Research Methods EE

Using a range of methods to gather information

Gather information first from a wide range of sources, then begin to sift it into some order and shape. You can't begin to write until you have amassed a sufficient amount of information.

 Look for information in a wide variety of contexts 

  • information from literary sources as well as from newspapers, journals, websites
  • a recorded interview with an expert on the subject (primary source) contact an artist or curator!
  • exhibition catalogues 
  • visiting an exhibition or artist studio (primary source)
  • Film and video archives, podcasts, interviews, sound recordings.
  • talk to people, explain your interest and unknown doors will open to you

Students need to experience that research is not just googling the topic, but includes many ways of knowing

Use the internet judiciously

Googling something brings up many unreliable sources which you need to warn you students about. It is best to stick to tried and true art websites like Art21, Museum databases and publications such as newspapers like the Guardian, New York Times etc, Go to page on Secondary Sources  for a longer list of appropriate sources, and Web Resources Art History 

Use primary sources whenever possible

Primary sources includes seeing the artwork first hand, going to exhibitions, visiting sites, interviewing an artist or curator. The experience is not filtered by another opinion, i.e. a book or website.

Interview the artist/curator

If the situation allows it, talk to the artist, curator, gallery owner, this could be valuable primary source material! Try using these Interview questions on the Visiting Artists page and interview the artist by email.


Learn how to use an academic citation and reference method, such as the Harvard method. Go to Referencing and Citing Sources Be sure to reference any images included in the essay, go to page on Citing Images for some simple guidelines. The EE requires a full Bibliography so keep track of all sources consulted.

It is important that students understand and experience that research happens at first in chaos and that chaos is shaped with the series of decisions as the process of research advances. The start of any investigation is in the dark and it is OK to feel disoriented at first. The page Research and Practice explores this topic in greater depth.

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