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Art Research Guide

Suggested Search Strategies 

Whether you are searching for information in the library catalog, the library's online databases, or on the Open Web, an important first step in your research is think about what information you are going to want.  Do you want to know about a particular artist, a specific work, a medium, or even a period of art?  

Keyword Searching

Most searches that you are used to doing is keyword searching.  Keyword searching searches the words you enter into the search box across the entire record. Think about what you want to know and make a list of terms related to that idea.  These will be the keywords that you will enter into a search box to locate information. 

Using the painting displayed on the right as an example, here are a few examples of ways you could approach your search:

Botticelli's Birth of Venus

  • Work of art/title -- "Birth of Venus"
  • Artist -- Sandro Botticelli or Botticelli, Sandro
  • Nationality of Artist -- Italy or Italian
  • Art Medium -- Painter/Painting, Sculptor/Sculpture
  • Time Period -- Renaissance, 15th Century
  • Location of Artwork -- Louvre, Getty Museum

Subject Searching 

The advantage of the library catalog and databases is that people have taken the time to tag articles with a controlled vocabulary, so you can search for the subject of an article.  Subject searches may use single keywords or combinations of terms. These terms are carefully chosen so that all articles that discuss a topic can be found by searching for the subject, regardless of the terminology they use in the article.  

Below are a few examples of art subject headings used in the Mesa Library Catalog and library databases:

  • Art, Italian - 16th century
  • Architecture, Renaissance - Italy
  • Sculptors - England - 20th century
  • Leonardo, da Vinci, 1452-1519 - History and criticism (The dates are birth and death dates)

 

Research Can Be Hard, We Got You!

In this area we will help you get started with your research. Each tab above represents a different aspect of the research process. Each area has tips, websites and videos that will help you understand how to identify, find, evaluate and use information, particularly in the scholarly arena. 

Do you see the "Help Is On The Way" tab at the top of this box? There are additional tabs to the right and each tab has a different aspect of the research process with information that we feel you might find helpful.  

Please check back regularly, we are adding more content to this area all the time!

Sometimes Choosing the Right Topic For Your Research

Can Be One of the Hardest Parts of the Entire Process

  • At first you may want to brainstorm some topics until you find one that really means a lot ot you.  We have some resources, in the form of library databases, that have topics you may want to consider (you will be prompted to log in with your CSID and last name when accessing these resources).
    • ‚ÄčCQ Researcher which is a database that comes out with weekly reports on controversial issues
    • Opposing Viewpoints in Context is a database that provides many different kinds of resources (i.e. academic journal and popular magazine articles, as well as statistics, infographics and more) on a wide variety of controversial issues.. 
    • Access World News is a database of Newspaper Articles. The link in blue will take you to a "topics" page. Simply scroll down and you will see them listed by subject. 

Below are some videos to help you choose the best topic for your paper:

 

This Video is about the very first steps of choosing your topic, It is called Picking Your Topic IS Research and it comes to us from North Carolina State University Libraries


The video below is called How to Develop a Good Research Topic and it comes to us from Kansas State University Libraries

Once you have chosen a topic you need to create a "search string". This is a group of words that will bring the best results when you search for them in our databases or on the web. You might think you got this however really good scholarly searches can take quite a bit of thought to create. 

Using good keywords in your search box will give you the most effective search for retrieving your scholarly sources. The video below is called From Question to Keyword. (brought to us by the Lloyd Sealy Library at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice)  and gives a short overview of how to find the best words to put in to your search box. 


It can take time to find the best keywords and then it will take even longer to search for just the right articles on your topic. In the next video from Winona State University called Selecting and Using Keywords you will learn some additional techniques for finding keywords and how to use those words in a search box most effectively. 


If you really want to step up your search game it is best to get used to using "boolean operators" these are words in combination that will give you a more productive search by adding and taking away certain articles from your results. Interested? Take a look at the video below called How To: Use Boolean Search Operators brought to us by the newspaper database NewsBank

It's finally time to find those articles but where to start? 

We know that you are already familiar with search engines like Google that bring you free websites, some good for a research paper and others...not so much. Let's take a look at your options for scholarly work that will be accepted by your professors. 

Below you will find a video from our friends at the Monroe Community College with some valuable thoughts on Google vs. the Library for your college level research. 


Next, you will find a video called What Is A Library Database and Why Should I Use One brought to us by the University of Minnesota. It will help you understand why Mesa College spends so much time and money making sure you have articles that don't come for free off of the internet. 


Want to give searching a multiple Subject Database a Try? Click on the blue link below called Academic OneFile, you will need to log in with your CSID and last name. Then, put your keyword search string into the search box and see what the database comes up with (if this one doesn't give you what you want we have 99 others to choose from!

Perhaps you just want to use Google? Okay, here is a quick video to help you get a little more out of your Google searching for scholarly sources. Click here to see a short video.

On our Mesa College Library website we have a page called Cite Sources that has citation software as well as websites that will help you get those citations in perfect order! It Includes:

  • NoodleBib Citation Creation Software click here
  • MLA Citation Websites (below the video is APA Citation information)

- Below is a video about MLA Citation Basics

APA Citation Websites

- Below is a video on APA Citation Basics