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MUS 313: The History of Music I

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:

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

  • AND narrows your results by linking two terms together (a search for violin AND pedagogy will only bring up results that include both of those words)
  • OR widens your search by bringing up results that have one term or another (a search for folk music OR traditional music will bring up results that include either term individually or both together)
  • NOT restricts your search by excluding the term directly following it (a search for "Christian music" NOT "rock" can help you find articles about music in Christianity, excluding those that focus on Christian rock). 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 "string quartets" or "rhythmic improvisation"), 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.