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Search tip #7: Finding and using images for my paper or thesis

Published on
September 30, 2019

When you're writing a report, paper or thesis, you'll often use existing content. To prevent plagiarism, you must correctly cite sources from others. You also need to be aware of copyrights, especially when using (parts of) pictures, video or music, because this is often overlooked.

If you want to reuse materials, you first need to check whether they're copyrighted.
If you find copyrighted content on the internet, or without information on how to reuse it, you must treat the material as copyrighted. This means that you must ask the author for permission to use it in your work.

You may use materials without asking permission when the materials are not copyrighted (in the public domain) or they have a license that allows reuse in advance, for example Creative Commons.
Many websites and databases, such as Google images, YouTube and Wikimedia, have filters to find these materials. Check our page ‘Finding open content’ for more information.

Always remember to cite the source:
If you refer to an image in your paper/thesis/report/presentation you should make cite it in the text and include it in your reference list.

  • Format for the in-text citation: (Author, year, page number).
  • Format for the reference in the reference list for an online source: Author, A. A. (year). Title of image [Drawing/ photograph etc]. Retrieved from http://...
  • Format for the reference in the reference list for a printed source: Author, A. A. (year). Title of image [Drawing/ photograph etc]. In B. B. Editor (Ed.), Title of book (pp. xxx–xxx). Location: Publisher.

When you include the image itself, you should write a caption below the image with the in-text citation like this:

image 2.PNG

For open images, you also include the license on how others can reuse the material in the attribution. You can find information on how to give an attribution on the page ‘Citing open material’.

Include citations like these in the reference list at the end of your paper/thesis/report/presentation as well.