ART 421: History of Roman Art and Architecture

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Art Librarian:
Mary Wahl (Woods)

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Keyword Brainstorming

Before you start your research, brainstorm some broader, narrower and/or related keywords to help with your research. These keywords can come from your own knowledge of your topic or from searching background information.

Let's say I am in the beginning stages of my research on portraiture on coins from the Roman Republic.

Keyword 1 Keyword 2 Keyword 3 Keyword 4
Rome coin(s) portraiture Republic
Roman currency imagery Republican
  commerce face(s)  


Visit the OneSearch FAQ to learn all about how to use the library's new online OneSearch tool to find articles, books and more. Or, watch the How to Use OneSearch video:

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators are words (or, and, not) used to connect search terms to expand (or) or narrow (and, not) a search within a database to locate relevant information. Boolean operators are also called logical operators or connectors.

It is helpful to diagram the effects of these operators:

Or Relationship Image

women or females

Or retrieves records that contain any of the search terms. It expands the search. Therefore, use "or" in between terms that have the same meaning (synonyms) or equal value to the search.

And Relationship Image

women and media

And retrieves records that contain all of the search terms. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "and" in between terms that are required to make the search specific.

Not Relationship Image

image not weight

Not eliminates records that contain a search term. It narrows or limits the search. Therefore, use "not" in front of a term to ensure that the search will not include that term. Warning: Some databases use "and not" instead of "not." Check the database help screen.

What's a Bibliography?

A bibliography is a list of all of the sources that you consult in the process of researching your work. It should follow a specific citation style (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.). Each citation includes elements such as:

  • Author(s)' names
  • Title
  • Date published
  • Name and place of publisher

The goal is to provide enough information for your readers to locate the resources you cite.

Citation Formatting Tools

Following are tools and resources helpful in managing citations:

Selected Image

C. Coelius Caldus. 53 BC. AR Denarius (18mm, 3.85 g, 10h). Rome mint. Retrieved February 26, 2015 from Classical Numismatic Group, Inc., WikiMedia Commons.

Recommended Reference Sources

These two online reference sources are great places to start:

  • Oxford Art Online
    Includes The Dictionary of Art; The Oxford Companion to Western Art; The Encyclopedia of Aesthetics; and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms.

  • Gale Virtual Reference Library
    Database of encyclopedias and specialized reference sources for multidisciplinary research. Provides searchable full-text e-book versions of over 3,500 reference works in a wide range of subject areas.

  • Sage eReference
    Includes over 80 online encyclopedias and handbooks primarily in the social sciences.


When you search for resources, you're likely going to find a lot of information... but is it reliable? You will need to determine this for yourself, and the CRAAP Test can help. Try evaluating the resource on the following five factors:

  • Currency - is it current? Is currency important for the topic?
  • Relevance - is it relevant to your assignment? Who is the audience?
  • Authority - is the author/creator an expert on the subject?
  • Accuracy - is the information supported by evidence?
  • Purpose - is it biased? Is the resource trying to sell you on something?


  • Most databases allow for a symbol to be used at the end of a word to retrieve variant endings of that word. This is known as truncation.
  • Using truncation will broaden your search. For example,

    bank* will retrieve: bank or banks or banking or banker or bankruptcy, etc.

  • Databases and Internet search engines use different symbols to truncate. In general, most of the Library's databases use the asterisk (*) ; however, the exclamation point (!) is used in LexisNexis. Check the database help screen to find the correct truncation symbol.
  • Be careful using truncation. Truncating after too few letters will retrieve terms that are not relevant. For example:

    cat* will also retrieve cataclysm, catacomb, catalepsy, catalog, etc.

    It's best to use the boolean operator "or" in these instances (cat or cats).

InterLibrary Loan (ILL)

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask the Library to get the book you need via Interlibrary Loan.

What is InterLibrary Loan?

Interlibrary Loan (or ILL) is a service provided to obtain materials which are needed for research but are not available in the Oviatt Library.

How do I make ILL requests?

Requests are made through the automated Interlibrary Loan System. See the Interlibrary Loan page for more info.

Can't find what you're looking for? Try using to find items in libraries near you.

What is WorldCat?

WorldCat is the world's largest network of library content and services. Think of it as a giant library catalog!

WorldCat lets you:

  • Search many libraries at once for an item and then locate it in a library nearby
  • Locate a variety of material, including books, music, and videos
  • Find digital items that can be directly viewed or downloaded

MLA Style

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is commonly used within the liberal arts and humanities. The Library has several copies of the MLA Handbook in print.

Here are other resources you may find useful while formatting your paper: