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Topical Guides: Art Research

Art Research > 4: Supporting Data, Documents & Artifacts

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4A: Types of Resources

Data (such as facts or statistics), documents, artifacts (objects) and biographical information related to your topic will provide support, evidence or credence to your research thesis or claims. The best source for your project will depend on what type of information you are researching. For example, biographical information provides context to a subject's life. Data and statistics illustrate trends or provide support for ideas. Artifacts provide visual evidence for your findings.

It is important to distinguish between the two basic types of information: primary sources and secondary sources. Primary sources are from the time period you are researching (from the historical context). These sources can include artifacts, statistics, autobiographies or newspapers. Primary sources often form the foundation for a research project. Examples are: American costumes from 1950, drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, ballets and operas (experiences or viewed on tape), correspondence to and from Shakespeare, etc.

Secondary sources may also form a foundation for research, but more often these sources provide additional support for your ideas. They include Web pages, articles, or contemporary books. The key distinction between primary and secondary sources is that secondary sources interpret primary sources. Textbooks, biographies, and book reviews are good examples of secondary sources.

4B: Examples


References to sites on the Web that provide online images of museum quality art. Searchable by artist or browsable by movement, medium, subject or nationality.

Archives of American Art

Digitized collections from the Smithsonian's Archives.

Web Gallery of Art

A searchable virtual museum of Western European fine arts from time periods in the 1000 to 1900 range. Contains over 30,000 reproductions.

Dictionary of Art Historians

A resource to learn about western art historians.

Ubu Web

Ubu Web is an online source "dedicated to all strains of the avant-garde, ethnopoetics, and outsider arts" and includes an extensive archive of avant-garde film and video art.


4C: How to Find More

Google Book Search

A beta search tool with scanned pages from thousands of all types of books contributed to Google by publishers and libraries. Your keywords can be searched within the full text of books. Only a limited number of pages can be viewed online for books under copyright restrictions. In these cases, see if OSU or an OhioLINK library own the book for borrowing. Books that are no longer under copyright restriction can be read and printed in their entirety online.

OhioLINK Digital Resource Commons (OSU access)

Audio, video, and image collections provided by OhioLINK.



Go to Web Gallery of Art. Go to Search and use the drop down menus below the search boxes to find out what's at the British Museum from the 1701-1750 time period.

Pop Quiz

Which of the following is NOT a primary source?

Correct answer:[NOTE: Score is not recorded]

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