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Art and Design Department

This department houses degrees and programs related to the arts, from art history to studio arts to art education. This guide is intended to recommend resources and research techniques on becoming information literate in this discipline.

Writing about Art - Book Sources


Writing about art is very different from writing other research papers. You must first and foremost understand the terms and concepts surrounding artworks, like understanding elements of picture space, balance, emphasis, etc. Only then can you translate what you see of the artwork into a verbal discussion, using the descriptors as a tool in analyzing its meaning. Here are some guides to get you started.

Writing About Art - Web Sources

Evaluating Sources

When reviewing sources, it is a good idea to evaluate them to ensure your paper has the best information. Websites are most in need of reviewing before using in a paper, but you can use these criteria to evaluate journal articles, books, and other sources.

Source - Look for articles from scholarly journals, written by experts in the subject. There will be references that can lead you to additional books and articles on the topic. In some databases, you can limit your search by type of article -- a research article, an editorial, a review, or a clinical trial. Determine if a website lists its own sources. Often university domains are a good indicator of a trustworthy source. This is closely connected to the next criterion.

Authority - Use authoritative sources in your research. Use articles written by experts in the subject area, and who are affiliated with an academic institution.

Length - The length of the article, noted in the citation, can be a good clue as to whether the article will be useful for research.

Date – Research in many subjects requires the most current information available. Is the article sufficiently up-to-date for your purpose? If it is a website, check to see when it was last updated. Most of the time you don't want to use a website that isn't updated regularly.

Audience - For what type of reader is the author writing? If an article is written for other professionals, it will use terms and language special to the subject area.

Usefulness - Is the article relevant to your research topic? How broad or focused is the material?