Personal tools

Using images in your work

Why do we use images?

Images can really enhance your work, so it can pay to develop skills in finding and using digital images

Images can help to:

  • liven up coursework
  • visually support arguments
  • illustrate complex concepts more easily
  • demonstrate your ability to use a range of resources
  • show research depth without using up your word limit

Questions to ask before using an image

  • Is it free?
  • Do I need to get permission?
  • Do I need to credit the image in a particular way?
  • Are there restrictions on how I can use the image?
  • "Can I use that picture?" visual © 2014



The majority of images are protected by copyright whether or not this is explicitly stated.

Using these images for anything other than purely academic purposes is likely to be a breach of copyright and therefore illegal.

Using copyright protected images without permission could entail:

  • Compulsory removal of images
  • Request for payment
  • Potential legal action
  • Coursework being rejected by tutors or examiners


Copyright in films and TV programmes

You may wish to show video/DVD clips in your presentations. Cranfield Defence and Security has an Educational Recording Agency Plus (ERA+) licence, which allows the use moving images in presentations in the UK use only.

For academics this means that video/DVD can only be used for UK based student cohorts. The VLE does not currently comply with ERA+ authentication requirements and therefore any material uploaded into the VLE should be for UK based students only.

The Barrington Library has a separate licence for the recording and educational use of Open University programmes.  Anyone wishing to use clips from OU programmes in class should check with the Barrington Library that the proposed use complies with the terms of the OU licence. *Check with Barrington Library if in any doubt.

New copyright free for 2017!

LLNL Atmospheric tests 1945-1962


Copyright in diagrams, charts and photographs

These are referred to in legal terminology as 'artistic works’. The same basic copyright rules apply as print:

  • Provided copying is for academic research or teaching, and is not being re-published, a publisher or author is unlikely to consider that their copyright has been infringed
  • You could consider taking your own photographs. Copyright normally rests with the person who took the photograph unless it is part of a work contract.
  • Beware if you have taken a photograph which includes identifiable people in it. To avoid any data protection issues ask their permission before using it!


Copyright in websites

All material including images on websites is subject to copyright (just because it is freely accessible it does not necessarily mean it is free to use)

  • Quality websites often have a section detailing conditions of use. If they do not, it is sensible to apply the concept of fair dealing…
  • The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 was significantly modified by Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003 No. 2498 to define fair dealing

So what is fair dealing?
Fair dealing permits copying for the purposes of research or private study (and also reviews, news reporting and criticism) and is permitted only if it is for a non-commercial purpose.

Where can I find images?

Sources available on the Barrington Library (listed in A-Z Resources List)

Subscription resources:

[You could also use commercial picture libraries to find images but these sources will require a fee.]


Examples of free resources

  • Libre Stock (a multi search engine and covers 47 free stock photo websites in one place.)

NB: these will all be freely available for use after you leave Cranfield


Beware of illegal copies of bona fide TV programmes.

Try more official sources within it such as the following which provides video clips from current operations:


In summary…

Always give proper credit.

  • Always reference where the image came from and ensure you have correctly followed any guidance from the source website for that particular image
  • This ensures you give appropriate credit to the originator and the breadth of your research is accurately reflected
  • Harvard citation of various forms of images including diagrams, logos, photographs and cartoons can be found on Pages 44-48 of the eighth edition of “Cite them Right” by Pears and Shields (available at 378.18 PEA Ground Floor of the Library)


Further information

  • Help finding other sources of images

  • Finding and using digital images

  • Online tutorial – Internet image searching


All these sites are provided by JISC Digital Media, a service which provides advice, guidance and training to the UK's Further and Higher Education community on:

  • Creating digital media resources specifically still images, moving images and sound resources
  • Using digital media resources to support teaching, learning and research