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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Dance Resources

A guide to help students conducting library research on dance-related topics.

Where Should I Search for Articles?

The best place to find scholarly articles is in one of the library's databases. The University of Illinois subscribes to over a thousand different databases that can help you access the content you need. It can be overwhelming to know how to start searching, so here are a few quick tips:

  • First, it helps to know what you're searching. Here's some terminology to keep in mind:
    • Databases are searchable collections of published sources. They can be interdisciplinary or subject-specific.
    • Journals are scholarly publications that include articles written by experts in the field. 
    • Articles are individual pieces on a specific topic published in a journal. 
    • Indexes are lists of articles or other publications within a particular discipline or topic. Some indexes will include article abstracts and some will include full text access.
    • Abstracts are concise summaries of articles that can help you determine whether an article is relevant to your research. 
  • If you are looking for a specific journal, you can search by the journal name in Library Catalog Journal Search.
  • If you are looking for a specific article, you can use the Journal and Article Locator to find the full text.

Structuring Your Search

To craft an effective search, keep these tricks in mind:
Series of three Venn diagrams illustrating the different results retrieved by searches using Boolean Operators AND, OR, NOT. AND retrieves results for two terms together, represented by the intersection of the two circles. OR retrieves results for the entirety of the Venn diagram: each term on its own or both together. NOT excludes an entire circle of the Venn diagram (in this case, the circle on the right along with the overlapping section in the middle).

Boolean Searching: A search technique that uses Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT) to limit or widen your search.

  • AND narrows your results by linking two terms together
  • OR widens your search by bringing up results that have one term or another
  • NOT restricts your search by excluding the term directly following it. It's a great operator to use if your search is retrieving a lot of irrelevant results!

Quotation Marks: If you want to search for a phrase (like "hip hop dance" or "dance education", put quotation marks around it to keep your terms together. Using quotation marks will only retrieve results that include your terms in the exact order you specified. 

Using Limits

In most databases, you'll see a menu of options to the left of your search results that will let you further narrow your search. You can use these options to limit your results by publication date, content type (like performance reviews, academic journals, or magazines), and language, among others. Some databases will even let you check a box to say that you only want results from peer-reviewed journals (for more on peer-review and evaluating scholarly sources, check out the Is It Scholarly? tab of this guide).

Quick Tips

If you aren't getting good results, try to broaden your search. Once you find a promising article or two, see what key words or subjects are used to classify that article and try using those in a new search to find similar materials.