1. Developing a Research Topic

Finding a topic

As art historians, we want the object to serve the starting point of any topic. To find an object, click on the ‘Courses’ menu and navigate to your time period. Browse the resources that have been gathered for you. Flip through ‘Exhibition Catalogues’, and browse ‘Online Collections’ by narrowing your search terms to objects that are relevant to your time period. Find three objects that interest you, and discuss them with your professor.

Building a Preliminary Bibliography

Once you and your professor have agreed upon an object, you need to create a bibliography on that object. If your object can be found in an exhibition catalogue, then that book will give you a starter bibliography. If your object has an entry on its museum’s website, that museum may also post sources. Gather those sources together in a single document that you can build as the semester progresses. Begin formatting your bibliography now, using the Chicago Manual of Style.

Requesting your Sources

It can take some time to acquire the sources in your bibliography so begin now. Below are some steps you can take when requesting books.

  1. CONSORT: If you are looking for a specific book, the best search tool will be CONSORT, the combined library catalogue of Denison University, Kenyon, Ohio Wesleyan University, and College of Wooster. When you find your book, click on the ‘request’ button, and it will be delivered to the circulation desk.
  2. OhioLink: If you cannot find the book on CONSORT, then click on the button ‘Search OhioLink’ at the top of the search results. This will expand your search to include all libraries in Ohio. When you find your book, click on the ‘request’ button, and it will be delivered to the circulation desk.
  3. ILL: If you are unable to find your book on CONSORT and OhioLink, then you will need to request it through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). The easiest route is Kenyon’s WorldCat site. Search for your book and click on the purple button labeled ‘Request Item Through Interlibrary Loan’. You will then need be directed to your personal ILL account, where you will see the book’s information populated in the ILL form. Double check that the information is correct and submit. The book will be delivered to you in 1–2 weeks.

Below are some steps you can take when requesting articles.

  1. Summon: Identify the name of the source (journal) of the article. To see if Kenyon has access, search for the journal’s name through Summon. If you find the journal, click through the provided links and navigate to your article’s volume number and title.
  2. JSTOR: Many online journals can be found on JSTOR. Copy-and-paste the title of your article in the search bar, and see if your article is available.
  3. ILL: If you cannot find your article through Summon or JSTOR, then you must request it through ILL. You will need to manually fill out the form by navigating to your account at this link. Click the purple button labeled ‘Create Request’. For faster service, be sure to include the journal’s ISSN number. You will receive a PDF scan of the article in a few days.

evaluating your sources

As your sources arrive, read them. Annotate your bibliography with brief summaries. You also will need to continually evaluate the quality and trustworthiness of your sources. As new questions emerge through your reading, write them down so that you can discuss them with your professor.

Finding your questions

Look back over all the questions that you have written down, and choose one (or two that are related). How might you go about addressing these question(s)? Figure out what additional research is needed and what other comparable objects might be beneficial to your research. At this stage it is critical that you talk with your professor to chart out a research plan.