Use and reuse of visual resources in student papers and presentations

Date03 June 2019
Publication Date03 June 2019
AuthorKrystyna K. Matusiak,Anna Harper,Chelsea Heinbach
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Information & communications technology,Internet
Use and reuse of visual
resources in student papers
and presentations
Krystyna K. Matusiak
Morgridge College of Education, Library and Information Science Program,
University of Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA
Anna Harper
University Library, California State University, Sacramento, California, USA, and
Chelsea Heinbach
Lied Library, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Purpose The purpose of this study is to explore how undergraduate and graduate students use visual
resources in theirpapers and presentations and what role images play in their academicwork. It also focused
on analyzingthe types of image use/reuse in academic work.
Design/methodology/approach This study was designed using an exploratory, qualitative
approach. In all, 15 participants were recruited. Multiple sources of data were collected, including
visual evidence, questionnaires and interviews. It adopted consensual qualitative research for data
Findings This study nds a prevalentreuse of images in student presentations but limited use and reuse
in papers.Images in presentations were primarily reusedas objects for engaging and esthetic purposes.Reuse
of images as a source of information was not common and in some cases problematic when students
were missing context. The type of use/reuse of images in the papers was more varied with examples of
creativeuse and transformativereuse.
Practical implications This paper contributesto a better understanding of how students use and reuse
images for academic papers and presentations. Results have important implications for teaching visual
literacyand re-purposing images in higher education.
Originality/value This paper analyses educationaluse/reuse of images along the data/object spectrum
and distinguishesbetween different types of image use and reuse.
Keywords User studies, Graduate students, Images, Undergraduate students, Academic papers,
Image reuse, Image use, Presentations, Transformative reuse, Visual resources
Paper type Research paper
Advances in digital technology have contributed to the abundance of visual resources and
their increased role in modern culture and social communication. Online users post their
photos widely on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram and Snapchat, where visual is often the
dominant mode of communication. Visual information is also an important component of
messages shared on Twitter (Thelwall et al.,2016;Yoon and Chung, 2016). Images are used
in professional, academic, and everyday life information practices as well (Beaudoin, 2014;
Ewalt, 2016;Harris and Hepburn; 2013;McCay-Peet and Toms, 2009;Yoon, 2011). Even in
some literary works, such as in Austerlitz, a 2001 novel by a German writer, W.G. Sebald,
Received29 September 2018
Revised7 December 2018
Accepted4 January 2019
TheElectronic Library
Vol.37 No. 3, 2019
pp. 490-505
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/EL-09-2018-0185
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
photographs intersect with words and play a special role in recalling traumatic memories
and reconstructingpast events (Pane, 2005).
Digital technology is not solely responsible for creating an image-rich culture, but it has
accelerated the cultural processes that began with photography, lm, and television.
Mitchell (1994) introduced the concept of pictorial turnand notes, the problem of the
twenty-rst century is the problem of the image(p. 2). Pictorial turn does not just refer to
the inux of images but to a paradigm shift in knowledge representation. It indicates
moving away from a dominant textualmode to the use of visual in creating, recording, and
representing informationand artistic ideas. The proliferation of visual resources has opened
new possibilities for teaching and learning in an academic environment where text has
traditionally been used as a primary source of knowledge (Elkins, 2007). Students have
many sources of visual materialsat their disposal. They are surrounded by images on social
media and on the open web where they can search using Google Images. Digital libraries,
museum websites, image databasesand news outlets are also rich sources of visual content.
With the click of a mouse, students can copy and paste images into presentations and
papers. The process is seemingly easy but poses a set of new challenges about reusing
materials from a variety ofsources and repurposing them in an academic environment. The
purpose of this study is to explore how undergraduate and graduate students use visual
resources in their papers and presentations and what role images play in their academic
Literature review
Studying image use
Information resources in the visual format are the subject of research in the eld of library
and information science but primarily in the context of image search and retrieval.
Empirical studies focus on studying user behavior in the process of formulating queries,
seeking images, and retrieving them. Visual information seeking is distinct from seeking
information in other formats, and studies in this area comprise a unique subset of
information behavior research (Albertson, 2015). However, research on use and reuse of
images beyond retrieval is still limited. Beaudoin(2009) noted that the actual use of images
after they have been selected and retrieved is not explored in literature. In the last decade,
there has been small but growing interest in imageuse studies. Matusiak (2017) analyzed 70
empirical studies of information behavior of image users and found that 15 studies in the
sample (21 per cent) exploredthe use of images in different contexts, while 38 studies (55 per
cent) investigatedaspects of image seeking and retrieval.
The early research on information behavior of image users was usually undertaken to
inform indexing and development of image databases. Fidel (1997) analyzed the studies of
user queries and proposed a theoreticalframework for characterizing the nature of retrieval
tasks. Images can be retrieved as a source of information(data pole), for example, maps or
medical images. Images can also be used as objects (object pole) for their illustrative and
esthetic attributes, for example, illustrations in history books or in advertisements. Data
pole and object pole represent two ends of a spectrum with categories in-between where
images represent both information sources and objects. The same image can be used as
information or object dependingon user needs and context of use.
Fidels framework has been applied in several use studies, especially those that focused
on user needs and tasks. McCay-Peet and Toms (2009) examined the use of images by
journalists and historians in completinga written work task and found that the stage of the
professional work had a signicant impactwhether the image was needed as information or
illustration. Chung and Yoon (2011) investigated the image needs of users by conducting
Student papers

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