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MUH 530: Research Tips

Research Tips Lecture

Research Tips


  • Start with Oxford Music Online, containing the 29 vol. New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and several other scholarly titles. Lots of cross indexing to related articles. This will let you get to know your topic before you do any further research. There are lots of lengthy bibliographies to scholarly sources. While no library could be expected to own all these sources (many are quite rare) you can get most of them through Interlibrary Loan.
    • Instead of looking your topic up alphabetically, look it up in the index, vol.29. The index will not only direct you to the main article, but also to related articles which you would otherwise miss.
    • This may be the single most useful reference source in music.
    • Also available is the actual New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (ML100 .N48 2001).
  • There are several guides to music research available in the library containing both advice and descriptions of useful resources. 
    • One good one is Music Reference and Research Materials: An Annotated Bibliography, by Duckles. (ML113 .D83 1997)
    • Another is MENC handbook of research methodologies, 2006  [electronic resource] / edited by Richard Colwell.
  • Advanced assignments cannot be completed solely with one library’s resources. Sometimes you will need to either visit other libraries, preferably university libraries with a graduate music program, or utilize ILL (Interlibrary Loan). ILL takes about a week and is free. You may order ILLs at the library’s home page.  Also available there are search engines for finding materials to order and ILL FAQ’s.
  • Keep track of your research. Write down each source you look in, even if it is a dead end. This will save you time in the long run.
  • Be aware of possible multiple spellings, especially when dealing with foreign languages. Example: For some online searches, “Barber of Seville” would not find “Il Barbiere di Siviglia.”
  • Research Guides (located on the library’s Research Page) – Research Guides are annotated bibliographies describing useful resources – both in the library and online – along with useful research strategies.
  • Get help from a librarian.
  • Don’t give up!

Complete four page handout of advice.

Subject Specialist

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