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This guide was created for DD1004 Introduction to Art Histories II – Asian Art History for Semester 2 AY2016/17 in consultation with Asst Professor Sujatha Meegama. It introduces useful information resources and key information skills.


Shiva Nataraja

Shiva Nataraja; India, Chola dynasty, ca. 990; bronze; Purchase—Margaret and George Haldeman, and Museum funds; Freer Gallery of Art, F2003.2

Course Reserves

Your lecturer has placed several books in the course reserves for you. Copies of these are held physically at the Reserve shelves located next to the Service desk in the library. Find their call numbers via a virtual list in the Library Catalogue. Reserved titles have shorter loan period – 2 HOURS

Two of the reserved titles are on Writing in Art History and are very important for this course.

  1. Barnet, Sylvan. A Short Guide to Writing About Art. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson, 2008. (2008 is the 9th edition. The Library also has the 10th and 11th editions) – CALL NO. N7476.B261 2015
  2. D’Alleva, Anne. Look!: The Fundamentals of Art History. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2010. (This is the 3rd edition. The Library also has the 2nd edition) – CALL NO. N345.D146 2010

Other Library Books

Library books on Asian Art History are shelved close to each other as they share similar call numbers. If you want to browse the shelves physically, you can begin with call numbers starting with:

N7260 for Overview or Survey on Asian Art
N7301 for Indian Art
N7340 for Chinese Art
N7350 for Japanese Art

If you want to use the Library Catalogue to locate books with more specific topics, use keywords like “Chinese ceramics”, “Hindu temples”, “Islamic architecture” or “mosques”, “Buddhist sculpture”, and “Christian art Asia” in your search.

Library Subscribed Databases

Oxford Art Online

Oxford Art Online is a critical information source for art history students. It is an online collection of articles covering all aspects of visual art from prehistory to the present day. Types of information include subject entries, artist biographies, and images. Watch an introductory video explaining why OAO is an important resource for undergraduate art students.

It also includes the entire 34-volume Dictionary of Art. Imagine being able to look up the definition of an art term from the comfort of your bed. There is no excuse for grabbing the first thing that pops up in a Google search when you can look up the proper definition from Oxford Art Online. For a start, take a quick look at their entries for Asian Art.

JSTOR Ebooks

JSTOR stands for Journal Storage and is a database of core scholarly journals in many disciplines including art history. It contains backfiles (older issues) which mean you cannot find the most recently published content of any journal. There is usually a gap of 2 to 5 years (commonly called a moving wall). Journal articles are probably not so useful for first-year art history students. Why? Because the information is probably too in-depth and niche. But JSTOR has many ebooks which contain more general information more suitable for first-year students.

How do you find ebooks in JSTOR? Click on “Books” after you have done a search to filter the results. Simple right?

Try out JSTOR Ebooks now.


Like using Google Scholar to find articles or books? You can use the FullText@NTU Library tool to check whether the item you want has already been purchased by the library.

Or better still, install the NTU Libraries Toolbar on your web browser. Use it to open a PDF article that the Library has already paid for, check if the Library has that Amazon book, or quickly search for something in the Library while you are on another web page.

As a university student, you are expected to use scholarly sources of information versus freely available information from websites found using Google Search.

Please note that you are NOT to use Wikipedia in your assignments. You can start with Wikipedia for a quick scan or read up on an unfamiliar topic but do not cite it in your assignments (Watch this video on why Wikipedia is not an appropriate academic source). For example, you need to define Buddhist sculpture. Wikipedia will have an entry for it but so do Oxford Art Online. You must use the definition in Oxford Art Online.

Having said that, there are some popular online sites that are acceptable for the course. These are:

Singapore sites

Website of the Asian Civilisation Museum.
An important site for students studying Asian Art history in Singapore.

Singapore National Collections Online
This is an online repository for the National Heritage Board which was created to highlight their collection of artefacts and artworks.

National Art Gallery, Singapore
You can search notable works from the National Art Gallery by artist, year, or country. The works featured are intended to be a preview.

Other museum sites

Hong Kong Museum of Art
The website provides descriptions of individual collections (e.g. Chinese fine arts) accompanied by images.

