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  • Choose an image that you feel somehow encapsulates you – something that you love, that you’re proud of, that scares you, that motivates you, etc.
  • Write a narrative essay, about four pages, double-spaced, in 12-point font, following APA formatting.
    • Purpose: Introduce yourself and ease into university-level writing.
    • Include an image reflecting an aspect of yourself (e.g., a passion, fear, achievement) and explain its significance in the essay.
    • The essay should have a clear structure (beginning, middle, and end) and include detailed, relevant descriptions to progress the narrative.
    • Conclude with a message or insight related to the essay's content.
    • Maintain honesty and authenticity in your storytelling, revealing the complexity of your character without portraying yourself as solely a hero, victim, or villain.
    • Adopt a tone that is professional yet not overly formal or casual, suitable for an academic audience.
    • Ensure the essay adheres to APA formatting standards, using provided resources for guidance.

Identify Key Emotions or Themes:

Reflect on the primary emotions or themes of your experience. Are you conveying joy, sadness, triumph, or solitude?

Example: For a feeling of tranquility, you might consider keywords like "peaceful nature landscape" or "quiet morning sunrise."

Use Metaphors or Symbols:

Think of objects, scenes, or elements that metaphorically represent your experience.

Example: If your experience is about overcoming challenges, you might search for "mountain peak" or "sun breaking through clouds."

Incorporate Sensory Elements:

Recall the sensory details of your experience – what you saw, heard, or felt.

Example: For a nostalgic childhood memory, you might look for images like "old playground in autumn" or "vintage toys in attic."

Consider the Setting or Context:
Reflect on the setting of your experience. Was it indoors, outdoors, in a city, or in nature?

Example: For a serene moment spent by the sea, try searching for "calm beach at sunset" or "seashells on the shore."

Use Specific Adjectives:

Pair descriptive adjectives with your main keywords to narrow down your search and find an image that matches your mood or atmosphere.

Example: Instead of just "forest," try "enchanted forest with fog" for a mysterious or magical experience.

Think of the Colour Palette:

Colors can powerfully convey emotions. Consider the dominant colors you associate with your experience.

Example: For a joyful, energetic experience, you might search for images with a "vibrant, colorful carnival."

Search for Actions or Movements:

If your experience involves action or movement, include verbs in your search to capture the dynamic nature of the experience.

Example: For an exhilarating adventure, you might look for "hiking trail reaching summit" or "waves crashing against rocks."

Link to Known Historical Events:

If your experience relates to or is reminiscent of a historical event, use key figures, dates, or significant symbols from that event in your search.

Evaluating sources

How do I identify scholarly resources?

Rules differ by discipline. Start with the general rules below and contact your subject specialist / Liaison Librarian for more help.

Scholarly sources are judged based in part on the following criteria:

  1. Authors: Check that an author is listed, that their credentials are included and that the credentials are relevant to the information provided.
  2. Publishers: Who is the publisher? Scholarly publishers are often academic, scholarly or professional organizations. If not, is the purpose for publishing evident?
  3. Audience: Who is the intended audience? Scholarly sources often use specific or technical knowledge aimed at individuals in a specific discipline.
  4. Content: Why has the information been written? Scholarly sources cite many sources and often include charts, graphs and tables. The content should document the claims being made and provide evidence to support conclusions.
  5. Currency: Currency may be important depending on the topic.


Scholarly sources: includes academic, peer-reviewed and refereed sources. These are sources written by experts in their field. Scholarly sources can be in any format including books, journal articles and websites.

Peer reviewed / refereed: An article that has been peer reviewed has been reviewed by other experts in the field before publication. Used almost exclusively in reference to journal articles.

How can I judge the authority and credibility of information found on the web?

Norms may vary by discipline, start with the general guidelines below and follow up for more specific guidance from a subject specialist / liaison Librarian.

  1. Authority: Does the person, institution or agency providing the information have the knowledge and authority to do so? Look for clear information about who developed the information, contact information, credentials or information about the organization or overarching body that supports the site.
  2. Purpose: Why is the information on the web? To inform, persuade, entertain, sell you something? Consider how the purpose may influence the information.
  3. Currency: The importance of this aspect may differ by discipline, it is especially important in the fields of health and science. When was the information written, has it been updated recently, are the links all working?
  4. Objectivity: Does the information appear to be presented with a minimum of bias?
  5. Accuracy: Is the source of the information (references) provided? Does the information line up with what you have read elsewhere? Is the author associated with a well known and respected institution?

Library resources

Check out all our databases!

Example: Warfare

  • Search different spellings: War* (for war, wars, warfare, warlike, etc.)

  • Combine terms: Warfare AND strategy

  • Search phrases: "Civil war"

  • Search equivalents or tangentially related terms: Conflict OR "armed forces" OR militarism

Example: Politics

  • Search different spellings: Politic* (for politics, politician, political, etc.)

  • Combine terms: Politics AND propaganda

  • Search phrases: "Political ideology"

  • Search equivalents or tangentially related terms: Governance OR government OR "public policy"

Example: Technology/Gaming Culture

  • Search different spellings: Tech* (for tech, technology, technological, etc.)

  • Combine terms: "Gaming culture" AND society

  • Search phrases: "Virtual reality"

  • Search equivalents or tangentially related terms: "Video games" OR "social media" OR cyberspace

Resource: "Developing your search strategy," University of Leeds

You can find a full list of other research videos on my YouTube Channel.

Locating and using images

We have many image databases.

Go to the library homepage > Find & Borrow > Databases, and filter the list to "images" (see below).

List of other useful online image resources: The Institute of Fine Arts, NYU


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Erik Christiansen

Phone: 403.440.5168
Office: EL4423C