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Illustration Research Portal: Research

Choose Your Topic

A good research topic...

  • Fits the assignment requirements
  • Can be supported by research materials available at SCAD Libraries
  • Is interesting to you - it's something you want to learn more about
  • Has a unique angle or explores a key issue in the field

Can’t think of a topic to research? Get ideas from:

  • Your class textbook(s) and required reading(s)
  • Notes from class discussions and lectures
  • Up-to-date industry magazines and news sources - try Nexis Uni
  • A current issues database such as CQ Researcher
  • Online or printed encyclopedias
  • Your instructor or a librarian

See the Background Information tab for more starter sources.

Find Background Information

Sources that provide a broad, general view of a topic are a great place to get quick facts and ideas. Bear in mind you will not end your research here - you still need to use in-depth sources to complete your project (see next tab).

Starter sources include:

  • Textbook(s) and required class readings
  • General Google and Wikipedia searches
  • Encyclopedias
  • Dictionaries
  • Online reference databases such as CQ Researcher or Oxford Art Online

Search terms (or keywords) are single words and short phrases that describe your topic. Search terms are entered into the library catalog and databases and can be refined throughout the research process.

Find search terms in:

  • Your research questions: who, what, where, when, why
  • Background reading sources listed above
  • Bibliographies found at the end of books and articles
  • Thesaurus
  • Brainstorm keywords with your instructor, a librarian, or your friend

Finding too much information?

Your topic may be too broad. Narrow it by:

  • Time period
  • Geography
  • Population
  • Aspect (a particular genre or event)
  • Period/Style

Not finding enough information?

Your topic may be too narrow. Broaden it by:

  • Related issues
  • Expand the time period, geographic location, or population

You need to be very careful when using information found on the internet for your research. Because anyone can create websites, information on the web cannot be trusted. That said, the internet can be very useful for some things. Wikipedia and Google can be good places to begin research but they should NEVER be where you end your research. 

Virtual Library Resources

Search Strategies

Boolean Operators are words and symbols that group keywords in specific ways.

  • Group keywords together with quotation marks to search as an exact phrase. Example: “alfred hitchcock”
  • Use AND to combine several keywords or phrases. Example: “opening credits”  AND typography
  • Use OR to search for information about one term, and also articles about another term. Example: film OR cinema
  • Use the asterisk * if you want to search multiple iterations of a keyword. Example: sequenc* = sequence, sequences, sequencing