The Victoria & Albert Museum
Use the V&A’s “Search the Collections” database to access more than 1 million records and close to 300 thousand images from their collection. Images are accompanied by summaries and full descriptions.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
You can search close to 400 thousand images from the Met. Try searching artworks on display to see what’s being exhibited now. In addition to their collection, the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History provides thematic essays on Asian Art.

The Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago allows you to view images of their Asian collection. Search all online images or their featured works.

Freer and Sackler Galleries
The Freer and Sackler Galleries is the Smithsonian museum of Asian Art in the USA. You can browse images by country or use more advanced search functions. The collection includes videos on Asian Art. Images can be used for all non-commercial purposes.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The VMFA has over 100 images of South Asian art and 100 images of East Asian art from their collection. Each image has a full description.

Digital Gallery: New York Public Library
The Digital Gallery gives you access to more than 800 thousand images from the New York Public Library’s collections. You can search for posters, prints, and photographs among other things.

Google Scholar

While I wouldn’t advise using stuff you find in Google Search, particularly travel websites and personal blogs, appropriate information found using Google Scholar is acceptable. Google Scholar is a Google search engine for discovering scholarly information. These could be scholarly journal articles, reports or citations. Use fulltext@NTU Libraries with Google Scholar for seamless access to information already paid for by the library.

Google Image Search and Google Books Search

Use images and books found in Google carefully. If in doubt, consult your professor, tutors and librarians. Make sure the images have copyright clearance like a Creative Commons licence. The same goes for electronic books as many online copies are pirated and do not have permission to be published online from copyright owners.

Citing and acknowledging images and books found on Google Images or Books can be problematic as well. You cannot cite Google Images or Google Books as they are not the source, merely the search platform. You wouldn’t cite the Library Catalogue for a book you borrowed and use in your assignment right? If you are not sure how to find the bibliographic information of the image or book you want to cite, approach me.

Why is it important to be able to distinguish between primary versus secondary or tertiary sources?

The study of art history means you are investigating stuff that you are not a witness to. You can only rely on objects or information created from the period you are studying. These are known as primary sources.

Being able to recognise whether an object or piece of information originates from that period is, therefore, an important skill.

As time pass, more and more secondary information or objects relating to the period or subject that you are studying are created. The value and importance of these secondary sources are not the same as the primary sources.

As an art history student, you are expected to be able to correct identify and work with both primary and secondary sources of information for historical research.

Read on: A blog post “Primary and Secondary Sources in the Study of History” prepared by the Academy of Historical Arts

So, what is a primary source?

Personal letters, diaries, photographs, speeches, works of art, architecture, literature, and music are usually considered primary sources. But stuff like documents that contain first-hand accounts of events or the topic that you are researching on can also be considered primary sources. Examples include autobiographies, news reports and oral or video interviews.

Knowing how to identify what is a primary and secondary source is an important skill for art history students. Watch a Shmoop video to get a clearer picture of how to identify a primary source.

Think you’ve got this covered? Then try out this simple quiz.

An annotated bibliography is an alphabetical list of selected research sources. It provides a concise summary of each source and some assessment of its value and relevance to your assignments. It also contains the bibliographic information of the source.

The video below by Brock Library offers a good and quick introduction:

The University of Toronto has a good written guide on Writing an Annotated Bibliography. Do read it before you start on your own annotated bibliography.

Selecting and Evaluating Sources

I think this Shmoop video sums up how to pick information sources well… and it is quite entertaining.

In short, ask the following questions of the sources you found and is planning to use:

  1. Where the information come from?
  2. Who is the author?
  3. When was the information written?
  4. Author’s Purpose
  5. Relevance to your assignment

“To use or pass off as one’s own, the writings or ideas of another, without acknowledging or crediting the source from which the ideas are taken.”

That’s the definition of plagiarism.

It is against NTU’s Honour Code and Academic Integrity Policy to plagiarise someone else’s work. If you are caught plagiarising, disciplinary actions including expulsion might be on the table.

There are basically 2 types of plagiarism:

  1. Intentional – outright copy and paste from source without acknowledging
  2. Accidental – poor paraphrasing, referencing and citing errors

In both cases, students face disciplinary actions. So, to avoid being investigated and convicted of plagiarism, acknowledge and cite your sources properly.

