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Doing Research in Music: 4. Gathering Sources

Step by Step guide to Writing a Research Paper in Music

Basic Search Tips

AND, NOT (in capital letters)

AND = A + B 
NOT = A - B

* [shift +8] at the end of a word or word fragment, for all possible endings

Music* = music, musical, musician, musicians, musicality, musicals,... 

"quotation marks" for an exact phrase. 

For EXACT phrases like titles or names. Careful, typos might result in a failed search.

"Maria Callas" AND Aida = 729 results
"Maria Calls" AND Aida = 3 results 

Research Resource Basics

Here's some information about some resources you may not have a lot of experience with: 

Encyclopedias / Encyclopedic Dictionaries

Great place to get started with basic information on a research topic. Use the bibliographies of each entry to move you further!

Articles are in Journals, Journals are found in Databases. 

Articles = very specific research on a topic

Journals = contain a broad spectrum of articles within a research area

Databases = websites that hold a variety of journals on the same subject 


Like a book, but online! Ebooks found in our collection are of the same quality as those found on the shelves. 

Citation Managers

Tools like Mendeley, Zotero, and Readcube can help you in managing the many sources you'll be working with. Here's a guide on reference managers, and if you want more training on using one, or simply want to talk about why you would use one, please make an appointment with the music librarian!