Search Strategy

Choosing which words to use is an important piece of the research process. If you use too many search terms you may get no results in your search at all. If you don't use enough terms you may get more results then you can possibly make sense of.

  • Use synonyms and related terms to expand your search. 
  • For a more refined search leave out articles like, the, and, if, or, and a.
  • If you receive too many results in your search (over 100) try adding concepts or related terms to narrow down your results to more relevant materials.
  • If you receive too few results try expanding your search by using less words. 
It can be helpful and save time in the long run to take a few moments before you begin searching to sketch out possible search terms and search term combinations. 

Finding Books

  1. To find a book on your topic, use the default keyword search in the COA Library Catalog.
  2. Click on the title of the record you want to see and follow the subject headings links for more books on the same topic.

Tip:  To locate books on particular artists, you should search the online catalog by subject using the individual's  last name as the subject. (e.g “Picasso, Pablo".)   

Finding Articles

Articles are found in databases (subscription search engines), that index newspapers, magazines, encyclopedias, biographies, and academic journals. The information you can find in databases is paid for by the college and not available on the general Internet.

COA Databases for Artist and Art Works Research:
  • Oxford Art Online: online encyclopedia for the visual arts covering from prehistory to present day. Includes artist biographies, overview of art forms, time periods, styles, cultures and geography. 
  • Academic Search Premier: full-text articles and/or indexing for over 3,500 scholarly journals spanning 20 years and covering all subject areas.
  • Biography Resource Center: biographies of both current and historic people from hundreds of magazines and newspapers, as well as tens of thousands of images and links to vetted websites. 
  • Ethnic NewsWatch:  full-text articles from newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press. 
  • Expanded Academic ASAP:  full-text articles and/or indexing for over 3,500 magazines and journals spanning the last twenty years and covering all subject areas. 
Important:  To view databases from home you will need a password. Bring your student ID to the reference desk at the COA library and the librarian there will provide you with the passwords to access article databases from home. When you are on campus you will not need a password to access the databases.