This guide was created in spring of 2022 by MPAL GA Amanda Crego-Emley.
Welcome to the Music & Performing Arts Library (MPAL) guide to Finding Journal Articles!
If you are new to research at the library or want a reminder about how to develop a search strategy, read through the rest of this page. If you are just looking for some advanced tips to improve your searching, jump ahead to Structuring Your Search and Using 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:
Before you start researching, you should plan out a search strategy. Think about the research question you're trying to answer and brainstorm a list of possible keywords.
Taking time to articulate exactly what kind of information you need before you start looking will help you retrieve more focused, relevant results. To walk through the process of developing a search strategy, check out the example below!
As you apply these strategies to your own topics, try to brainstorm as many possible synonyms and related ideas for your search terms as possible. If you aren't getting good results with the first keywords you try, consider other ways of expressing the main ideas in your topic. If you are still struggling, you can always reach out to a librarian for help!
Using the steps below to structure your research can help keep you on the right track. Remember as you work that research is a cyclical, iterative process - you may need to reevaluate your search terms multiple times, brainstorming new keywords as you refine your topic.
Quick Tips: Keep track of the search terms you've used and the databases you've tried so you don't repeat unsuccessful searches. Keeping a research journal is a great way to develop your skills and ensure you remember what keywords and strategies worked and which ones didn't.
If you need help looking for background information, make sure to check out our guide to Theatre Research Resources!