Skip to main content

Architecture: Research Strategies

This guide presents resources on various aspects of architecture including history, theory, design and technology.

Beginning Your Research

1. Identify and refine your topic through familiarization with the standard scholarly works in that area.

2. Review your research regularly. Modify your search terms to broaden or narrow your research as required.

3. Search related resources and additional databases, including those which may not seem closely linked to your subject, but may include relevant information.

4. Be aware of the nature and scope of the sources you are searching. Certain reference works only cover particular time periods or may not be comprehensive in scope. For example, many online databases begin their coverage in the 1980s.

5. Make the fullest use possible of reference tools, including bibliographies and footnotes that can lead you to other sources.

6. Read sources carefully. Note organized differences between tools.

7. Be creative. Try related and alternative subject headings to locate information you need.

Using the Syracuse University Libraries Catalog

 

 

Using the Classic Catalog

     The Syracuse University Library online classic catalog, provides access to most library resources.  SUMMIT may be searched by author, title, periodical title, subject, and keyword.  Other options like the Boolean command, and limits by date, language, and medium will help you to narrow your search.   You may need to try several different strategies depending on your topic. Do not hesitate to contact the Architecture Librarian if you hit a snag. Once you find something that you want to see, note where the item is located, its call number, and its status (available, checked out, in process, etc.).

Searching Items in the Classic Catalog:

Find Books

·     This category includes monographs, exhibition catalogs, museum catalogs, dictionaries, encyclopedias, dissertations, sound recordings, and much more. To find books on a specific architect or artist, search the name as either an AUTHOR or SUBJECT.  The artist is often listed as the "author" for exhibition catalogs. Be sure to look at catalogue raisonnés and architecture and art monographs; also note if you are looking at a primary or secondary source.

Find Articles

·     Periodical databases, including the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals and Art Full Text, may be accessed here.  These databases will help you identify specific articles in art, architecture and interior design journals.  SU Library does not subscribe to all the periodicals cited in our databases.  Try to allow enough time for delivery via Interlibrary Loan should that be necessary.

Find E-Journals

·     Use the Journals tab on the SU Library homepage to identify electronic journals to which SU Library and SUNY-ESF subscribe.  Journals, Newspapers and magazines available through full-text databases are included in this list.  In addition to helping you locate individual electronic journal titles, you can also use this locator to retrieve groups of titles that address a specific subject category, like “electrical engineering” or “political science.”

 

A Note on Periodicals:

     This category includes magazines, journals and newspapers, publications which come out in parts at scheduled intervals of time. They may be published annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily, or some other established period of time.  Certain magazines/ journals/ newspapers are available online. Each interval of publication is called an issue; issues make up a volume. Issues and volumes are identified by a number and/or date. Be sure to note this information when retrieving a journal from the stacks. Older volumes of architecture periodicals are located in the general stacks by call number. Consult SUMMIT by periodical title to locate the call number.  Current architecture periodicals are located in the Architecture Reading Room. Current art and interior design periodicals are located on the second floor of Bird Library by title.

Research Guides

Consult the following sources to develop and strengthen your research skills and methodology:

Art Information: Research Methods and Resources by Lois Swan Jones. 3rd ed. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt, 1990.  (Call Number: Fine Arts Reference N85 .J64 1990) This comprehensive guide provides a step-by-step guide to the research process.

The Craft of Research. Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams. 2nd ed.Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003. (Call Number: QL180.55 .M4 B66 2003). Part 1 serves as an orientation to the research process. The focus of part 2 is on finding a topic, planning the project, and locating appropriate sources, including those on the Internet.  Part 3 describes how to prepare an argument and support it. Part 4 reviews drafting and revising, and offers information on the visual representation of data. Part 5 discusses the ethics of research, and includes an expanded bibliography.

 The Modern Researcher. Jacques Barzun and Henry F. Graff. 6th ed. Belmont, CA.: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2004. (Call Number: D13 .B334 1992) While written for history graduate students, much of the text is applicable to any humanities-related scholarly discipline. Topics include note taking, how to use the library, and fact verification.

 A Short Guide to Writing about Art by Sylvan Barnet. 8th ed.  New York: Pearson/Longman, 2005. (N7476 .B37 2005)A basic introduction with helpful hints on organizing, writing, and documentation.

Preparing a Bibliography

  1. Choose an appropriate style guide containing format instructions and bibliographic examples. See examples below.

  2. List citations in paper copy as you proceed with your research.

  3. Refworks can be used to store and manage your citations.

Links to Citation Style Guides

Below are links to guides for the citation styles most commonly used by college students (MLA, APA, and Turabian) as well as other more specialized guides. Be sure to check with your course instructor to determine which style to use for a particular assignment or course.

