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Hilton C. Buley Library

 

Art Research (Art Education, Art History, Fine Art, Design): Basic Art Research

Quick Research Steps

  1. Define your topic as clearly and as completely as possible.
  2. Locate background information in encyclopedias, dictionaries, reference books, and online sources. For example: Oxford Art Online
  3. Search SouthernSearch for books.  Note the call number and availability for materials in Buley Library. You must sign in  (enter your username and password) to request materials from other CSCU libraries.
  4. Search the Art Databases and print indexes for journal articles available in Buley Library, online, and in other libraries. Locate reproductions and images.
  5. Use Interlibrary Loan (ILL) services if needed
  6. Document your sources

1. Define your topic

       Define your topic as clearly as possible. Before you begin looking for information, take some time to brainstorm your topic. Write down the main concepts as keywords, and then write down some synonyms for these keywords.

2. Locate background information

      Reference Sources (such as Encyclopedias and Dictionaries) present an overview of a topic and will also include links and lists of additional sources. Many reference sources are available online, while other paper volumes are located on the first floor in Buley Library and are marked with “Ref” before the call number. Here are some examples of art reference sources in the stacks and online:

3. Use SouthernSearch to locate books and library materials on your topic

 

SouthernSearch is the shared library catalog for CSCU libraries. Use the SouthernSearch pull down menu to search for books and collections, articles, ebooks and course reserve material. Take note of the location of the book and the call number. SCSU students can request materials from other CSCU libraries by signing in with their username and password.

  • To search for a book when the title is known, enter the exact title. If the exact title is unknown or not found, try a keyword search.
  • To search for a book by author, type in the author's last name, then first name.
  • To search for a topic by keyword or subjects:
    • Keyword searching allows you to use your own terminology and searches for these words in the title, source, and body of the text of each record.
    • Subject searching is much more specific and searches only the subject heading fields of the records . Subject headings are based on a controlled vocabulary that is often unique to a particular catalog or database.
  • Tip: It is often a good idea to begin a search using keywords. Then, take note of the subject headings being used in the records most relevant to your topic. You can then re-enter your search using the most relevant terms.

4. Search the online databases and indexes for journal articles

For a complete guide to finding articles see the Research Guide: Finding Articles in Periodicals.

The library subscribes to indexing tools in paper form as well as in the form of online databases. There are general as well as subject-specific databases and indexes. Refer the database tab above for links to the databases available through Buley Library. If you need retrospective materials from pre-1980's, then you will need to use some of the paper indexes in the library, for example Art Index, since it will lead you to citations of articles back to the 1920's. Ask a librarian for assistance with selecting the appropriate databases or if you are doing retrospective searching. 

General Tips for Database Searches:

  • Combine terms with "and" to limit your search. The search ‘impressionism and American' returns records where both terms appear. This will limit your search because both terms must be present in the record.
  • Use parentheses to combine 2 or more search strings:
    • (realism or naturalism) and art
  • Use quotation marks to keep words together as a phrase: “American Impressionists”

Once you have found the citations to the articles you need, the next step is to locate the articles. Some databases will include full-text documents, however in other cases you need to retrieve them from our collection, or from interlibrary loan. In our library, journals and newspapers are located on the ground floor (basement) level and are shelved alphabetically by the title of the journal.

5. Use the Journal Locator to access articles

Search the journal finder by the title of the journal to find out whether the article is available in full-text from any of our online databases, or if it is available in our print or microforms collections. Note that not all of the articles will be available in the full text format.

6. Use Interlibrary Loan services if necessary

If you need to request materials outside of the CSCU system, you may request these through the Interlibrary Loan department. There are forms available for this on the library homepage.

7. Document your Sources

Citing Books, Articles, Online Resources, and Information on the Web

       When researchers and scholars use books, articles, and other electronic sources, they need guidelines for formatting citations to those documents. Sometimes your instructor will indicate which guidelines they want you to use. There are printed style guides (such as the MLA Handbook or the APA Publication Manual ) available at the reference desk. These are some easy tools as well as links to more information about citing sources.

Sample citations from Chicago Manual of Style (A style chart from Purdue)

Noodletools.com

WriteCite:

Duke University : Citing Sources The University of Wisconsin-Madison: Writing Center Purdue University : The Owl at Purdue

Arts and Special Collections

Tina Re
Contact:
Students, faculty, staff, as well as individuals and community visitors are all welcome. To schedule a viewing of the Artists' Book Collection contact:
Tina Re, Arts and Special Collections
(203) 392-5597
Ret1@southernct.edu