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Topical Guides: Music Research

Music Research > 3: Articles & Journals

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3A: Types of Resources

Use an article database (also called a periodical index) to locate articles published in magazines, scholarly journals, or trade publications. When you have a specific topic in mind, use an appropriate article database and search by keyword. To browse articles, find a journal dedicated to your topic or field of study.

Scholarly Journals Popular Magazines Trade Publications

Note that some journals and articles are freely available on the Web, while others are fee-based, requiring that the user have a subscription to gain access. The OSU Libraries provides access to more than 10,000 fee-based online journals for students at OSU and to more than 300 article databases for searching for articles by key word.

This section contains scholarly resources, some of which may require subscription access via a library. While we aim to suggest free resources, some of the key article and database resources are available via subscription only. Non-OSU users are encouraged to check with their local academic or public library for access options if your research needs are not sufficiently addressed by the free resources.

3B: Examples: Article Databases

Google Scholar

Only a small number of unique musical publications can currently be found on Google Scholar, but the number is constantly increasing. Check here for easy access to older materials that have entered the public domain.

Music Index (OSU access)

The Music Index focuses primarily on periodical literature, news articles, and book reviews. Coverage extends back to the 1970s only; for earlier dates, the Music Index print volumes must be consulted. Early coverage of popular music titles was scarce, and while a large number of retrospective additions have remedied this gap to a degree, it still does not have the coverage that RILM and IIMP (in particular) do. Music education is well represented, and this is a good database to start with for research in this field. OSU Libraries purchases both RILM and Music Index through EBSCO, so basic searches may be performed on both databases simultaneously using the Choose Databases link on the main search page. More advanced searching (e.g., making use of indexing terms) requires searching each database separately.

IIMP (OSU access)

The International Index to Music Periodicals, along with RILM and The Music Index, are the only three databases dedicated to current musical periodical literature. Ironically, IIMP has the least coverage of international and non-English language publications of the three. Coverage of popular music titles is particularly good, and this is a good starting point for research in this area. The bulk of coverage goes back only to 1996, though some of its core journals are indexed completely, regardless of the year of publication. Be careful with subject searching in this database; subject terms are not well-controlled. Keyword and author/title searching generally yield better results.

Arts & Humanities Citation Index (OSU access)

This database is unique in that the method of describing and linking documents is not subject control, but citation history. That is, articles are not searched according to their content, but rather by which articles they cite or are, in turn, cited by. Coverage of music journals is respectable now and constantly growing. This database is notable for its unique method of searching. This is one of several databases now combined into the larger Web of Science database; you may select only the Arts & Humanities Citation index via the Citation Databases limiter at the bottom of the search page.

3C: Examples: Online Magazines and Journals

Ethnomusicology (OSU access)

As the official journal of the Society for Ethnomusicology, this is certainly one of the most-respected and important journals in the field and one of the few journals that focuses exclusively on ethnomusicology. It continues to be published three times per year since just after its founding in 1953. OSU has electronic access to all issues until 2006.

Music Theory Online

Music Theory Online was launched in 1993 as an experimental, freely available, peer-reviewed, online journal by the Society for Music Theory. Since 1995 it has been regularly published several times each year on a non-scheduled basis. It publishes on all aspects of music theory and encourages articles that include or approach topics from related outside disciplines.

Empirical Musicology Review

Published quarterly by the Ohio State University, this open access journal features original articles, book reviews, interviews, and more on any topic broadly related to musicology. It uses a public peer review model which encourages scholarly discussion through critical commentary on its previously published articles.

Popular Musicology Online

PMO is an online, open access outgrowth of the well-established print journal Popular Musicology Quarterly. Since 2005, it has encouraged interdisciplinary articles which relate to the study of popular music.

Journal of Music History Pedagogy

Published by a subgroup of the American Musicological Society, the JMHP provides open access to articles pertaining to the teaching of music history of all disciplines and at all levels. It is published biannually, since only 2010, but it is noteworthy for the strong academic presence in its editorial board and publisher.

Journal of Jazz Studies

The JJS, published by the Institute of Jazz studies at Rutgers, is perhaps the most authoritative scholarly, open access journal of jazz music. It is an outgrowth of the print journal Annual Review of Jazz Studies, now in its third year of publication. Its articles should appeal to scholars and casual fans of jazz alike.

Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy

Both a music journal and online community, Voices has published scholarly, peer reviews articles, and hosted both moderated and unmoderated discussions on the topic of music therapy since 2001. It is noteworthy for its merging of the journal and discussion format by a team of professional editors.

3D: How to Find More

OSUL Databases Arranged by Subject (OSU access)

Here you will find a complete list of all databases that have significant indexing for the selected subject area. The music researcher should start with the databases listed in section 3B, but may branch out to others listed here for a more complete search. Research topics that share strong ties to other disciplines may do well to consult some of the larger and more general databases listed here as well, such as Academic Search Complete. Note: many databases are OSU access.


JSTOR is a digital library of over 1,500 academic journals, books, and other primary sources. Most content must be paid for through library access (OSU access, or local library) , but some content is now freely available to unaffiliated researchers. JSTOR’s Early Journal Content provides access to journal articles published before 1923, and the new Register & Read program provides access to 36 music journals on a limited basis.


OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center (OSU access) & OhioLINK Database List (OSU access)

This is a list of all journals and databases that OhioLINK (of which OSU is a member) subscribes to. If you have a citation that you wish to search or browse for electronically, this is a good place to begin. It also allows database browsing by subject.



Go to Music Theory Online and search (see lower left) for Mozart to see what articles address this composer.

Pop Quiz

An OSU article database is a good place to find:

Correct answer: [NOTE: Score is not recorded]

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