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Descriptive Research in Music, MUS 5722

Guide to resources for Descriptive Research in Music

Keeping track of it all

Keeping track of your work can be challenging. Ultimately you have to find a system that works for you. Here are some tools that can help:

  • Search tracking template (Google Sheet). 
    • Please save a copy (or copy and paste the headings) for your own work. It's not fancy, but it's functional.
    • If you have to use a PRISMA chart to illustrate your search (as part of a systematic review), the spreadsheet can help you manage the various steps of that process (and your search refinements).
  • Zotero
    • While Zotero won't help you save your search strategies, you can "dump" your search results (citations) into it easily. More on the Manage your Citations tab of this guide.

Searching tips

Remember these intersecting circles from High School Geometry? They're BACK! It's a Venn Diagram. Think about the words you search as being in a Venn Diagram. That can help you form effective searches in library resources (pssst, and Google too!).

See the capitalized words (AND, OR, AND NOT)? These are called Boolean operators. In resources like the library databases, the library catalog, and Google, you can use those words to narrow or broaden your search.

Here are a few searches you may want to try:

music AND secondary NOT primary

music AND therapy NOT adults

MORE SEARCH TIPS:

  • Use the double quotes to search your words as a phrase: "music education" instead of music AND education. (If you don't believe me, try it!)
  • Use the * (that's shift-8) to help with endings on your words.  For example:  sing* will bring up items with the words sing, sings, singing, etc.

Research Tips

  • Keep track of your searches.
    • What was searched, what kind of search (e.g., keyword, subject heading, author), what database was searched.
    • Making a printout of the first page of the result set is one method.
  • Keep track of your result sets as well.
    • For example, how many “hits” you got on a specific search in a specific database.
  • Date your information.
    • Databases are updated frequently and your counts (and information) will be out of date quickly.
  • Think creatively. Think of different terms to broaden, narrow or limit a search.
    • You may notice words used in citations that may help focus or expand your search.  Don’t forget to use dictionaries and encyclopedias to help you find more terms.
  • Be smart!
    • When subject headings, thesaurus terms, etc. are used to categorize a citation, use that subject heading to find other articles, books, etc. on the same topic.
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