English for art & design: Introductory research & making a bibliography (1998)

R.J. Preece (EFL)
English for Art & Design | 24 August 2010
This educational project brief was previously published with the title "Where are all of the artists and architects?" in Peter Master & Donna Brinton (Eds.), New Ways in English for Specific Purposes (pp. 139-42) (1998). Alexandria, VA, USA: TESOL. Click to see the English for Art and Design overview page.
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EFL Language Level

> Create a reference and
resource list for artists
and architects

Class Time
2-4 hours +

Preparation Time

> Library facilities
> Art Index
> Dow Jones News
Retrieval system

> General Periodical
Index (On-Disc)

For teachers: This referencing workshop specifically addresses the gathering of information about artists and architects. In addition to books and videos that deal specifically with individual artists and architects, other easily accessible sources of information that may discuss a particular artist or architect cannot be accessed by a simple subject search using the person’s name. These sources include books that provide lengthy histories or surveys of art from a particular country or time period; articles and reviews listed in Art Index, and articles and reviews of shows in the Dow Jones News Retrieval system and the General Periodicals Index (On-Disc). This activity raises visual arts students’ awareness of these sources; it also provides training in writing a reference list. (Added August 2011: the databases that are available for general news articles should be confirmed with your school’s librarian and this educational brief modified accordingly.)


1. Introduce referencing, and review the information that goes into a reference entry (for American Psychological Association, or APA, style, see the Appendix).

2. Divide the students into large groups (four or five students), and have them select an artist or architect.

3. Ask the groups to locate 10 sources about their chosen artist or architect in the library from the following, dividing the task among themselves:

> Two books dealing exclusively with the artist or architect
> Two selections from large survey books (e.g., a history of Western art or architecture)
> Two selections from smaller survey books (e.g., on Italian Baroque art)
> Two or three articles listed in Art Index
> Two or three articles from Dow Jones News Retrieval or General Periodicals Index (On-Disc)

4. Ask the students to write complete references for two sources and to bring samples of their research to class. Set up tutorials in which each student shows you the completed references so that you can point out any errors in the reference format.

5. Ask the students to combine and alphabetize the references found by the group and type up a list.

Caveats and options

1. Check with the visual arts faculty to determine which referencing system they use.

2. As a general rule, selecting different artists or architects will lead to different kinds of references. Your library will probably have more books about the individual work of famous historical artists than about the work of contemporary ones. For these, the students will need to look at books that include other artists or architects and at newspaper and magazine articles.

3. Make arrangements for a librarian to demonstrate basic search procedures.

4. The students do not necessarily need to bring the sources to class, but doing so is useful when problems arise, particularly when dealing with survey books that only have a paragraph about the artist or architect.

5. To create a more expansive list for student reference, include the format for citing a compact disc, a monograph, a videotape, a dictionary, and a web site.

6. Ask the students to create in-text references and quotations from a selected source.

7. Incorporate the references in a report-writing project.

References and further reading

American Psychological Association. (1994). Publications manual of the American Psychological Association (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Appendix: Reference handout

American Psychological Association (APA): Reference List Guidelines

There are many sources in the library on artists and architects. The following are the APA guidelines for citing certain kinds of references. Look closely at the order of the information in the various entries, and pay attention to the punctuation used.

Book with author:
Rawson, P. (1967). The art of Southeast Asia. New York: Thames & Hudson.

Book with editor:
Bernard, B. (Ed.). (1986). The Impressionist revolution. London: Macdonald.

Book with more than one edition:
Gilbert, R. (1995). Living with art (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Journal article:
Hobba, L. (1994). Five uneasy pieces. Australian Journal of Media and Culture, 8, 226-236, 267, 268.

Magazine article:
Selenitsch, A. (1995, May-June). Acropolis now. Architecture Australia, 48-53.

Newspaper article:
Knithichan, K. (1995, July 31). A time of change. Bangkok Nation, p. 8.

Review of an art or design show, film, or book:
Preece, R. (1996). Brenda Fajardo and Noel Soler Cuizon at Hiraya Gallery [Review of the art show Panapanahon (Seasonal Repetition and Change)]. Asian Art News, 6(6), 88-89.