Here are some things to take into consideration when doing research (discussed in terms of “levels”):
Third Level of Research:
- You might speak to an instructor and they make recommendations for you to follow up on
- You might meet/know someone in the field you need to learn about and they get you started
- Or these days, you might do a general search using your favorite search engine. I would call this a “shotgun search” to get started (by “shotgun” I mean that it’s a wide-open, general search that will include a wide range of sources from Encyclopedias to Wikipedia). This kind of search can give you a lot of directions to go further, but can be confusing and may include unreliable, inaccurate, or just plain wrong information.
Second Level of Research:
- Looking at/taking information found in the third level research and going into it deeper. This means finding the sources: like the author, and checking their “works cited” or bibliography and then corroborating, checking the provenance, and credentials of source(s).We need to check and confirm that our research is accurate and correct. This is a place where your instructor should be able to help. REMINDER: Your instructor is one of your resources.
- Corroboration means finding 2 or more sources that say the same thing and have good credentials for reliability that the information is from someone who has training/expertise/experience and/or is knowledgeable in the subject. Corroborating also means checking these credentials – “Why should I listen to this person or source?” 2nd level sources are also when someone is writing or discussing a subject; an artwork; a book or subject, etc. but they are not the person who wrote the text or painted the painting or whatever. In the art world, many of these sources are art historians, historians or theorists or art critics (knowledgeable people who write about art).
- Provenance is the history of something, for example who made the artwork, who owned it after that and where has it been all these years. Provenance is important to confirming that a given artwork is not a fake or a copy or stolen. These days the Provenance of an artwork may be checked by chemical and/or scientific analysis.
- NOTE: corroboration and provenance are important aspects and issues in the art world.
First Level of Research:
- Information is referred to as original sources and sometimes called primary sources. This might be the actual painting, sculpture or artwork being considered. It might be the book, the poem, the drama written; music; dance – it might be an artist’s own writings about their work. In the Arts – it is frequently hard to get to the source materials, as those are the original artworks (or the artist’s writings). Original artworks like you might find in a museum. If one is looking at a reproduction of an artwork (photos, videos, recordings)–that is a second-level source because it is not the actual original and there can be all kinds of color/quality/image degradations in the process of reproduction (these aspects are inherent in the process of reproduction, in fact)
- Let’s say we find a video on YouTube fromBob47 about medical illustration, which talks about Leonardo DaVinci’s drawings (this is a third-level source). I watch that and then look for his bibliography or cited sources (probably none).
- So I do a search for DaVinci and medical illustration. Among other things, I find an article in the Washington Academy of Science journal by Joanne Snow-Smith. This is a good article and I can use it for my project, but it is still only a second-level source because she is talking/writing about DaVinci. She will probably have a bibliography and works cited (her research). I can follow up on that.
- My first-level source for this example would be to go to DaVinci’s diaries and sketchbooks related to medical illustration. There, I could look at his writings about medical illustration and his drawings – that would be 1st level source material. Now the problem here is that I would only be able to look at reproductions of his sketchbooks, unless I travel to Italy or wherever his original notebooks are preserved. So, in this case, if I studied those reproductions, we might call that advanced 2nd level sourcing.