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Fine Art and Curatorial Practice

A library guide to support studio practice and research in fine art and curatorial studies

Using databases for research

Research databases are organised collections of digital information that can be easily searched, such as journal articles, books, or images. Databases can be general or subject specific, and can include citations, or abstracts (short summaries), and/or full text articles and books. The sources indexed may be written by scholars, professionals or generalists.

Unlike a general Google search, using a database means you can be sure the information you find is high-quality and reliable. Finding 'scholarly' resources is also easier through a database.

There are many types of databases that you can use for your research. The database you choose will depend on what type of information you want to find. Once you choose a database, use keywords on your topic to search. Then try using the 'filter' options, such as publication date, content type, or subject area to refine your results.

What is a journal?

  • Journals are ongoing publications also known as serials or periodicals.
  • Journals allow researchers and scholars to report their findings and ideas. Theories and ideas circulating in contemporary visual culture will be discussed in journal articles.
  • Some journals are peer-reviewed or 'refereed'. Articles in these journals have been evaluated by specialists or experts within academia and / or industry.
  • Journal articles often start with an 'abstract' - a brief summary of the article. 
  • The Monash Journals collection also includes some high-quality popular magazines, providing current information and opinions on popular topics for a non-academic audience.
  • Journal articles are often considered 'academic' or 'scholarly' sources, however magazines and 'trade journals' are usually not. You can read more about evaluating a journal article's quality on the Art, Design and Architecture Theory guide.
  • Many journals are available through Monash in electronic format, and some of these also have print copies in the Library. There are other journals which are only available in print - browse the shelves on Level 4 of the Caulfield Library's journal section.

Key databases for Art and Curatorial Studies

Key multidisciplinary databases

Key newspaper databases

Using Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a subset of Google which searches specifically for scholarly material on the web. 

It locates journal articles, theses and dissertations, books, conference papers and other research material from a variety of sources including academic publishers, professional societies, institutional repositories and databases.

Its coverage is strongest in science, technology and medicine.


  • Useful when searching "Grey Literature" such as conference proceedings
  • Enables interdisciplinary searches
  • Accesses multiples types of documents (articles, books, conference proceedings)
  • Helps identify who is publishing in particular areas of research
  • Results are ranked by relevancy

Be aware that:

  • Content is not always equivalent to the scholarly or peer-reviewed content in databases
  • Difficult to perform a specific search with precise results
  • Gaps in coverage - a lot of information is not freely available on the web
  • Citations can be incomplete, and can only be exported one at a time


Full text linking

Google Scholar allows you to set Google Scholar preferences to link to the full text of articles cited in Google Scholar which are available from Monash University Library. Follow these steps to ensure full text links show in your search results, so you can avoid getting stuck at paywalls.