Online Technology for Research & Insight

Research Blog 29 May 2015

Sourcing copyright-free images for reports and presentations

We're often asked for tips on how to spice up a presentation or report that incorporates the findings of an online survey. Aside from using the right charts and graphs to report actual statistics from a survey, reporting can also be jazzed up by using photographs to illustrate the subject matter of your research.

A Google search on "free image libraries" will point you at the many websites where images can be obtained free-of-charge, and these are of varying quality. The better of these (eg FreeDigitalPhotos) will often ask that any image reproduction should include an acknowledgement to the site and creator, either in a reference list or next to the image.

The very largest image repositories on the web are those that are attached to search engines (eg Google Image Search), photography sharing sites (eg Flickr), or copyright-sharing sites (eg Creative Commons). What many people don't know is that these sites can offer ways to filter search results so that you can separate out the copyrighted images from those that can be reused with modification or attribution.

In a Google Image Search, simply click on the "Search tools" button above your displayed results, and then select from the "Usage rights" list of options to enable a filter of results. You need to sign-up to use Flickr, but its search options then allow you to filter down to results tagged as Creative Commons photos available for various uses. Finally, Creative Commons itself gives a centralised and filterable search engine encompassing many sources of CC images.

2015 is the Demographix "Year of Presentations and Reports", and we'll be offering further hints and tips on beefing up your reporting in this Blog and our Resources Section in coming months.