Note: While the online guides contain helpful tips and examples, the print versions often include more complete information. Titles of print style guides found in SU Library are included below. Search the SUMMIT Catalog for specific location information.

MLA Style (Modern Language Association)

Commonly used for: literature, writing, arts, humanities

  • Citation Style Guide: From the Writers' Workshop at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
  • MLA: Citing Internet Sources: From "Online! A Reference Guide to Using Internet Sources" by Andrew Harnack and Eugene Kleppinger (Bedford/St. Martins, 2003).

Print version at SU Library:

  • MLA Handbook for writers of research papers, 6th edition (2003). New York: Modern Language Association LB 2369 G53 2003 . ARR reserve has the 5th edition : LB 2369.G53 1999.

 

APA Style (American Psychological Association)

Commonly used for: psychology, education and other social sciences

Print version at SU Library:

  • Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. (2001). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association BF 76.7 P83 2001

 

Turabian Style

Commonly used for: College students writing in all subjects

Print version at SU Library:

  • Turabian, Kate L. (1996). A manual for writers of terms papers, theses and dissertations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. LB 2369 T8 1996 . ARR stacks has the 4th edition.

Specific Disciplines and Formats

 Print version: ARR reserves has the 15th edition under Z 253.U69 2003.

  • DocsCite (Arizona State University): Generates bibliographic citations for government publications in a variety of formats.
  • How to Cite Electronic Sources (Library of Congress): Provides helpful tips for citing alternative resources such as films, photographs and recorded sound.
  • Harvard Guide to Using Sources: The Harvard Guide to Using Sources is an easily accessible introductory guide to use of sources. It includes tips for students on finding, choosing, and integrating reliable sources into academic writing. The Guide provides examples of MLA, APA, and Chicago styles of citation and includes information on avoiding plagiarism.

Further Research Tips

How to find information on an architect:

1. Begin your research by searching Classic Catalog  by subject (or keyword).

2. If the search is unsuccessful, go back and check your information.  Have you entered the name correctly?  Spelling counts.

3. Check sources like the biographical directories listed above.  An architect’s name may have variant spellings or be listed under a pseudonym. For example, Ferdinando Galli Bibiena is listed under Galli Bibiena, not Bibiena.

4. Check the periodical indexes.

5. Redefine your search.  Redo your search in the Classic Catalog and in the indexes.  Look for material on the time period, style of architecture, location or building type if you are unable to locate a specific source on the architect.

6. Check appropriate web sites. Please note few web sites include interiors, plans or details.

 How to find information on a specific building: 

1. The manner in which a building may appear in a particular resource can vary  from the information you have been given. Consider, for example, alternate building names.

2. In some instances, there may be a book devoted to the study of the specific building.  Check the Classic Catalog by keyword.

3. Remember, however, that only a small percentage of buildings have been studied in such detail.  By searching only for books on the specific building, you may be eliminating important studies on the architect.

4. Identify the name of the architect.  If not immediately available, check the Macmillan Encyclopedia index, a city guide or history of the time period/style to try and find this information. If successful, search SUMMIT and the appropriate indexes by the name of the architect to locate your material.

5. Anonymous or vernacular buildings can only be searched by location, time period, or style as appropriate.

6. When searching by location of the building or work, remember that in many instances the entry will be filed under location first (normally country, then city).

7. Book or journal articles often only show selected works by an architect. Look for books showing the complete works, or books devoted to a specific time period or type of work by the architect.

8. Check more general sources like architectural histories or books on a time period, particular style, building type, or location to collect information about the specific work.

9. Follow the same strategy in the periodical indexes, beginning with a keyword search on the building or combination of architect and specific work.

10. Narrow or broaden your search as necessary.

11. Check specialized resources like the Historic American Buildings Survey or National Register of Historic Places as appropriate.

 How to find information on a specific topic:

1.  Begin your search by subject or keyword. Keyword anywhere is a very broad-based search, which looks for words located anywhere in the record. The keywords visual notes will return all of the items that contain the words visual and notes in the title, author if appropriate, subject heading, table of contents, or publisher fields. Scan the entries retrieved by a keyword search and use the detailed record display to locate relevant subject headings.  The limited subject heading search returns a browsable list of items with the exact Library of Congress subject heading. It is a more refined search, and will return a more limited number of entries than the keyword search.

2.  Check related subject headings and topics to obtain additional information.  It may be necessary to broaden or narrow your search depending on the topic and kinds of information these searches return.

3.  This same strategy should be used in researching an architectural work, building type or style.