Related Guides

  1. Guide to Academic Writing and Avoiding plagiarism
  2. Guide to Copyright and Art Images

How well do you know plagiarism? Take the Quiz!

Plagiarism Detection

There are several ways plagiarism can be detected.


When you copy and paste paragraphs from different sources into your assignment, it is basically a patchwork and it shows up in varying sentence structure, grammar and tone of voice.

Your lecturer and tutors are familiar with the teaching materials and relevant information sources. One case of plagiarism was detected because the lecturer knew the passage well including who wrote it.

Lack of in-text citations. If your assignment does not have any in-text citations, it is very likely you have plagiarised whether intentionally or not. (Not sure what is in-text citations, find out from Acknowledging Sources.

Software Detection Tools

Plagiarism detection tools are used to locate instances of plagiarism within a work or document.

NTU uses a software called Turnitin (available in NTULEARN) to scan assignments for similar content against their repository of sources. If what you wrote resemble someone else’s work, it will be highlighted in yellow so that your lecturer can have a closer look.

Turnitin Suite Demo from Turnitin on Vimeo.

The video above is a brief demonstration of how Turnitin work.

There are many other tools, some free, some not. Besides being used by educators to verify their students’ work, these tools can also be used by students to ensure that they have not committed the act of plagiarism in their work.

Take a look at a list of plagiarism detection tools compiled by the Library. There are a few free ones that you can try.


You are expected to acknowledge the information you use in your assignments. This includes written assignments (print and online) and presentation slides. Any work that has influenced the writing of research papers, theses and dissertations must be cited and properly referenced to avoid plagiarism.

A complete reference include:

  1. An in-text citation (example: the surname of the author and the year of publication. In the case of Chicago, a footnote number)
  2. An entry of the citation in the reference list with complete bibliographic details

Find out more about acknowledging sources in general.

Chicago Manual of Style

Many citation styles (about 3000) exist.

In DD1004, you are required to use the Chicago Manual of Style. It provides basic guidelines for academic writing, including the practice of citing sources. Published by the University of Chicago Press, it has its own unique rules and is favoured by art historians, predominantly because it allows them to append additional information about the topic under discussion at the bottom of the page for quick reference.

The following resources will help you understand and apply these rules. Like this video created by the Memorial University Libraries which is a basic introduction to the Chicago Manual of Style.

Check out their other videos in the Chicago Style series:

You can also print this Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide for a basic overview of citing and referencing in the Chicago Style. Do check it out to get a better understanding before using it in your paper.

The library has a book called A manual for writers of research papers, theses, and dissertations CALL NO. LB2369.T929 2013 which is considered a definitive guide to using and writing in the Chicago Style. It includes chapters on creating citations and bibliographies.

It is important to appreciate and master the skill for acknowledging sources by proper referencing. Take time to learn this in your first year and you will reap the benefits for the following 3 years.

Start by practicing with this citation game.


Citation Help

Preparing citations by following correct examples is one of the fastest ways to pick the skill. Purdue University has created a citation style chart comparing MLA, APA and Chicago Manual of Style side-by-side. Print it and use it as quick reference.

The list below are some digital tools/services to help you with your citations. The first 2 create citations automatically for you on the fly. It saves you time from manually writing out each citation, which is great. Do check and edit them for errors or mistakes before submitting.The third one has more functionalities. Did I mention that all three are free?
Prepare citations in 3 styles: APA, Chicago and MLA. For Chicago, you can also change it to a footnote citation at the final step. They support six common reference types: Book, Magazine, Journal, Newspaper, Film, Website.
Bibme’s functionality looks similar to Citation Machine. They are both using the same automation service. But Bibme offers a lot more citation styles and reference types, therefore more suitable for students in the third or fourth year as well as postgraduates.
Mendeley is a reference manager. It allows you to create a personal library where you can store citation information, the full text pdfs, annotations and reading notes. They have a citation plugin that works with MS Word and Mac Word. You can insert in-text citations while writing in MS Word or Mac Word as well as create the reference list or bibliography. It takes a bit more time to learn and set up but it should be worth the time.

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