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Illustration Practice MA/MFA

Graduate Illustration Practice

Writing is hard

Lisa Simpson having a hard time

Beginning Research

Beginning Your Art Research Cheat Sheet

Access this doc at:

Compiled by Jennifer Ferretti, Digital Initiatives Librarian,; edited by Kelly Swickard, Resource Description Librarian.

Your professor will tell you what citation style to use.  Most databases including the Library Catalog will have a Cite This or Citation button to give you an option of citation styles for you to copy and paste an item’s citation. To check the citation or if a citation button is not provided, use Purdue OWL to help you determine how to cite your item:

Use the Decker Library catalog to find:

  • Books
  • Videos
  • eBooks
  • Journal articles
  • and many other resources!

Find Articles, Images, Video, and More includes databases containing:

  • Scholarly articles
  • Encyclopedic articles
  • Newspapers
  • Images
  • Streaming video

MICA Digital Library contains images and PDFs of digitized items from our special collections. These are material that we own and are available for in-library use, including:

  • Images of artists’ books and zines
  • Historic material related to MICA’s history (photographs, yearbooks, prospectus catalogs)
  • MICA Graduate Theses from 2015 through present

Quick List of Where to Find Resources:

Decker Library Catalog -  > Click Search the Catalog


Decker Library Databases > Click Find Articles, Images, Video &  More
(you can search these databases off campus just login with your MICA Credentials) -

Searches many different libraries on a national level. You might need to request we borrow or request something from another library (interlibrary loan).

Google Scholar -


Login with your account to find full-text material via the library.  Please note that all articles on Google Scholar are not scholarly - anyone can post an article there.

Borrow or Use Other Libraries:


Library/Academia Glossary:


Full-text: The complete article/resource, as opposed to an excerpt or abstract only.

Interlibrary loan: The process in which we (Decker Library) borrow or request material on your behalf. Books and media (DVDs, etc.) can be borrowed from other libraries. Articles can also be ‘borrowed’ from other libraries, but generally arrive scanned via email. More information. Contact:

Borrowing Guide (you can borrow from other libraries in the area like Johns Hopkins and UB or we can borrow for you called Interlibrary Loan ILL)


(Scholarly) Peer-review: Traditionally anonymous ‘experts’ in a given field provide an impartial review of an article, project, idea, etc. Reviewer(s) help the publisher determine if the work should be accepted, accepted with revisions, or rejected. This process does not prevent invalid research from being published.

How to select a topic

Finding a Topic

  • Brainstorm
  • Make a list keywords and related topics: Use Mind Mapping or Clustering
  • Make vertical list > leads to Outlining > Organize and Outline further
  • Read general information about topic
  • Read more focused information about topic focusing on critical analysis of resources
  • Write your topic as a Thesis Statement


Interactive Mind Mapping Tutorial from University of Arizona

Click the image below to start:

Image of tutorial start

Write an annotated bibliography

What is an Annotated Bibliography?

Consists of 2 parts:

  • Bibliographic citation
  • Annotation
    • Brief summary
    • Evaluate authority/background of author
    • Comment on audience
    • How relates to other sources

The purpose of a list of sources on a topic with notes attached is to give the reader critical analysis and information about the sources as related to as subject.

  • It is not an abstract or summary of the source (book, article, webpage, etc.). 
  • Annotation gives critical analysis of points, relevancy, authority, accuracy, and quality of source. Annotation goes much deeper into examining the source versus just summarizing what was stated.

Helpful Web page on writing annotated bibliographies:

Purdue University OWL

Chicago Manual Style Rules

  • The text should be double-spaced.
  • Numbering starts on the first page of writing (not the title page), at the top right of the page.
  • Reference list entries must have a hanging indent (to do this in Microsoft Word 2003, click Format, then Paragraph, then Special, and choose Hanging).
  • There should be 1 inch (2.54 cm) margins all around (top, bottom, left, and right) on each page.
  • Use Times Roman font, or a similar serif font.
  • Each paragraph should be indented using the tab key.

​​ From Eastern Nazarene College

Access the full Chicago Manual of Style here

*You will be prompted to log in with your MICA credentials 

Decker Library at the Maryland Institute College of Art | Location: 1401 W. Mount Royal Ave., Baltimore, MD 21217 | Mailing: 1300 W. Mount Royal Ave., Baltimore, MD 21217

Research Help: 410-225-2273 / | General Questions: 410-225-2272 /

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