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Art & Design: Art History Survey Assignment

An online guide containing resources for students enrolled in Art & Design courses at LaGrange College.

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Arthur Robinson
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Survey Assignment (updated August 2019)

Here are some tips for Dr. Joiner’s Art History Survey (or Humanities) students who are looking for articles from scholarly journals in the last ten years for the annotated bibliography assignment.

  • Decide on your topic, or at least an artist or general area, before you start searching. 
  • Note different spellings of an artist's name (Brueghel or Bruegel) or different versions of an artwork’s title ("Venus de Milo" or "Aphrodite of Melos," “Madonna of the Rocks” or “Virgin of the Rocks”).
  • Ask the reference librarian if you need assistance.  (There will usually be a librarian available at the reference desk from 8 a.m.-8:00 p.m.Monday through Thursday, 8-5 on Friday.)


There are no databases specifically for Art journals (Oxford Art Online has useful information but not journals), but several databases that cover many disciplines including Art.  

To access a database, either select from the choices below or:

(1)   Go to the college home page (http://www.lagrange.edu)

(2)   Click on the “Library” link, then “Search Databases A-Z” under the online catalog.  (For this assignment, we recommend that you NOT use the "DISCOVER" search box.)

(4)   Select the database you want (e.g., "Academic Search Complete").


 Recommended databases:

Searching Databases: Academic Search Complete or Research Library

The first two databases listed above (Academic Search Complete and Research Library) are “general” databases that include both scholarly journals and magazines. 

These work similarly.  If you use one of these:

(1)  Click on the box that says “Scholarly journals” or “Peer-reviewed.”

(2)  Restrict the date to the last ten years (e.g., "From 2010"--the image below is an old one!).

(3)  Use single words or short phrases, linked by Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), rather than a long string of words (e.g., “botticelli AND venus” rather than “Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of  Venus”).  See the handout provided in class for details.  (You may also want to try truncation, e.g., surreal* to retrieve “surrealism,” “surrealist,” “surrealists,” “surrealistic,” etc.)

(5)  Note the length of the article to make sure it’s long enough (not a book review).  (In Academic Search Complete, you can also limit your search by length of article; or, under "Source types," you can select "Academic journals" to exclude book reviews.)

(6)  Click on the title and read the abstract for a fuller description of what the article is about (the title may be misleading).  Also make sure the article is from an Art or Archaeology journal or another appropriate discipline.

(7)  If there’s no PDF full text in the database:

·       If you have a “Full Text Finder” or "Linked Full Text" link, try it.  It should take you to the article.  (If it doesn't, please let us know; e-mail arobinson@lagrange.edu or use the "Ask a Librarian" function.)

·       Check the Journal Locator database to see if we have full text in another database.

o   In Academic Search Complete, look for a “Full Text Finder"' or "Linked Full Text" link.  If you don’t see one, we probably don’t have full text electronically.

o   If you have a citation from a bibliography etc.:

§   Journal Locator will tell you if we have full text for the journal for the date you need.

§  Type the journal title (not the article title) in the Search box.

·       If we don’t have an article electronically, ask at the reference desk or e-mail to see if we have the journal in print, or can order it on interlibrary loan.

(8)  You can also restrict your search to a specific journal (Dr. Joiner recommends Art Bulletin and Art Journal).


(9)  You may want to try the “Advanced search,” which provides more options (e.g., searching within the full text of an article—though this will work only if the article is in full text in the database you’re in).

Searching Databases: JSTOR

You can also try JSTOR, which has PDF full text for about 70 Art journals.

The advantages of JSTOR:

1)    All journals are scholarly.

2)    You can restrict your search by discipline, e.g., “Art & Art History” and/or "Archaeology"

3)   You can restrict your search to "Article" to exclude book reviews.

4)    You can search the full text of an article, which is useful if you’re trying to find information on a specific work of art.

The disadvantages of JSTOR:

1)    JSTOR usually has full text up to about five years ago, which makes it an excellent source for  older journal articles, but not so good for recent articles.

2)    There are normally no subject terms or abstracts, so you may retrieve articles that mention your search terms only once.

If you use JSTOR:

·       Do an “Advanced search,” and restrict your search to “Article” (to avoid getting reviews) and by “Date Range” (e.g., "From 2010").

·       You may want to restrict your search to “Art & Art History” (plus other disciplines if appropriate, e.g., “Archaeology” or “Architecture”)

·       Use quotation marks for phrases, e.g. “leonardo da vinci” AND “madonna of the rocks.”

·       To view an article, click on “Download PDF.”

·       To determine where in an article a word appears, use the “Find” function (“Ctrl-F”).

To download or print the article, use the icons for "download" or "print" at the upper right.

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