How to Clean Up an Image for Your Dissertation

An article by Richard James Rogers (Award-Winning Author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management and The Power of Praise: Empowering Students Through Positive Feedback).

This blog post has been beautifully illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati

A dissertation is a paper that graduate students must write as part of their academic requirements to earn their Master’s or PhD. Some high school curricula, such as the IB Diploma, include some kind of extended writing task that is similar (e.g. the Extended Essay in the case of IB). The paper is typically based on original research to prove that a candidate has mastered the subject and its relevance in society. Therefore, it is an extensive research paper with comprehensive content, including images. 

Using images in a dissertation project

There are no rules against using images in a dissertation project. However, it would be wise only to use them when necessary. Images are particularly appropriate for visual art or film dissertation projects. Examiners can check the images in such areas to analyze your creative work.

Regardless of why you use the images, they should be clean and clear. For this reason, a background eraser should be your friend if you choose to insert images in your dissertation project. 

Cleaning up images for your dissertation

Dissertation images are unlike other images included in content writing. For instance, they do not serve decorative purposes. Instead, they are critical to explaining the content of the dissertation. So, examiners will use them to grade your paper. For these reasons, you cannot submit a blurry or low-quality image. 

What follows are some guidelines for cleaning up images for your dissertation.

#1:  Remove the background

You can clean up the image by removing the background. However, only do this if the background does not contain relevant information. Removing the background will make the focus object clearer. It will also declutter the image.

#2. Remove defects from the images

You can also clean up the images by removing defects from your picture. Such image defects include:

  • Blurriness caused by shaking of the camera or subject when taking the photo
  • Chromatic aberrations, like unwanted color lines around dark objects in the photo
  • Unwanted orbs in the photo caused by lens flare
  • Improper field of depth, where a specific portion in the image appears sharper than others

Removing the defects above will increase the image quality and make it easier to interpret. The cleaner the image, the easier you can portray what you want in your dissertation paper. 

#3. Remove unwanted people, objects, and text

Another way to clean up your dissertation image is by removing unwanted people irrelevant to the image’s purpose. Also, you can remove people from who you do not have permission to feature in your project. Additionally, you can remove unnecessary text from images, especially when using images created by graphic tools. 

Removing unwanted objects from the image will make it less “noisy.” This means that the image will focus more on a primary object instead of being too cluttered. Also, it may save you from copyright or consent issues.

However, while cleaning up your dissertation image, especially if you are an art student, it would help to be keen not to strip it of its unique qualities. Sometimes, the backgrounds and what you consider “noise” may be your image’s “it” factor.

Conclusion

When using images in a dissertation, it would be wise to consider the specific guidelines and rules. For instance, in the US, all images used in dissertations and academic papers must either be copyrighted by the author or referenced in the manuscript. The guidelines may differ depending on the location. 

So, researching the guidelines would be wise if you are an international student studying abroad. 

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Author:

High School Science and Mathematics Teacher, Author and Blogger. Graduated from Bangor University with a BSc (Hons) degree in Molecular Biology and a PGCE in Secondary Science Education. Richard also holds the coveted Certificate in Mathematics from the Open University (UK).

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