THE RESEARCH PROCESS: A GUIDE
Compiled by Kathryn Wayne, Fine Arts Librarian, 2002, revised January 2005
University of California, Berkeley
An excellent research paper is generally the result of being able to pinpoint numerous sources that may exist on a particular topic. The following basic steps describe an effective research strategy that will lead to finding the key sources for any topic.
DETERMINE A TOPIC. If your topic is too broad, you will find too many sources. If it is too narrow, you will find very little information. If at all possible, try to discuss your topic with your GSI or professor prior to beginning the research process. When you have evaluated several of the basic sources recommended, it is always a good idea to REFINE YOUR TOPIC mid-way through the research process, by clarifying the scope or depth of the subject you are doing research on.
STANDARDIZE NOTE-TAKING. Most students who are doing research for a paper consult various sources and often, half-way through the research process, forget which sources they've used, or have forgotten to take down important information such as dates, pages, and are never able to locate the source again. To save time, keep consistent notes about sources in one place. Consider using bibliographic software such as Endnote.
EXAMINE STANDARD HISTORICAL TEXTS. A general text such as Janson’s History of Art can provide good overviews that cover many periods and artists. Bibliographies are also usually contained at the end of each chapter. Footnotes citing additional publications can also be useful.
CONSULT AN ENCYCLOPEDIA. A general (Encyclopedia Britannica) or subject-specific (Grove Art Online) encyclopedia can provide an excellent overview of a topic, and often provide historical context. Encyclopedia articles are written by notable scholars in the field, and often contain excellent bibliographies which will lead to additional sources.
DICTIONARIES (general or subject-specific) can be useful for tracking down unknown or obscure words and terms, and for related terms.
FINDING A COMPREHENSIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY published on your subject will give you access to lists of books and/or journal articles already gathered by another researcher. A bibliography is a compilation of resources written on a particular topic, or artist.
CATALOGUES RAISONNÉS present the complete works of an artist, often accompanied by a comprehensive bibliography.
SEARCH FOR BOOKS using OskiCat (online catalog for UCB only) or MELVYL (Online catalog for all UC campuses and more). Search by author, title, or subject. Use the personal author command in OskiCat when searching for artists.
ART-RELATED PERIODICAL INDEXES lead to articles in the journal literature. Once you have identified a list of articles, check the Library's journal holdings in OskiCat using the title command in Advanced Search and limit by publication format “Journals/Magazines/Newspapers” in the box named "Books or Journals". The following periodical indexes are located on the Art History/Classics Library home page under Art History Resources / Art Indexes.
ADDITIONAL REFERENCE SOURCES
Art Index Retrospective & Art Full Text
Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals
Bibliography of the History of Art
RESEARCH GUIDES: ART-RELATED
BIOGRAPHICAL SOURCES should be consulted for information on names discovered in your search. Specialized materials concentrate on biographies of famous people according to gender, geographic area, ethnic background, occupation, etc. Some have excellent bibliographies and lists of an artist's works.
BOOK REVIEWS written by authorities in the field can help evaluate scholarship.
DISSERTATIONS are indexed by subject and are available through interlibrary loan or purchase if not in the UCB Library.
EXHIBITION CATALOGS are indexed by author, subject, and artist in OskiCat and MELVYL.
PRIMARY SOURCES represent first-hand accounts, such as oral histories, personal interviews, an artist's archives, etc. The Bancroft Library, the Berkeley Art Museum, local art museums are excellent sources for finding original source material. Use the RLG Union Catalog to find artist archives nationally.
VIDEOS can provide documentaries on artists and can be viewed in the Media Resources Center, Moffitt Library.
INTERNET resources can be useful, but should not be relied upon as a sole-source for research, especially in the field of art history.
Marmor, Max and Alex Ross. Guide to the Literature of Art History 2. Chicago: American Library Association, 2005.
N380.A12.M3 2005 Art History/Classics Library & Doe Reference
Barnet, Sylvan. A Short Guide to Writing About Art. 7th ed. New York: Longman, 2003.
N7476.B37.2003 Moffitt Library
Jones, Lois Swan. Art Information: Research Methods and Resources. 3rd ed. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt 1990.
N85.J64 1990 Art History/Classics Library Reference
RESEARCH GUIDES: GENERAL
Bolner, Myrtle S. The Research Process: Books and Beyond. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt, 1997. ZA3060.B655.1997 Gardner Stacks/Doe Library
Goldman, Bernard. Reading and Writing in the Arts. Rev. ed. Detroit: Wayne State Univ. Press, 1978.
N7425.A12.G6.1978 Doe Reference
Mann, Thomas. A Guide to Library Research Methods. NY: Oxford University Press, 1987. Z710.M231.1987 Gardner Stacks/Doe Library
Metter, Ellen. The Writer’s Ultimate Research Guide. Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer’s Digest Books, 1995. PN146.M47.1995 Gardner Stacks/Doe Library
Atchert, Walter S. The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. 2nd ed. NY: Modern Language Association of America, 1998. PN147.G444.1998 Doe Reference
Chicago Manual of Style. 15th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003. PE1408.U69.2003 Doe Library
Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. New York: Modern Language Association, 2003. LB2369.G53.2003 Doe Reference
To cite web and email related sources search Google under "how to cite the web".
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Last updated 11/04/13