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GASP 109: Image & Sound (Chandra, Spring 2024)

Search Strategies


  • Do I need background information on how social movements are represented in music videos?
  • Do I need criticism about a specific music video from an academic perspective?
  • Do I need reaction from a critic or viewer?
  • Do I need information about a specific artist?

Where am I most likely to find this information?

  1. background information ....
  2. criticism and analysis ...
  3. how the music video was received ...
  4. about the artist ...

Answers to these questions will influence where we search.

Thinking About Where to Search

Background Information Criticism About the Work (Academic) About the Work (At the Time)
Books  e.g. Reference Books

Journal Articles

Books e.g. criticism, from University Presses

Magazine and newspaper articles


Jstor image

Performing Arts

See Using Databases for database links OR look up a databases using the Databases tab in the search box in the upper right.

Scholarly vs. Popular - Key Characteristics

  1. Based on the graphic, would magazine articles be considered popular or scholarly?
  2. What do you think is probably one of the most convincing characteristics of a scholarly article based on the list above?
Peer-Reviewed - Scholarly Journal Articles


North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries, 3:15

  1. What do peer reviewers do?  How are they similar to or different from editors?
  2. Who are the primary customers of scholarly journals?
  3. Do databases only include peer-reviewed articles?  How do you know?

Identifying Your Keywords

This will depend on the information you need AND the search tool you use.  However, it is often best to get started with some keywords that represent your topic or research question.

Information Need, Example 1: I want to find out more about the context of Childish Gambino's "This Is America" video.

  • Keywords: "This Is America" AND context
  • I may want to brainstorm similar terms.
    • "Childish Gambino" | "Donald Glover"
    • "United States" | American
    • context | history | meaning

Information Need, Example 2: I want to find some analysis or criticism of Beyonce's Lemonade album.

  • Keywords: Beyonce AND Lemonade
  • I may want to brainstorm similar terms, if there are any, or narrow my focus to an aspect of the play.
    • Beyonce 
    • analysis | criticism | review 

STRATEGY A: Putting Together a Search

Now these we have considered keywords, how do we put these together effectively into a search?

1. Phrase Searching with Quotation Marks

  • Search for a specific phrase -- those exact words in that order -- with "quotation marks".

  • Example: "music video"

2. Using AND/OR - Connecting Words

  • Put dissimilar terms together with AND.

  • Put similar terms together with OR.

  • Example: "Taylor Swift"  AND ("music video" OR "all too well")

3. Use Truncation

  • Truncate a word with the asterisk * to ensure you pick up different forms of the same word.

  • Example: music* finds music, musical, musician, etc.

STRATEGY B: Using Database Functionality

4. Limiters 

  • If you are researching the reaction to a play at the time of its publication or production, use date limiters.

5. Subject Headings

  • Use Subject headings (controlled vocabulary) to create or conduct new searches. 
  • Start with keywords and then look for a relevant title.  Locate Subjects you can use while searching. 

Determining if the Information is Suitable

  1. Does it address your information need?
  2. Is the information reputable?
  3. Is it the best source for the work you are doing?

Research is a Process (Infographic)

Research is an iterative process. Instead of straightforward and linear, it is repetitive and cyclical. As you move through the steps to learn, you should modify and revise your strategies. Don't be afraid to return to an earlier step to reset your process!Research is a Process infographic; follow the long description link for a web accessible version

Long description of "Research is a Process" for web accessibility