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Imperial School of Teachers of Dancing

A guide to freely available resources available to support students at the Imperial School of Teachers of Dancing

Research skills development

Search Tips


A number of search principles apply across all databases and internet search engines. These are highlighted below:

Identify key concepts

When beginning your research it is a good idea to break down your topic into one or two main concepts.

If searching for information about a particular choreographer it may be enough to perform a simple search on the choreographer's name. Similarly if you are searching for a particular aspect or genre of dance such as 'contemporary dance' searching for this as a phrase may return relevant results.

Combine keywords

However, if you need to search for more specific information you may need to add in a second concept by using AND in between the search terms e.g. dance AND society to return results which discuss dance as a cultural entity. This will then only return results which contain both terms meaning the results are more specific.

Use speech marks

In addition, when entering a phrase such as "jazz dance" or "dance training" it is a good idea to enclose it in "speech marks" as this will ensure the whole phrase is searched for rather than the two words separately which may return irrelevant results.

Think of alternatives

It is also a good idea to look for different ways of expressing the same thing using alternative or similar terms e.g. "dance history", "history of dance" or "historical dance". This gives you a better chance of finding more material on the topic.

You should also consider spelling variations such as American spellings. 

Expand your search

Sometimes when undertaking research it is not possible to find information which is specific to the question you are trying to answer. You will therefore need to consider what broader topics or related material may provide you with the background information or theory which you can then apply to your specific question. For example; a critical appraisal of a particular performance may require you to research critical appraisal itself, find background information about the performance, or performer under scrutiny, as well as finding theory relating to the particular aspects of the performance you are critiquing e.g choreography. This is why you should think carefully about your approach to answering the question and plan what you need to research before you begin searching. 



Evaluating sources


“Web searching is free. Unfortunately you get what you pay for.”


It is easy to use a search engine (e.g. Google) find something about your topic on the Internet, but it is very difficult to find relevant things. You should equip yourself with the skills needed to assess what you find for quality.


Currency - how old is the information/article or site?

Authority - who is the author/site creator?

Relevance - is it what I need?

Purpose - what is the purpose of the information?


As well as the information skills available from library  there are also many useful free resources available online.

The Free Academic Internet Resources library guide is packed with lots of great links to research and study skills websites and is well worth a look.

Especially useful is the Open University's SAFARI -Skills in Accessing, Finding and Reviewing Information, which is an online tutorial that will help you develop your information skills.




The Internet for Performing Arts is an excellent online tutorial about how to make effective use of the internet for coursework and assignments.