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ART 100: Art Appreciation (Harney-Loudoun)

Research tips for your research paper! Direct comments and questions to Eliza Selander,

Need Help?


For individual research help, schedule an appointment to meet with a librarian.

Goals for Our Library Research Sessions

Goal 1. Come up with 2-3 topic ideas. Identify at least 5-10 key concepts that interest you about one of these ideas.

Goal 2. Find background information to help you select your topic.

Goal 1. Identify at least 5-10 key concepts that interest you about your topic, and form your research question.

Goal 2. Identify at least two ways to get research assistance from the library.

Goal 3. Find at least two sources in class today using article databases. Save them so that you can find them later. It's OK if you don't end up using them in your final paper!

Goal 4: Use the citation tools to cite your sources properly.

Goal 1: Develop your thesis statement.

Goal 2: Continue your research finding relevant sources.

Getting Started with Research

Do you prefer taking notes on paper or on a computer?

How will you keep track of your research?

Do you have a few topic options in mind? If not, try the Gale OneFile FineArts database and click on Topic Finder or browse by field, medium, era, region, or occupation in the Grove Art Online database.

You can also search for "art" (or something more specific) in the library catalog or look through the bookshelves (also called "stacks"). Most art books are in the "N" section (library books are arranged by topic on the shelves). See more book ideas here.

Questions to ask to refine or develop your topic:

  • What do you wonder about this topic?
    • What might be the top 10 factual questions you would want answered?
  • When did this topic first occur to you?
    • Where were you at the time?
    • Which questions led you to this topic?
    • Which sources or experiences made you think of this idea?
    • Why, do you think?
  • What might be another way of phrasing or explaining what you want to learn or figure out?

Topic questions modified from Rea and Mullaney, Inside Higher Ed.

Once you have a general topic in mind, brainstorm 5-10 related search terms BEFORE you start your research. This will help you define your research question.

For example: Search terms for Frida Kahlo could include specific aspects of her work such as folk art or magical realism. Search terms for African sculpture could include related words or terms like mask(s)terracotta or terra cottasoapstone; Search terms can also include names of people, events, or places: while researching Street Art you could use terms like BanksyBerlin Wall, or Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Save what you find (print it, email it to yourself, or copy and paste information and citations into a document) and keep it in a place you can easily find it again.