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ARTH 400: Criticism and Research: Theory and Method

Research process

  1. Which topic/question have you chosen (or think you might choose) for your research?
  2. Do you think your topic is too broad? If so, try answering these kinds of questions about your topic to help you focus. A paper is like a chapter in a book, so you need to think of it as a piece of the larger topic instead of trying to write the whole book in a few pages.
    • Who? Is there a particular artist or critic for a movement or style that you're interested in exploring more in depth?
    • What? Is there a technique or sub-movement that you find interesting? What is the situation for a particular group within an artistic movement, such as women, people of color, people with disabilities, etc.
    • When? Is there a time period within a movement or style where something new or different intrigues you? Was there a phase or period of an artist's life when they did something new or different that you might like to explore?
    • Where? Is there a particular country, region, state, city, town, etc. affected by an artist, movement, or style that you'd like to know more about?
    • How? How did a movement, style, or technique catch on? How has an artist's style changed over time? How does an artist achieve permanence if their art is impermanent? How does an artist evoke reactions or feelings in their viewers?
    • Why? Why did a movement, style, or technique catch on (larger historical, political, cultural context)? Why does an artist use a particular medium or change mediums? Why do critics like or dislike a particular artist?
  3. Brainstorm some keywords and key phrases based on your topic that you can use when searching for sources. You should have a variety of broad keywords and phrases and a variety of focused keywords and phrases.
  4. Which library resources will you try first to find your sources?
  5. Try your keywords and key phrases in the catalog, database, or digital repository (online database of primary sources). Read the abstract, summary, or snippets from the document(s) or article(s) in your result list. How do you feel about the results? Do they seem relevant and useful for your topic?
  6. Try your keywords and key phrases in Google Scholar. How do you feel about the results? Do they seem relevant and useful to your topic?
  7. Try changing the keywords or key phrases. Do you get better or worse results with different keywords or key phrases?
  8. Frustrated? Stuck? Contact me, visit the Research Help Desk in Tomlinson Library, or use the chat option on the library homepage to ask for help.