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Music - Guide to Research

The purpose of this guide is to organize the most relevant USD Library resources for students, staff and faculty within the discipline of Music.

Interdisciplinary Databases


Since many areas of research in music have interdisciplinary facets, it is important that you familiarize yourself with online databases covering other disciplines and understand their relevance to research in music. The list below is not comprehensive. It gives important examples of databases which apply to various facets of music research, or which represent specific types of database you may encounter.


Oxford Reference Online:

  • Description: Oxford University Press has a long established reputation for some of the finest, most highly respected reference tools on the market. Oxford Reference Online is a large suite of language dictionaries, subject dictionaries and other tools which cover all subject areas. The tools are grouped by subject or discipline and allow simultaneous searching of multiple tools or searching of single tools. Entries from one tool or subject area are linked to related entries in other tools or subject areas.


  • Interface: Oxford Reference


  • What can you do with this database? This suite of tools allows you online access to any language or subject dictionary you might need to refer to during research or writing. Oxford Reference Online is a good substitute for Wikipedia in that you can find the same type of information but in a form any professor should let you cite in a paper. By searching across tools in different disciplines you can arrive at a better understanding of how a complex term or concept (such as postmodern) is used in different fields.


  • Exercise: 1. Access Oxford Reference Online. 2. Try some term searches in the subject dictionaries to get a feel for how results are displayed and articles linked to each other. 3. Based on your own personal, professional and research interests, decide which Oxford Reference tools might be of use to you. Consider both language dictionaries and subject dictionaries. Create bookmarks in your browser for each of these tools. Hint: for the subject dictionaries, consider those fields which have vocabularies of which you may feel you don't have sufficient  familiarity (such as psychology or philosophy).

Humanities International Complete:

  • Example of: Humanities International Complete is an example of a database which indexes and abstracts the literature of multiple disciplines. The Complete in the title indicates that the subscription to the index also includes full text access (if available). Another example of this type of database, with covers an even broader range of discipline, is Academic Search Complete.
  • Interface: EBSCO
  • What can you do with this database? Primarily an index to the journal literature of the humanities. Provides an easy means of doing interdisciplinary searches in music. Links to full text when available.
  • Exercise: 1. Access Humanities International Complete. 2. Execute a search on two terms which imply research of an interdisciplinary nature (example: beethoven and napoleon). 3. Examine the results in terms of which journals published articles on your interdisciplinary subject. Note in particular articles appearing in non-music journals. Are these articles written by music scholars publishing in non-music journals or by scholars in areas outside of music?

 MLA (Modern Language Association) International Bibliography:

  • Example of: an index to the literature of a specific discipline other than music. The MLA International Bibliography indexes the literature of modern languages and literature. It has links to full text (when available).
  • Interface: EBSCO
  • What can you do with this database? Locate music related articles in the area of languages and literature. Any research on music with text or dramatic musical works will profit from using this database.
  • Exercise: 1. Access MLA International Bibliography. 2. Choose the link near the top "Choose Databases". Click on RILM. Now MLA and RILM should be checked. Click on OK to get back to the search page. 3. Click on the link near the top "Show All" and you should see that MLA and RILM are being searched at the same time. 4. Execute a search on a topic related to music and poetry (example: Schubert and Goethe). 5. Review your results noting when an item has been pulled up by MLA and when by RILM.

 Arts & Humanities Citation Index:

  • Example of: a citation index. Citation indexes not only index a given article, but they index who has cited that article in their own work. In other words, a citation index will not only index articles your professor has written on a topic, but articles by others who cite your professor's articles in the bibliography or footnotes of their article. When you find articles which have cited an article of relevance to your research, you are discovering part of the web of scholarship centered on a specific topic. The Arts & Humanities Citation is part of a suite of three citation indexes published as part of the ISI Web of Knowledge. This is probably the most difficult and hard to understand database of any you might use in music research.
  • Interface: ISI Web of Science
  • What can you do with this database? You can find related scholarship to the work of a given author. This is most helpful when the citing articles are in another discipline and may not be known to you. Other databases (such as Humanities International Complete) have cited reference searching which does the same thing as the Art & Humanities Citation Index, but which is easier to understand and use.
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