps and other public-domain items from the library’s special collections in downloadable high-resolution files. High resolutions downloads are available with no permission required and no restrictions on use.
- Victoria & Albert Museum - These images of art from the collections of the V&A are available for academic publishing with some limitations (print runs up to 4,000 copies or 5 years online use). Read the full terms and conditions to see if your use qualifies.
Stock image sites
There are many companies that provide both a high quality image for publication and a license for publication. These sites usually have good selection of images, the images are high quality, and the search features are sophisticated. Licensing fees vary considerably and can be high, though you may be able to negotiate a discount for use in a scholarly publication.
For some of the sites listed below, the price will vary depending on which rights you need for publication: print/electronic, region of the world, number of languages, number of books, where the image will be placed (inside/cover), and size of the image. After entering that information, a license fee will display based on your use. The license fee is not automatically available for some images; for those, you will usually receive an email message after submitting your request. You should consult with your editor when selecting options to be sure you have selected the appropriate options for your book or article.
- Art Resource (license fee based on rights needed)
- Bridgeman Images (license fee based on rights needed)
- Getty Images (license fee based on rights needed)
- iStock (flat fee)
- Shutterstock (flat fee)
Artstor (Georgetown NetID required for off-campus access) is a subscription database that includes some images specifically licensed for academic publishing. These images are identified with “IAP” (Images for Academic Publishing) under the thumbnail image in your search results. Details of the use, including size of print run and credit line, vary among IAP images. You can view these by clicking on the IAP icon under the thumbnail image. The Terms and Conditions agreement displays when you download the image. Most Artstor images, however, are not in the IAP program and are not licensed for use in scholarly publishing. To use a non-IAP image in a book or article, you will usually need to request permission or go through a fee-based stock photo archive, often Art Resource, for a license. Artstor provides contact information for permissions in the "Rights" section of image information page.
You may also find usable images for publication on the sites listed on.
- College Art Association's list of image sources
- Georgetown Library's Copyright and Multimedia: Images page
- Georgetown Library's Images LibGuide
Images that appear on the cover of a book often require specific permission for that use and a higher fee.
The Association of University Presses has this statement on fair use and film frames in their Permissions FAQ :
You may use frame enlargements and publicity stills (both from films and from television shows) when you can justify their inclusion in the work under fair use guidelines—for example, when it can be argued that the illustration serves as a quote from the filmic “text” to illustrate a point. Be conservative in selecting material—if the still or frame illuminates a point you are making or is specifically discussed, then the use may qualify as fair use. Where possible, limit the number of frames reprinted from any one film and from different films that represent the subject of your work. If your use is decorative, you must seek permission from the rightsholder to include it. When purchasing material from a photo agency, read the conditions stated on the agreement and on the back of the photo very carefully (particularly the fine print). In all cases, acknowledge the original copyright holder. For a more in-depth analysis of fair use as related to stills and frame enlargements, the fair use section of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies website offers a number of policy statements and disciplinary guidelines that may be useful.
If your use goes beyond fair use, or if your publisher has a more restrictive policy, you will need to get permission from the copyright owner. Most major film studios have a licensing division where you can submit a request – MGM , Sony , Warner Brothers , Paramount Pictures , Universal , and Walt Disney Studios , for example. For smaller producers, you will need to contact them directly with your request.
Charts, graphs, and figures
There are differences among publishers with respect to what permissions they require for graphs, so a good first step is to consult with your editor on their policies. A few sample policies are:
- Princeton University Press - "Where a chart, graph, or table is being reproduced in a critical study of the work or to buttress an argument of the writer, no permission is needed. Data is not copyrightable. Unless there is a creative element to data depiction that is being reproduced without alteration, fair use can be asserted, with attribution."
- Harvard University Press - "Data is not protected by copyright. However, graphics like tables and charts are copyright protected if the data is organized or presented in a unique way or if the graphic provides interpretation of the data. If you plan to reprint a graphic from another source that is protected by copyright, please clear permission. If you plan to reprint existing tables and charts, adapt existing tables and charts, or create your own tables and charts that will not be subject to copyright protection, please refer to the following guidelines for credit: The standard way to credit tables and charts you are reprinting is: Source: Credit."
- Oxford University Press - "As a guide, you should always seek permission for: . . . Pictures (paintings, drawings, charts, engravings, photographs, cartoons, and so on); Figures and maps; Tables."
There are permissions guidelines that many STM publishers use in setting policies for the reuse of images from their publications. The guidelines include gratis permission for the use of limited numbers of figures/tables/images from journal articles or books, though note that not all members have adopted policies exactly as written in the guidelines.
Many publishers who follow the STM guidelines, or who have similar policies, provide free permissions through the Copyright Clearance Center's Marketplace so those requests are usually quick, easy, and free. The Marketplace system requires information about your publication and exactly what rights you are seeking. For charts, graphs, or figures that fall outside the guidelines, the license fees are often in the $20-$50 range, although that depends on many factors and could be higher or lower.
If you have questions about using images in a scholarly publication, please email [email protected] .