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Last Updated: Apr 14, 2017 URL: Print Guide

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Research in 6 steps

  1. Schedule sufficient time to be thorough and take notes. Research is work and requires time, if done in a rush it yields superficial results.

  2. Use references materials to clarify your topic, determine keywords and survey its literature. It’s normal to begin with only a vague idea of what you’re looking for. Use references materials, such as encyclopedias and dictionaries, as well as online sources such as Oxford Reference, which contains various art and architecture dictionaries, and Oxford Art Online to get an overview of your topic.

  3. Use indexes to locate specific documents. Although these often do not provide documents directly, they will tell you what exists and where. Use the library catalog to find books in our library, WorldCat for books available in other libraries, the Avery Index for architectural articles.

  4. Study each document you find for its content and citations.  Close reading of the documents you’re using will help you absorb them better and think more deeply about their content. Each document is also valuable as a link to other documents. Look for citations, references to other documents in footnotes, critical passages and lists of consulted works (bibliographies, filmographies, etc.) These will likely provide the next set of documents you will want to study.

  5. Evaluate the documents. Look at ease of use; accountability. Does the document identify the author and publisher? If online, does it provide a web link  to the author? Can you tell what the author’s credentials are and if they are relevant to the subject. When was this article written (or updated), if it’s a website, do all the links work? Does the document contain advertising and partisanship? What is its tendency or editorial position?

  6. Don't forget to ask! When documents are missing, databases aren’t working or your searches aren’t turning up anything, ask the library staff for help!

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Get oriented

It 's OK to begin research with only a vague idea of what you are looking for! Use encyclopedias, dictionaries and standard reference works to clarify terms, and get a quick overview of the important issues of your topic.

Blaxter. How to Research, 4th Ed. (via Ebrary)


  • Oxford Reference Online
    The ideal place to start research: one-stop searching of hundreds of specialized dictionaries and encyclopedias in history, humanities and the sciences

Locate articles

Print magazines are still the best source for the images of contemporary architecture--especially for finding line art, plans, sections, and details. The Kappe Library maintains 100 print subscriptions; selected current issues are in the browsing area display rack. Other titles are available on request from staff. A collection of over 3000 volumes of back issues is arranged in the stacks in alpha order by title. See Periodicals In The Collection for a complete inventory of the print magazine volumes.

Locate books

Whatever library catalog you're using, always check the Holdings status of a book you are interested in. At the Kappe Library, books may be available, checked out, or held on reserve. If a book is checked out you can reserve it. Use your SCI-Arc i.d. number as username and also PIN. You will be notified by e-mail when the book is available.

  • The Kappe Library catalog
    Complete guide to the print-book collection, plus links to e-book collections
  • Los Angeles Public Library system
    One of the largest municipal library systems in the world. Have books from any of 72 branch libraries delivered to the one nearest you.
  • WorldCat
    WorldCat is the world's largest network of library content and services. Search many libraries at once for an item and then locate it in a library nearby. Please note: SCI-Arc doesn't provide interlibrary loan services.

Access e-articles

The following databases provide instant access to over 100 years' worth of articles from a wide variety of academic and popular magazines. SCI-Arc access to these databases is restricted to on-campus computers accessing the internet via SCI-Arc's IP address.

  • ArtSource (via Ebsco)
    A digital archive of magazine articles in the visual arts, architecture and many specialized crafts and trades. PDF articles have illustrations, HTML articles are text-only.
  • JStor
    A digital archive of almost two million articles from over 700 scholarly journals. About 4000 institutions and 500 publishers participate
  • Lexis-Nexis Academic
    The most comprehensive source for full-text international newspaper and magazine articles

Access e-books

To activate full functionality, these e-book databases typically require each user to create an individual user account--only a valid e-mail address is required. SCI-Arc access to these databases is restricted to on-campus computers accessing the internet via SCI-Arc's IP address.

  • Ebrary
    An online service providing access to over 60,000 e-books from over 425 publishers, including MIT and Princeton Architectural Press. You can also access these e-books through this catalog.
  • SpringerLink e-books
    A web shelf of e-books from the publisher Springer. Only items marked with a green rectangle are accessible
  • Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
    Authoritative articles on essential topics and thinkers, presented clearly and concisely

Access e-images

SCI-Arc access to these databases is restricted to on-campus computers accessing the internet via SCI-Arc's IP address.

  • ArtStor image database
    A digital library of images of art, architecture, the humanities, and social sciences. It also provides software to view and present these images for research and teaching within copyright restrictions
  • ArchiVision Digital Research Library
    Over 60,000 images of architecture, archaeological sites, gardens, parks and works of art.
  • Oxford Art Online
    Continuously-updated authoritative information on world visual arts based on the 34-volume Grove Dictionary of Art
  • Art Museum Image Gallery (via Ebsco)
    An image database of art and related multimedia gathered from the collections of distinguished museums around the world, including the Louvre, the British Museum, the Hermitage, the National Anthropological Museum of Mexico, and the Library of Congress
  • Associated Press images
    Up to the minute & essential historical photographs for download
  • Catalog of Art Museum Images Online
    An image database of works of fine and decorative art from leading museums around the world (including LACMA) from 3000 BCE to the present.

Access video

Map it

SCI-Arc access to this database is restricted to on-campus computers accessing the internet via SCI-Arc's IP address.

  • Simply Map
    An online tool to help create thematic maps based on vast demographic, business and marketing data

Research materials

SCI-Arc access to this database is restricted to on-campus computers accessing the internet via SCI-Arc's IP address.

  • Material ConneXion
    A searchable database of information about new materials selected from a wide range of industries

Scan the headlines from Architectural Record

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