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Music Research Tools: Introduction

Introduction to Databases

The Library subscribes to a number of databases covering the performing arts.  While every database has its own conventions for searching, there are many common features shared by many of them.  Here are some typical features you may find across different products.

  • Searching is by one or more keywords as you would search in Google or other search engines.
  • You may target your search terms to specific indexes (e.g. author or subject, etc.) often through use of an "Advanced Search" interface.
  • Search results may be limited either before or after the initial search.  Some examples of search limits would be by publication date or by type of publication
  • Many databases have additional browse searching.
  • There are often functions to print or email results, create a citation, search for text within an e-book, and create playlists of streaming audio, depending on the nature of the database.

Evaluating What You Find

Be selective when evaluating what you find in a search.  Generally speaking, articles in scholarly journals (e.g. Journal of the American Musicological Society) may be considered more substanitive than more popular magazines (Opera News).  Articles found in scholarly journals that are peer-reviewed can be considered to be authoratative. This means that the article was accepted following review by a scholars in the subject area of the content.  Peer-reviewed articles contain bibliographic citations in the form of footnotes, bibliographies, etc. that back up the author's research and may lead you to further information.