Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Assignment | Art Mini-Research Sequence (Armstrong): Research

ARTS 1301, 1303, & 1304 Art History & Art Appreciation | Prof. Janna Armstrong (Fall 2021)

Find Popular Sources for Articles

Evaluate for: currency, relevance, accuracy, authority, and purpose

What counts: newspaper articles, magazines, museum websites... credible sources but not scholarly. Random blogs do not count! Really take a look at who is producing the information and whether or not they've given you any reason to trust them.

Do not use:

  • Pretty much any [artist name].org website, like or (The tutorial from the Getting Started page gets into why.)
    • There a couple other variations with a .net or .com ending -- same kind of site, same low credibility. Remember the evaluation strategy from the tutorial!
  • Wikipedia or Encyclopedia Britannica: too casual.
  • Websites targeted at kids. Check the url -- is there a .../kids/... in there, or a .../grades5-8/... or something? Does the webpage itself actually say "for Kids" on it? Are there cartoons or games alongside the information?
  • Blogs.

How about videos?

Documentaries are often credible! Not scholarly, but credible. These would count towards your "internet sources" or "popular sources" in the first two assignments.

Make Google Work Harder

Rather than browsing or even using the in-site search on any of the above, you can make Google work harder for you. Just name the site in your search to limit your results to that page! You can also limit to a particular domain, like only .edu sources, in the same way.

Try it below:

Google Web Search

Look for Scholarly Articles

Best Bets:

JSTOR and Project MUSE are exclusively scholarly -- but make sure you're not using anything labeled a "review' (i.e. a book review, which is a tertiary source and not what you're looking for). Back Matter and Front Matter can also be safely ignored.

What does a scholarly article look like?

Also Try:

Depending on what info you're trying to tackle, different subject-area databases may be helpful -- e.g. Van Gogh's well-known struggles with mental illness could warrant a trip into Psych & Behavioral Sciences Collection.

I've given a few starting points, but you may also want to explore the larger lists of databases for more options.

Be sure to look for the checkboxes for "full text" and "scholarly (peer-reviewed)" in these!

Accessing the Databases

Access 100+ databases organized by subject area from the Research Databases page. Also try our dynamic, sortable database list!

Student ID BadgeTo access the databases locked icon (same icon that displays by the LSC-limited access resources) from off-campus, you must provide the 14-digit library barcode.

Don't have one yet? Request a barcode number online.

What Is Google Scholar?

Google Scholar is sort of like Google's version of our research databases in that it indexes scholarly content, making it easier to pick out than if you did a normal Google Search.

Google comparison

Pictured above are the first few results for the search "psychology children television." On the left are results from Google Scholar, and on the right, normal Google. You'll notice that the regular results include a section at the very top identifying some of the scholarly articles; clicking here will take you over to the Google Scholar results page.

Google Scholar Google
757,000 results 50,900,000 results (more!)
Scholarly articles "Popular" articles - news, blogs, magazines, etc
Full-text may or may not be available Full-text of web articles generally available



What about books? Are books scholarly?

They can be! Note that a scholarly book is not just any old nonfiction title, but they can be a little harder to distinguish sometimes.

  • Was it published by a university (e.g. Oxford University Press, University of North Carolina Press)? Pretty good odds that it's scholarly.
  • Does it have citations, both in-text and at the end? (It could use footnotes... but the important thing is all the information is very clearly documented as to its original source.)
  • Who's the author? If they're a PhD in the topic of discussion (i.e. an expert), again, it's pretty good odds they've written something scholarly... but still pay attention to the style (is it formal or fun and friendly? again, are there thorough citations?).


Wait, I have to read books? aka: I'm not reading books, I'm going to fake it.

You are not actually expected to read entire books for research!  Wait, keep reading, this is important!

Generally speaking, for most of the research you're doing at this lower-division undergrad level, you're reading to get information on your topic with enough context to not misrepresent anything. It is natural to not read a book cover-to-cover in this context.

That said, you need to use books that you reasonably have access to the content of. So you didn't read them, but you could have, and you aren't just going off the summary from the publisher. Good news! There's all kinds of library e-book collections that allow you to do just that for free -- and you can even "search inside" to skip around to the most interesting parts.

Search for the name of the piece you’re researching (if it’s a famous one) and/or the artist’s name to find related ebooks. Relevant subject terms include:

How can I get paper books?

You can search the library catalog (below) with keyword, title, author, etc -- pretty much like using Amazon. (The catalog also finds most of our e-books, but it's still a good idea to search those collections directly.)

COVID update: Many of the campuses are doing item pick-up now! The Harris County Public Library branches are, too. You can request books be sent to an HCPL branch near you (Barbara Bush is the closest location to campus) for curbside pick-up. Tomball is the closest campus to UP, and their library has a drive-through. Return items to a contactless item return drop at the library.

You are on a bit of a deadline, so you want to be sure you can get a book your want on time!

  1. Click into the book to see how many copies there are, and whether anyone else has a hold ahead of you. If there's one copy and 3 people waiting, it could be 6 weeks before it's your turn.
  2. If all looks good, click "Place Hold" to request the book. You'll have to sign in with your library barcode number (2313660xxxxxxx) and 4-digit PIN, typically the last 4 numbers of the phone number you provided when you had your ID card made. You can choose which location the book is sent to (caveat: it can take 3-5 business days!).
  3. You'll receive an email when your item is ready for you to pick up.

If you really want a book and don't have time to wait for it, call the library that has a copy, ask them to verify it's there, and they'll usually pull the book for you, just like placing a hold through the catalog. Then drive over to that library to get it -- but definitely call before committing to the drive!

Not sure if you have a library account or what your PIN is? Contact our front desk at

Do not use:

  • Children's books, YA, Juvenile Nonfiction
    • Does it have pictures, and not just of the art? Not a good sign.
    • If you're uncertain, look the book up on Amazon to see how they categorize it. If it's got an age group -- especially one that's younger than college age -- move on to a new source.
  • Coffee table books
    • Or at least, not more than one. A catalog of high-quality images of an artist's work can be useful, but we do want to focus on information this assignment. Don't have more than one "photo gallery" source, if at all, and make it a good one if you do. Maybe the works are chronological and that's helpful because...  or they're thematically arranged (and that's helpful because...).