As art, design and entertainment students and professionals you will be expected to conduct professional level research. Research assignments at the Academy of Art University are geared towards introducing students to research practices in the creative industry. Additionally, as a creative professional you will need to conduct research to further inspire and inform your own creative process. The skills associated with conducting good quality research are called information literacy skills. The resources on this page are intended to help students improve their research skills in order to become information literate professionals. Here you'll find video tutorials and downloadable materials that outline strategies and skills for every part of the research process.

What is Information Literacy?

To the right is an infographic that explains the concept of Information Literacy. Hover over the image for an enlarged view.

Also, take a look at this short video about what constitutes information:

What is Information?

A Maya Films Production

What Does It Mean to Be Information Literate?

Now that we know what information is, what does it mean to be information literate? As you can see, information literacy is a lot of things, but most importantly it's about being able to effectively and efficiently find the best information for your needs. As an active participant in the information process, you can use the resources on this page to become a better researcher and in the process, become information literate.


Adapted from Information Literacy Chart. Digital Image. To Teach is to Share. N.p., 7 July 2010.

Get Started with Research

To begin your research it is essential that you define your information need. To do this you need to know what your research topic is about, what type of information you need to answer your research question, and how much information you will need to complete your research assignment.

Selecting your topic, concept mapping, and mind mapping are all important aspects of conducting your research. These tutorials will help you define your research topic and gather basic information about the topic.

Picking Your Topic IS Research

An informative tutorial describing how picking your research topic is part of the research process.

Concept Mapping Tutorial (PDF)

Tutorial developed by Ellen Petraits at the Rhode Island School of Design Library.

Mind Mapping Your Topic

Tutorial developed by the University of Arizona.

Access the Information You Need Efficiently and Effectively

Once you have defined your research topic and have gathered basic information on the topic you need to choose the best investigative methods or information retrieval systems for accessing the information you need efficiently and effectively to complete your research assignment.

How to Develop Keywords

Created by the University of Houston Library.

Get More Out of Google

This infographic, created by Hack College, is a great way to learn how to get more out of your Google searches.

Evaluate Information and Its Sources Critically and Incorporate Selected Information Into Your Knowledge Base and Value System

You must critically evaluate the information you intend to use for research. The "best" information isn't necessarily what's most convenient. It's relevant information that is in the right format, published at the right time, and authored by the right people.

The C.R.A.A.P. Test

Learn how the "C.R.A.A.P. Test" can help you determine whether your research material is current, relevant, authoritative, accurate, and what its purpose is.

Criteria for Evaluating Information

A useful tutorial for evaluating resources. Created by OTIS College.

Use Information Effectively to Accomplish a Specific Purpose

To make the most of the information that you find in the course of your research it is important to have a good idea of what you are looking for, and once you find it, know how to use it correctly. As you conduct your research, it is essential to reevaluate prior information and integrate new information into the planning and creation of your essay or artwork. Revising your search strategy based on the information you find can help you to support and refine your thesis. Organizing the content of your research in a manner that supports the purposes and format of your research–such as the use of outlines, drafts, storyboards–will help to clarify and successfully present it to others.

Understanding Primary & Secondary Sources

A tutorial that explains different types of resources for your research.

Using Sources

A tutorial on how to use sources to develop your argument. Created by Vermont Tech.

Research Is a Process

A tutorial on refining your topic. Created by Norwich University.

Access and Use Information Ethically and Legally. Understand the Economic, Legal, and Social Issues Surrounding the Use of Information

Students and professionals must use information ethically and legally and understand the socio-economic issues surrounding the use of information. As a student, if you use a source of information and claim it as your own it is called plagiarism. Plagiarism is an ethical violation of most universities’ student conduct code. Consequences range from failing the assignment or failing the course, and possible expulsion from the institution. In professional practice, using other peoples’ work and information and passing it off as your own is considered copyright infringement and can be punished with legal action such as financial penalties. Always cite the information sources you use in your research!

MLA Citation: Tutorial Video & Examples

This guide will show you how to properly use the MLA citation style when you are writing a research paper.

Helpful Hints: MLA Citations (PDF)

Learn how to cite commonly used resource types in correct MLA format.

Helpful Hints: Image Citation (PDF)

Learn how to cite images in correct MLA format.

Visual Literacy and Visual Resources

Visual literacy is a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media. Visual literacy skills equip a learner to understand and analyze the contextual, cultural, ethical, aesthetic, intellectual, and technical components involved in the production and use of visual materials. A visually literate student is both a critical consumer of visual media and a competent contributor to a body of shared knowledge and culture.

It is essential to use and cite images correctly when you include them in your research and writing. These tutorials will help you to find the images you are looking for and to use them correctly.

Finding Digital Images on the AAU Library Website

This video will help you do better visual image research and find the images you need in image databases.

How to Save Metadata with Images Exported from LUNA (PDF)

Images exported from LUNA don't include the accompanying metadata needed to cite an image. This guide outlines ways to save the image metadata so you can access the information later.

Fashion Research

As a fashion student at the Academy of Art University, you will need to understand foundational aspects of your discipline. It is important for you to develop a knowledge of historical precursors to today's clothing and know the cultural context in which they were created so that you can better understand the fashion of today. Fashion Journalism has its own set of requirements for what it means to conduct research. It is important to be able to determine the types of resources to use, know how to evaluate them and how to incorporate them into your writing.

These tutorials will help you learn about resources that the Academy of Art University Library has to facilitate your fashion research. They will also help you to effectively research the topics you're writing about and use them successfully.

Databases for Fashion Research

This tutorial will introduce you to the fashion databases through the AAU Library.

Ebooks for Fashion Research

This tutorial will demonstrate Ebook resources for AAU Fashion students.

Introduction to Fashion History Research

This tutorial was created for students in FSH 244: History of Fashion.

Introduction to Fashion Journalism Research

This tutorial was created for Fashion Journalism students.

AAU Library YouTube Channel

Take a look at the AAU Library YouTube channel for more video tutorials!