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The Graduate Health & Life Sciences Research Library at Georgetown University Medical Center

Image Use

This guide will help you determine how to use images in both academia and publishing.

Organizing yourself

When starting the submission process, such as an article for example, please keep in mind that the permissions process is usually not a quick one. The recommendation is usually to give yourself at least 6-7 weeks to allow for responses from creators and for you to potentially find alternatives. However, this is not set in stone, each major journal provides author guidelines as to how and when to obtain permission with regards to their specific timeline. See the "More Information" section on the left to look at publisher specific guidelines.

In order to stay organized, create a spreadsheet for the images you want to re-use. 

The first column should contain the image itself or at least a description of the image.  

Next include the details about the image. Include information such as creator or publisher, the date created (if it has it), where it was from (a website or book chapter), and any other information you gather about that image. This will help you if you determine that permission is necessary. 

Determine whether you need to obtain permission for the image. If the image is found within a government site or it has an appropriate Creative Commons license attached, you may not need permission. Do a little digging to find out. 

If you need to obtain permission, add more columns to denote where you have looked. This will be helpful if you need to contact national or international collections of orphan works. 

-Lesley Ellen Harris How to Obtain Permission


The purpose of this guide is to provide resource and information for resolving image use questions. This research guide does not supply legal advice nor is it intended to replace the advice of legal counsel.