Step 1 - Find and develop your topic
Identify the key concepts and keywords for your question. Brainstorm and create a list of synonyms of the concepts. There are many resources that will help you find synonyms.
Step 2 - Determine what you already know
Incorporate your existing knowledge with what you have learned in class and from the class readings to date. Lecture notes, textbooks and readings will inform your efforts. You will have identified themes, concepts, people and events that may be important to your question. This process will help you to determine the best places to start your search.
Step 3 - Find background information
Read articles in subject encyclopedias to develop an understanding of the context for your research. Pay particular attention to relevant items in the bibliographies at the end of the encyclopedia articles.
Use the reference tab on the Visual Arts Program Guide to find quality reference works, or try a search inReference Universe.
The Summon search on the library's homepage is also a good "Google-like" search to help you gather background information. Summon will locate books and articles. Once you have done some initial background reading, however, you will want to proceed to Step 4 and find scholarly sources.
Step 4 - Find Scholarly Sources
- Use the Library Catalogue search to find Books
- Use the list of databases below to find Articles
Combined Databases (search more than one at a time):
EBSCOhost Arts & Humanities (includes art, music, classical studies, history etc):
Proquest Arts & Humanities (includes literature, philosophy, performing arts, music etc):
Periodicals Archive Online
Step 5 - Incorporate New Knowledge
As stated in the MLA handbook, "“Sometimes research will confirm your ideas and opinions; sometimes it will challenge and modify them. But almost always it will help to shape your thinking.”
Beginning with original thoughts, and being open to having these molded by new found knowledge in sources that you read is all part of the research process.
Step 6 - Acknowledge your Sources
Though this is the last step, it is one of the most important steps of all. If an idea or example has shaped your thinking, you MUST give credit where credit is due by acknowledging your sources in a bibliography. See below for more information on citing.
Style Guides and Citing:
The Library has created a quick guide to Chicago Manual of Style.
You can also access the complete Chicago Manual of Style guide online.
Interlibrary Loans / RACER
RACER is an online Interlibrary Loan system used to search for material and place requests. To access RACER you must have an account. To create your account, you need to register. If you have already registered, simply login. Please keep in mind that your University ID number is used as your login and your password is created by you.