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Social Issues & Activism: Visual Resources

Kimberly Braasch

Research Paper "Extras": Using Visual Resources

Visual resources include photographs (still images), film and video (moving images), paintings, drawings, cartoons, prints, designs, and three-dimensional art such as sculpture and architecture. 

Some visual resources are one-of-a-kind, while others are reproduced, such as prints or illustrations in books and magazines.

Images accompanied by authoritative information can be used in a critical context within a student presentation, classroom session, or paper that will not be published with out seeking permission from the library/institution whose digital archive you downloaded, as long as credit is given.

Authoritative: Able to be trusted as accurate or true.

Finding the Best Visual Resources Online

You are most likely to find authoritative information about visual resources when you use images from museums, libraries and library article databases.

ARTstor: This is an authoritative library image database for art, archeology, architecture, painting, photography and more; covers many time periods and cultures. Each image includes authoritative descriptive information.Quick help: Saving an Image from ARTstor

Note: Downloading images from ARTstor requires you to register for a free account. To access ARTstor from off campus you will ALSO be asked for your student ID number and password (the same as for MyPortal).

Guide to Online Primary Sources: Activism: A useful guide to image collections from UC San Diego.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Collection.

Museum Collections: A guide from UC Berkeley.

New York Public Library Digital Collections

What's "Fair Use?"

Fair use is a part of U.S. copyright law that allows certain uses of copyrighted works, such as making and distributing copies of protected material, without permission.

Want to know more? Check out Fair Use FAQs for Students

Google Images

Google Images is a great source for images, but it does not always provide appropriate image identification.

Tip: Use Google Advanced Image Search. Images from trusted news sources (e.g. New York Times) that include authoritative details such as the name of the photographer, date the image was taken, AND a description of the event pictured are likely to be acceptable.

Be prepared that you may or may not find enough information to use the image for your college paper or project.

Sources to Avoid?

Below is a short list of frequently used free Internet image sources that MAY NOT provide authoritative information about the images they reproduce.

  • The Wikipedia usually provides basic information about images in its articles, and often identifies the source.
  • Wikimedia Commons has a large collection of images that are licensed using the Creative Commons licensing system. It's important to recognize that if you use Wikimedia, you are relying on information provided by the person uploading the image, which may or may not be reliable.
  • Google Images a great source for images, but it does not always provide appropriate image identification. Instead, use Google Advanced Image Search. Images from trusted news sources (e.g. New York Times) that include authoritative details such as the name of the photographer, date the image was taken, AND a description of the event pictured are likely to be acceptable for your college research paper.
  • Flickr.comYouTube.com, and social media sites allow individuals to post visual materials. However, they do not always provide appropriate image identification.

The Takeaway: Avoid using images that lack authoritative information!

Questions to Ask Yourself

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I know the name of the person (artist, photographer etc) who created the image?
  • Do I know when and where the image was created?
  • Do I know anything about the context of the image? Is a description of the image provided?

If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then ask:

  • Does the image increase understanding of the material presented in the research paper or is it redundant?
  • Does the image distract from the information being presented in the research paper?
  • Is the image easy to interpret?

Example

For example:

[Figure 3. In the 1920s the urban landscape of Los Angeles started to change, as various developers began building multi-family apartment houses in sections previously zoned for single family dwellings. Seen in this photograph by Dick Whittington is the Warrington apartment building, which was completed in 1928, surrounded by older single family structures. Downloaded from the USC Digital Library in February 2016]

Can I use that picture?