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Using a video or image in your research? This guide to assist you in SEARCHING and EVALUATING visual resouces

Your Librarian

Holly White's picture
Holly White
Preus Library

Research Helpdesk Hours Fall 2018
Wednesdays, 2:30-4:30
or email for appointment

Getting Started

The internet is saturated with visual content.  It is so easy to create, alter, & share such content that it is difficult to critically evaluate if an image or video is a worthy source to use in your scholarly research. 

Drake in concert wearing Hotline Bling sweater 2011

Just like with text resources, ask these questions when evaluating a video or image:

  • Establish provenance
    • WHERE did this originate?  
    • WHEN was it first created and uploaded?
    • WHO created it?
  • Establish validity
    • Does this photo accurately depict the event, person, or place that it represents?
  • Establish authority
    • Is the creator an expert or scholar in the field?
    • Is the source of this video/image a university press, a governmental organization, or other authoritative source in the field?
    • Who holds the creator or source accountable for the accuracy and validity of content?
      • user-generated collection (e.g. YouTube): low accountability
      • wiki-sites (user-generated with volunteer editors): mid-level accountability
      • journalism, literary publisher, or academic source: high accountability 
  • Cite your sources
    • Is the metadata (information about video/image) sufficient to create a citation?  If not, question the sources' authority 

This LibGuide demonstrates strategies for searching and evaluating videos & images.   

What about copyright?

This guide will largely recommend videos and images:

  1. in the public domain
  • "free for use by anyone for any purpose without restriction under copyright law" (
  1. that hold a creative commons license
  • "Creative Commons is a global nonprofit organization that enables sharing and reuse of creativity of knowledge through the provision of free legal tools" (

  However, copyright law DOES allow copyrighted material to be used in educational settings and in instances of "fair use".  

  • Creating a work product for a class?  You're covered.  
  • Writing your senior paper or putting together something to publish?  Be much more careful with the potential licenses or laws that surround images or videos you want to use.

See Luther College's copyright site for more information including an up-to-date FAQ page.

Content © Luther College Library and Information Services, 700 College Drive, Decorah, IA 52101 (563) 387-1166 Creative Commons License